Florida has specific sentencing laws that govern the sentence for those convicted of crimes. There are a number of different ways that sentencing laws come into play, including mandatory minimums and increasing penalties for subsequent crimes of the same nature (think of DUI, for example). Your skilled Clearwater criminal defense attorney can help you to minimize the amount of time you need to serve by taking advantage of statutory opportunities to reduce the sentence.
Consecutive vs. Concurrent
Another example of a way that sentencing laws can affect the amount of time actually served is whether a sentence is served consecutively or concurrently. Let’s say someone is convicted of two crimes arising out of the same incident, with minimum penalties of five years each. The judge can order the defendant to serve the sentences consecutively, which would lead to a total of ten years in prison, because the sentences are served one after the other. However, in many circumstances, the judge can order the sentences to be served concurrently. Concurrent sentences mean that the sentences for all the crimes are served at the same time. So in this example it would be a total of five years, because both charges’ sentences would be served concurrently.
Florida Supreme Court and Gun Crimes
In 2016, the Florida Supreme Court held that judges have the discretion to sentence defendants concurrently under Florida law for certain kinds of gun crimes. Florida has a 10-20-Life law that requires defendants to serve a minimum of 10 years in prison if they produce a firearm during the commission of a felony. Defendants are required to be sentenced to a minimum of 20 years if the gun is fired and 25 years to life if a victim is injured or killed. Before the 2016 Florida Supreme Court decision, judges would impose these sentences consecutively. So if someone fires a gun and there are 10 people nearby, they would have been sentenced to a mandatory minimum sentence of 200 years, even if no one was injured or killed. Of course this often produced overly harsh results according to many judges. The 2016 ruling clarified that judges were permitted to impose the sentences to be served concurrently, especially when there was no serious injury or death.
The Case At Issue
In this case, the defendant was convicted of armed burglary, three counts of aggravated assault with a firearm, and fleeing and eluding police. Pursuant to the case law at the time, the defendant was sentenced to serve the sentences consecutively. However, between the time of the original sentencing and this appeal heard by the Florida Third District Court of Appeal, the Florida Supreme Court had issued the decision described above. The defendant’s counsel did not bring up this argument on appeal, and so the court here acknowledged that defendant’s counsel was deficient. Thus, the defendant’s case was remanded for new sentencing.
Contact a Skilled Clearwater Gun Crimes Defense Attorney Today
Florida law takes gun crimes seriously. If the state can prove that a gun was used during a felony, and someone was injured, defendants can face huge penalties. As noted above, even if the gun is not fired, a defendant can still be sentenced to a ten year mandatory minimum sentence. The gun crimes defense attorneys at Hanlon Law Firm fight aggressively on behalf of all clients charged with a crime. Contact us online or call our offices at (727) 897-5413 to speak with our skilled attorneys about your case.
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