In Florida, Firearm Offenses get punished in two fashions: they enhance crimes or constitute crimes themselves. The type of firearm does not matter, whether a shotgun, rifle or handgun. Even the frame or receiver of the weapon will do. Most of these offense carry minimum mandatory sentences. Here’s a brief guide to both types of Firearm Offenses.
Firearms Increase Punishments for Crimes
Most Firearm Offenses make penalties for other crimes worse in two ways. They increase the maximum punishment as well as the minimum punishment.
Firearms Increase Maximum Penalty
First, they increase the maximum by increasing the degree of the felony. For example, Florida punishes Robbery without a weapon as a second degree felony. Second degree felonies carry a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. If you carry a firearm while committing the Robbery, you face life in prison for a first degree felony.
Burglaries follow the same pattern. If you commit a car Burglary, you face a third degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison. If you steal a firearm during that car Burglary, then you face life in prison for a first degree felony. Each crime’s statute explains how possessing the Firearm changes the maximum penalty.
While those crimes include enhancements in their statutes, there’s another way for crimes to increase in penalty. If you carry, display, use or threaten to carry, display or use a firearm, the degree of some crimes increases by one. Third degree felonies become second degree felonies. Second degree felonies become first degree felonies. First degree felonies become life felonies.
Firearms Add Minimum Mandatory Penalty
Second, Firearms increase your minimum penalty too by adding minimum mandatory sentences. That means that you don’t get any gain time credited toward your release date. You can’t receive any form of discretionary early release. You do the time day for day, instead of the typical 85% of your sentence. Moreover, judges cannot downward depart below the minimum mandatory. Only the prosecutor can offer a lower sentence.
Florida lists a whole bunch of crimes which include minimum mandatory sentences when committed using Firearms. Actually possessing a Firearm during Murder, Robbery, Burglary, Aggravated Battery, Sexual Battery, Drug Trafficking and more adds a 10 year minimum mandatory sentence. Discharging a firearm during these felonies creates a 20 year minimum mandatory sentence. If as a result of the discharge, you cause death or great bodily harm, you face 25 years in prison to life.
While you’re here, check out this post from my blog discussing a new opinion on Florida Stand Your Ground law. Stand Your Ground immunity extends to people charged with Assaults and Batteries, even if you use a Firearm.
Unlike enhancement crimes, some Firearm Offenses require the use of a Firearm. Carrying a Concealed Firearm is a third degree felony, unless you have a valid concealed weapon’s permit. If you Openly Display a Firearm in public or bring it to an airport, you still face prosecution even if you have a valid concealed weapon’s permit. Felons, who haven’t had their civil rights restored, face felonies with possible minimum mandatory sentences for possessing firearms.
Because Firearm Offenses pose serious penalties, you should speak with Mr. Brown about them immediately. He has handled lots of firearm offenses and can’t wait to discuss your situation with you. He worked in a special unit as an Assistant State Attorney where he prosecuted gun offenses with minimum mandatory sentences. Before it’s too late, talk to him and see if he can help you best defend yourself!
Talk to an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney!
Mr. Brown knows these Firearm Offenses and handled lots of them over his career as an attorney. Speak with him immediately after police arrest you. Judges rarely grant bond for Firearm Offenses so you need to work hard fast to secure your release.
The criminal defense firm Brown Legal PLLC operates from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, but regularly handles cases throughout South Florida and the rest of the state. Before it’s too late, talk to Mr. Brown to see if he can help you best defense your case! Reach out over the phone at (954) 524-6700 or through the Contact Page if you have any questions.