The conviction and sentencing of Jacksonville resident Marissa Alexander under the Florida 10-20-Life law sparked debate about the fairness of mandatory prison terms. Alexander claimed that she fired a gun into the air when her husband, who had a history of domestic abuse, was threatening her. The jury found her guilty of aggravated assault and because she fired a gun, the judge was compelled to impose the mandatory sentence of 20 years in jail.
Ironically, if Alexander had killed her husband, she might have been charged with manslaughter and gotten a much lighter sentence. She also had the chance to accept a plea bargain for a three-year prison term. Instead, she argued that she was entitled to defend herself under the Stand Your Ground statute. After reviewing the details of the encounter, a judge refused to accept this defense.
The 10-20-Life law was created to deter violent repeat felons. There is now mandatory sentencing for:
- Producing a gun while committing certain felonies — 10 years
- Firing a gun while committing certain felonies — 20 years
- Shooting someone while committing certain felonies — 25 years to life
This Florida gun violence statute does not allow judges any leeway, even when there are extenuating circumstances. Therefore, it is crucial that you get the representation of an experienced defense attorney after a felony arrest involving a gun. The Byrd Law Firm has provided solid legal defense for clients accused of many kinds of criminal offenses. We will help ensure that your legal rights are not violated and that you get a fair hearing.