Florida Mandatory Sentencing Laws May See Reform

Criminal cases can be complicated to litigate even without dealing with mandatory sentencing. Recently, Florida’s mandatory sentencing law has come into question by two Florida state Representatives. Their aim is to begin to reforming a very strict law that even judges have commented give them no discretion in sentencing.

The current law in place has been called, the infamous 10-20-life mandatory minimum. It creates mandatory sentencing in criminal cases. A few high-profile cases that have caused  this law to be questioned, they include the case of Marissa Alexander and Michael Giles. Alexander fired a warning shot at her estranged husband who had previously assaulted and harassed her. The shot caused no bodily harm, however Alexander was sentenced to 20 years in prison – even though she had no criminal record. Giles used a firearm after he was attacked in a brawl and received 25 years in prison.

Sen. Aaron Bean and Rep. Neil Combee have proposed a reform to this bill, that admittedly will not fix all the problems, but begins to chip away at it. The Self-Defense Protection Act (HB 135) creates exceptions for individuals who the court finds had a “good-faith belief that using a firearm was justified.”

The proposal of this Act creates room for judges to use their discretion in some criminal cases, a place where many judges have expressed a desire to exercise more. While this is just a baby step in reforming harsh mandatory sentencing laws in Florida, it is a start.

If you find yourself facing a criminal charges and desire the aid of an experienced attorney, call Yardley Law. We are constantly keeping up with new proposals, laws, and acts that affect our clients. We will keep you informed on HB 135, and any other criminal law proposals, as Florida’s mandatory sentencing law is further scrutinized.


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