Gun charges are serious, and you may not be familiar with the technicalities of Florida’s weapons laws. We’re here to break it down for you and ensure that you don’t unknowingly find yourself in violation of the law.
Gun Law: What You Should Know
Federal and state laws give you the right to bear arms, but there are limits to how and when you can use them.
In Florida, there are three categories of gun crimes:
- Possession or the threat of use of a weapon or firearm during a felony offense
- Firing of a weapon or firearm during a felony offense
- Possession or discharge of a semi-automatic firearm or machine gun
In each of these categories, using a gun is not necessary to commit a crime. For example, possession and/or threatening to use a weapon during a robbery is not an essential part of most theft crimes. However, gun possession during a felony can elevate a sentence and increase the severity of punishment for gun charges.
Florida’s 10-20-Life Reclassification
The 10-20-Life reclassification rule applies to crimes where a gun or firearm is used as a threat or in practice. Essentially, possession of a gun in tandem with another felony offense can reclassify a sentence from 10 years to 20, or from 20 years to life. Each category of gun charges may result in an increased sentence under the 10-20-Life rule.
Let’s look at a hypothetical example for context: You’re charged with a second-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. However, the crime is reclassified to a first-degree felony upon conviction, which means the maximum penalty increases from 10 to 20 years in prison.
Category 1 Gun Charges
Category 1 gun charges apply when a person is in possession of a firearm during a felony offense. If you are charged with a felony offense, and there is evidence that you used a weapon as a threat of harm, you may face reclassification under the 10-20-Life rule. This means that instead of the standard sentence for robbery, the maximum penalty is increased and can lead to significant jail time.
Category 2 Gun Charges
Possession of a firearm during a felony offense automatically results in a minimum of 10 years’ imprisonment upon conviction.
These charges apply to gun possession during the following crimes:
- Sexual battery
- Aggravated assault
- Aggravated battery
- Aircraft piracy
- Aggravated child abuse
- Aggravated abuse of the elderly or disabled adult
- Placing or discharging a destructive device
- Home invasion robbery
- Aggravated stalking
- Trafficking controlled substances
- Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon
A weapon does not
Category 3 Gun Charges
Individuals charged with any of the crimes listed above, in addition to possession of a semi-automatic firearm, receive a minimum sentence of ten years imprisonment. If the weapon is discharged, the penalty increases to 20 years in prison, or 25 years to life if the crime results in death or injury. Category three gun charges can be applied to the offenses listed above regardless of whether the firearm was an essential element of the crime.
Avoid a Record
Charges involving weapons have severe penalties and can be devastating. Criminal charges and arrests stay on your record and are easily accessible to employers and the public. The most important thing to remember is that you aren’t alone.
Schedule an appointment with our skilled legal team at The Hoffman Firm. We work tirelessly to protect your rights and your future.