If asked to identify those states with the most draconian criminal laws, meaning those that are the most severe in terms of punishment, there is a very good chance most people would list places like Texas, California and, of course, Florida.
While this may cause seem like an unfair characterization to some, those who have actually been arrested, charged and convicted of any crime here in the Sunshine State may beg to differ.
Indeed, exhibit A in this argument might be Florida’s 10-20-Life Law, which was passed by state lawmakers back in 1999 and calls for mandatory sentences for those who use a firearm during the commission of a crime.
Sometimes known as the “use a gun, and you’re done” law, the 10-20-Life Law, codified under Section 775.087 of the Florida Statutes, dictates that anyone who brandishes a gun during the commission of a felony will be given a mandatory sentence of ten years.
If a gun is discharged during the commission of a felony, the defendant will be given a mandatory sentence of 20 years, and in the event someone is injured or killed by the discharge of the gun, the defendant will be given a mandatory sentence of 25 years to life.
It’s worth noting that these are not the only scenarios in which a harsh sentence can be handed down under the 10-20-Life Law. In fact, the law also declares that felons found to be in possession of a firearm face a mandatory sentence of three years, while those found to be in possession of a firearm during the commission of certain felony-level offenses face a mandatory sentence of ten years.
What all of this really serves to underscore is that being charged with any sort of felony — particularly a violent crime — here in Florida is an incredibly serious matter. Indeed, those facing these charges must consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible in order to protect their rights, their freedom and their future.