Concurrent vs. Consecutive Prison Time in Florida Criminal Cases

There are several stages to a criminal prosecution and therefore several different opportunities to limit the impact of a conviction. Even if you are convicted of a crime, it is important to fight aggressively at the sentencing hearing to try to reduce jail times, fines, and other penalties. For instance, one question that may come up for a person convicted of multiple offenses is whether any jail time imposed for each offense should be done concurrently (at the same time) or consecutively (one after the other). Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal recently looked at that question in a Pinellas County gun crime case.A defendant was charged with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer with the use of a firearm, stemming from an incident in which Pinellas County police officers were attempting to arrest him on separate charges. The cops were after him for a number of robberies, one of which allegedly happened with the use of a stolen gun. He was eventually convicted of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and sentenced to 20 years in prison for that crime. The judge said the prison time was to be served consecutively, or after the defendant finished his time on the robbery charges.

The judge rejected the defendant’s argument that the sentences should be concurrent (at the same time) because the incident with the police was part of the same criminal sequence as the robberies, which happened a day earlier. The judge said he was required under the law to impose consecutive sentences.

The Second District disagreed on appeal. The court said Florida’s 10-20-Life law blocks judges from imposing consecutive mandatory minimum sentences in firearm cases arising from the same criminal episode, if the gun isn’t fired. In cases of multiple firearm offenses in which the defendant shoots at one or more victims, however, consecutive sentencing is permissible but not mandatory. Since a gun was fired in the robberies in the defendant’s case, the judge was permitted to impose consecutive sentences. That said, the court explained that the judge was wrong in thinking that he was required to make the sentences consecutive.

“Here, it is clear from the record that the trial court believed that consecutive sentencing was mandatory rather than permissible,” the court said. “Accordingly, we must reverse [the defendant’s] sentence and remand for resentencing.”

If you or a loved one has been charged with a gun crime in Florida, it is essential that you seek the advice and counsel of an experienced defense lawyer. Clearwater gun crime attorney Will Hanlon is a seasoned lawyer who fights aggressively on behalf of clients charged with a wide range of offenses. Mr. Hanlon represents clients throughout the region in gun crime cases and a wide range of other cases. Call our offices at (727) 897-5413 or contact us online to speak with Mr. Hanlon about your case.

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