10/20/Life Statute

Knowledgeable Weapon Crime Lawyer Assisting Residents of Clearwater and St. Petersburg

The State of Florida holds Florida Statute § 775.087 - more commonly known as the 10/20/Life Statute – in such high regard that it has invested in public service announcement posters touting “Use a gun and you’re done.” As explained on the PSA posters, if a defendant pulls a gun during a crime, they face 10 years or more in prison. Firing a gun during a crime can lead to 20 years of incarceration, and actually shooting someone can put the defendant behind bars for 25 years to life. If you are facing prosecution under this very harsh law, you need a St. Petersburg or Clearwater gun crime attorney like Will Hanlon at Hanlon Law to zealously defend you to the fullest extent of the law.

10/20/Life is a “mandatory minimum” sentencing law that has been in effect for nearly 20 years. Originally conceived largely as a campaign promise for a gubernatorial candidate, the statute effectively increased the possible punishment for using a gun during the commission of a violent felony from three years to at least 10 years – even if the gun is not fired and nobody is hurt during the crime. 10/20/Life also set mandatory minimum sentences for several other crimes, including certain types of aggravated assault. The defendant in a 10/20/Life Statute case may also face punishment for the underlying crime, including additional incarceration and fines.

Defending Against a 10/20/Life Statute Case

One way to avoid punishment under the 10/20/Life Statute is to be acquitted of the crime that was allegedly committed while using a weapon, or to have the charge reduced to a crime that is not covered by 10/20/Life. An experienced criminal defense attorney can review the facts and circumstances of the defendant’s alleged criminal actions and arrest, looking for possible gaps in the evidence or issues of credibility concerning the prosecution’s witnesses. Evidence that was obtained in violation of an important constitutional right, such as the Fourth Amendment freedom from unlawful searches and seizures, can be excluded at trial, possibly preventing the State from proving an essential element of the offense. The State must prove each and every element of the crime in order to meet its burden of showing guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Under the 10/20/Life Statute, it is illegal for a Florida resident to possess, carry, display, use, threaten to use, or attempt to use a weapon or firearm during the commission of certain crimes, including murder, sexual battery, robbery, burglary, arson, kidnapping, escape, carjacking, or trafficking in certain illegal substances. The term “firearm” also includes other destructive devices, such as bombs, grenades, rockets, and missiles. Since 10/20/Life is designed to be mandatory, it can be very difficult to avoid the minimum sentence assigned under the statute, but there are some exceptions, such as cases involving youthful offenders or situations in which the prosecuting attorney is willing to waive the mandatory minimum sentence.

Speak to a Clearwater or St. Petersburg Attorney About Your Firearm Charge

The first step in minimizing or avoiding the impact of the 10/20/Life Statute is to speak to a knowledgeable gun crime attorney about your case. To schedule an appointment with violent crime lawyer Will Hanlon to discuss your situation, call 727-897-5413 or contact us online. Criminal cases can evolve very quickly, and it is not unusual for exculpatory evidence that could benefit the defendant to disappear or become less reliable over time. Talking to an attorney before talking to the police is critical, even if you have not yet been formally charged with a crime. A conviction of a crime – especially if the 10/20/Life Statute is applicable – can cost a defendant in many ways, including loss of freedom, a tarnished reputation, and a disruption in family relationships. Thus, it is important that you speak with an attorney as soon as possible if you are facing criminal charges in Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Newport Richey, or Dade City.