Florida Senate approves major change to state's 10-20-Life law
A unanimous Florida Senate on Thursday removed the crime of aggravated assault from the list of gun-related crimes that require an automatic 20-year prison sentence under a law known as 10-20-Life.
The 38-0 vote is the latest sign by lawmakers across the political spectrum that minimum mandatory prison sentences, in which judges have no discretion in sentencing, are in some cases are arbitrary and unjust. The 10-20-Life law took effect in 1999, the first year Jeb Bush was governor, during a wave of gun-related crime across Florida.
The bill (SB 228) is sponsored by Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach. It is widely supported by prosecutors and public defenders, has passed three committees in the House with no dissenting votes, and is likely to reach Gov. Rick Scott's desk before the current legislative session ends. The legislation is motivated by a number of so-called "warning shot" incidents in which people fired a gun to defend themselves or to scare someone. Even though no one was injured, the 10-20-Life required an automatic 20-year sentence.
The sponsor of the House version (HB 135) is Rep. Neil Combee, R-Polk City.