Mandatory Sentences Under the 10-20-Life Law

In 1999, Governor Bush signed into law the 10-20-LIFE bill. The law requires a minimum 10-year sentence for crimes committed with a gun, a 20-year sentence for firing the gun during the commission of a crime and 25 years to life if the bullet fired causes death or injury.

The legislation enacted to implement the Governor's proposal provided mandatory sentences for felons convicted of crimes in which they used a gun. The following provisions [Section 775.087 (2)-(4), Florida Statutes] became effective for crimes committed on or after July 1, 1999.

Prison Sentence

For pulling a gun during a crime, a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years is imposed. For certain felony crimes or attempted felonies, the 10 year mandatory sentence is authorized if the criminal possessed a gun (or destructive device). For firing the gun during a crime the mandatory minimum sentence is 20 years. For injuring or killing a victim by firing the gun during a crime, a mandatory minimum sentence from 25 years to life in prison is authorized.

For many years, it has been a felony crime in Florida for felons to possess guns. Recognizing that felons who possess guns, despite this violation of law, may intend to commit other serious crimes using guns, the 10-20-Life legislation provided for a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 3 years for such known felons who possess a gun.

This provision alone has affected many felons sentenced to prison in Florida. The legislation also increased to a 15 year minimum prison term when the offender possesses a semiautomatic firearm and its high-capacity detachable box magazine or a machine gun.