According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, more than 98,000 crimes committed in 2011 involved the use of a firearm. Although Florida’s laws regarding the legitimate purchase, use and possession of firearms are regarded by many observers as being among the most liberal in the country, the state’s criminal code provisions regarding their illegal possession or use are among the strict. Florida’s criminal laws include a variety of acts involving the possession, purchase, or use of weapons or firearms. These are divided into two general categories:
Firearm-specific crimes – these are “stand alone” crimes in which the possession, purchase or use of a firearm is in itself the offense. Examples include carrying a concealed weapon, improper exhibition of a firearm or possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
So-called “firearm enhancements” statutes– these are laws that increase either the severity of another serious crime or the possible sentence for a conviction when a firearm is involved. For example, misdemeanor assault occurs when the defendant commits an act that threatens imminent violence. The charge is increased to felony aggravated assault is a weapon is used. However, if a firearm is used, the resulting charge will likely be aggravated assault with a firearm. Regardless of the nature of the charge, conviction of a crime involving a gun – even if it merely possessing one during the commission of another crime – carries severe and potentially lifelong consequences. In some instances, a conviction can mean a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison.
Florida’s so-called “10/20/Life” law requires the court to impose mandatory minimum sentences for certain specified serious crimes (for example, assault, kidnapping and sexual battery) when committed with, or while in possession of, a firearm. In general, persons subject to such sentences are not eligible for parole or any other form of early release. The 10/20/Life law provides for the following sentences:
- 10 years for possession of a firearm during the commission of the crime, even if it never left the perpetrator’s pocket
- 20 years if the gun was discharged during the commission of the crime, whether or not anyone was killed or wounded
- and 25 years to life if anyone was seriously injured or died due to the discharge
It is also important to know that both Florida law and federal law apply to the purchase, possession, or use of certain weapons and most firearms. Some federal laws criminalize the purchase, possession, or use of a firearm even though Florida does not. Given the severe, even life-altering, possible consequences of a conviction on weapons violation charges it is essential that you contact an experienced and aggressive attorney as soon as possible. The criminal defense attorneys at the Orner law Firm, P.L.L.C. will be by your side at each step of the process. They will review the facts of your case in detail in order to explore every possible strategy for your defense.
With offices in Boca Raton, Coral Springs and Fort Lauderdale, Orner & Orner, P.L.L.C. represents defendants in robbery and other serious criminal matters throughout South Florida, including Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Contact our offices today to schedule a free consultation.