Under both state and federal law, there are weapons offenses and weapons enhancements. A weapons offense is a stand-alone charge which includes things like being a felon in possession of a gun, carrying an unlicensed firearm or possession of a knife with a certain type of blade. The possession of the weapon is the offense.
A weapons enhancement charge is added on to a charge of the commission of an underlying offense. For example, if you are charged with assault, and it is alleged you used a weapon, you will be charged with assault. Then, the use of a weapon will be added to the charge as an enhancement, which means any penalty imposed for the assault will be enhanced, or increased, due to the use of a weapon. The penalties are severe. It is imperative that you contact a gun charges lawyer to handle their state and federal criminal charges.
Florida’s 10-20-to Life Law
Depending on how the gun is used, whether just present, discharged or another person is shot or killed during the commission of another offense, if you are convicted of the underlying offense and the weapons enhancement, both charges require proof beyond a reasonable doubt, there are mandatory minimum sentences that will be imposed:
- If the weapon was not used, but just carried, the minimum that is added is 10 years.
- If the weapon is a gun and it is discharged, the minimum added is 20 years, even if no one was injured.
- If someone is shot and injured, or shot and killed, you will receive a minimum of an extra 25 years to life in prison.
Defenses to Weapons Enhancement Charges
Each case is evaluated according to its own specific facts. There is no one-size-fits all to defending weapons enhancement charges. You may have an alibi and they arrested the wrong person. Law enforcement may have violated your Fourth of Fifth Amendment rights under the constitution.
There may come a time when it is in your best interest to negotiate a guilty plea to the underlying offense in exchange for the prosecutor dismissing the enhancement charge.
If you have been charged with a criminal offense, and a weapons enhancement has been added, contact James Davis, an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer. Do not speak to anyone else, particularly not to law enforcement, friends or family until you talk to your lawyer.