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Mandatory Minimums Still Issue in Florida

WTSP-TV reported on April 13 that a Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) video detailing the story of Michael Giles has been viewed nearly 50,000 times on Facebook in two days and a petition calling on Governor Rick Scott and the Clemency Board to commute Giles’ sentence had more than 130,000 supporters. Giles was sentenced to the 25 years in prison required by Florida’s 10-20-Life law after he was convicted of aggravated battery involving a firearm.

During a February 2010 night out with friends in Tallahassee, a fight broke out outside of a bar and Giles fired two shots from a firearm and struck his alleged attacker in the leg. Although the injuries were not serious and Giles was acquitted of attempted murder, he was convicted of aggravated battery.

Since the aggravated battery involved the use of a firearm, the state’s 10-20-Life mandates that shooting someone results in a minimum sentence of 25 years to life, regardless of whether a victim is killed or simply injured. In issuing Giles’ verdict, Judge James C. Hankinson said, “Frankly, I think the 25-year mandatory is overly harsh on the facts of this case, but that’s what the law requires I do … I have no legal authority to impose less than that.”

In 2016, Florida lawmakers removed aggravated assault from the list of gun-related crimes requiring a mandatory prison sentence under 10-20-Life. Unfortunately, the bill was not retroactive.

Broward County Sentencing Defense Attorney

While Governor Rick Scott’s signature on Senate Bill 228 amended Florida Statute § 775.087 such that aggravated assault was removed from the list of convictions requiring minimum sentences, several other crimes remain on that list. Under that statute, a person can still be sentenced to minimums of 10 years for possession of a firearm, 20 years for discharging a firearm, or 25 years to life for death or great bodily harm being inflicted as the result of the discharge of a firearm during the commission of an enumerated felony or attempt to commit an enumerated felony.

People can still be subject to 10-20-Life provisions if convicted of any of the following offenses:

  • Murder;
  • Sexual battery;
  • Robbery;
  • Burglary;
  • Arson;
  • Aggravated assault;
  • Aggravated battery;
  • Kidnapping;
  • Escape;
  • Aircraft piracy;
  • Aggravated child abuse;
  • Aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult;
  • Unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb;
  • Carjacking;
  • Home-invasion robbery;
  • Aggravated stalking;
  • Trafficking in cannabis, trafficking in cocaine, capital importation of cocaine, trafficking in illegal drugs, capital importation of illegal drugs, trafficking in phencyclidine, capital importation of phencyclidine, trafficking in methaqualone, capital importation of methaqualone, trafficking in amphetamine, capital importation of amphetamine, trafficking in flunitrazepam, trafficking in gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), trafficking in 1,4-Butanediol, trafficking in Phenethylamines, or other violation of Florida Statute § 67 893.135(1); or
  • Possession of a firearm by a felon.

The best way to avoid mandatory minimum sentences is to not be convicted of an applicable criminal offense. When a person is accused of any crime in Florida involving the alleged possession or use of a firearm or other deadly weapon, it is critical to immediately seek experienced legal representation.

Evan Hoffman is an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who represents residents of and visitors to Broward County arrested forĀ firearm and weapons offenses. He can fight to possibly get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed.

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