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Fort Myers Criminal Defense Lawyer / Blog / Criminal Defense / Florida’s 10-20-Life Law Explained

Florida’s 10-20-Life Law Explained


If you’re facing firearm-related charges in Fort Myers, you should take a moment to understand Florida’s “10-20-Life” laws. Although you might have heard about these laws, you may not be clear on how they may affect your unique situation. While internet research can certainly provide insights, it often makes sense to consult directly with a qualified, experienced Fort Myers criminal lawyer.

The 10-20-Life Law Summarized

In Florida, a wide range of crimes can lead to consequences under the “10-20-Life” law. Its official name is Florida Statute 775.087, and it is a mandatory minimum sentencing law. Enacted in 1998, this law was intended to combat gun crime – specifically the use of firearms in violent felonies. Prior to the passing of this legislation, the mandatory minimum sentence for brandishing or using a firearm in a violent felony was three years in prison. The law gets its name from three mandatory minimum sentences:

  • 10 Years in Prison: If you produce a firearm during the commission of a qualifying felony, you will receive a prison sentence of at least 10 years. For example, you might draw a firearm while carrying out a bank robbery.
  • 20 Years in Prison: If you discharge (fire) a firearm while carrying out a violent felony, you will face a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison. For example, you might fire a gun into the air while carrying out a carjacking.
  • Life in Prison: If you shoot someone with a firearm while carrying out a violent felony, you will face a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years to life in prison. You will face this penalty regardless of whether the person struck by your bullet dies. For example, you might have exchanged fire with a rival gang during a “drug deal gone bad.” If a civilian is struck in the foot by a ricochet from one of your bullets, you may face 25 years to life.

A wide range of potential crimes fall under this legislation. Examples include murder, arson, battery, abuse, burglary, assault, drug offenses, kidnapping, stalking, carjacking, and home invasions.

The 10-20-Life Law Doesn’t Just Apply to Firearms 

It is also worth noting that this legislation doesn’t just apply to firearms. Although most people face consequences under this law for firearms offenses, other weapons may qualify. Perhaps most notably, you could face consequences under this section for crimes related to “destructive devices.” The definition of destructive devices is quite broad in Florida, and it can apply to relatively simple weapons. Examples of destructive devices include homemade pipe bombs, Molotov cocktails, and other incendiary or explosive items.

 Find a Qualified Firearms Defense Lawyer in Fort Myers 

If you’ve been searching for a qualified, experienced weapons offense lawyer in Fort Myers, look no further than Foley & Wilson. Over the years, we have helped numerous defendants strive for positive results – including those facing consequences under the “10-20-Life” laws in Florida. To discuss your specific situation in more detail, reach out and book a consultation at your earliest convenience.




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