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Tue Jul 2, 2013, 11:11 AM

Florida Sentencing laws and the Zimmerman trial

This post is to explain some details of Florida sentencing laws, specifically the "10-20-Life" law, and how they relate to the Zimmerman trial.

Some people have expressed surprise that this case wasn't plea bargained down to a lesser offense (such as manslaughter), and others have expressed dismay that the prosecution might not be able to convict on second degree murder charges. Understanding the sentencing laws in this case could help provide clarity on these issues.

Slightly simplified; the Florida "10-20-Life" law requires that anybody convicted of a crime that involved shooting another person is going to face a prison sentence of 25 years to life. This sentence is automatic and there is no judicial discretion.

First point: Consider what this means with regards to a plea bargain. GZ was charged with second degree murder. The penalty for this crime is 25 years to life. If GZ had accepted a plea bargain down to manslaughter, he would still be facing 25 years to life. If GZ had accepted a plea bargain down to aggravated battery, he would still be facing 25 years to life. Any "reasonable" plea that could have been offered to GZ would have effectively had the same penalty so there is little incentive in this case to offer or accept a plea.

Second point: What verdict would be a "win" for the prosecution in this case? Although GZ has been charged only with second degree murder, the jury can choose to find him innocent on that charge but guilty on a lesser charge. Under Florida law, there are four possible charges in this case that the jury could convict GZ of:

* Second degree murder
* Manslaughter
* Aggravated Battery
* Battery

Being convicted of any of the first three charges will trigger the "10-20-Life" law. Being convicted of simple battery would not, however aggravated battery under Florida law means "battery with a deadly weapon". Since GZ clearly did use a deadly weapon, it is nearly inconceivable that a jury could find him guilty of simple battery.

Since any of the first three charges trigger the "10-20-Life" law, effectively any one of them is as good as the other for the prosecution. GZ will be facing 25 years to life if convicted of any.

Basically then, there are three outcomes that are a victory for the prosecution and only one that is a victory for GZ.

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Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 11 replies Author Time Post
Reply Florida Sentencing laws and the Zimmerman trial (Original post)
SlipperySlope Jul 2013 OP
Roland99 Jul 2013 #1
SlipperySlope Jul 2013 #2
darkangel218 Jul 2013 #3
Roland99 Jul 2013 #11
Mr. David Jul 2013 #4
darkangel218 Jul 2013 #5
SlipperySlope Jul 2013 #6
darkangel218 Jul 2013 #7
Tommy_Carcetti Jul 2013 #8
premium Jul 2013 #9
Hoyt Jul 2013 #10

Response to SlipperySlope (Original post)

Tue Jul 2, 2013, 11:14 AM

1. Two for GZ

the 4th in your scenario, and an acquittal of all charges.

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Response to Roland99 (Reply #1)

Tue Jul 2, 2013, 11:17 AM

2. True, but I think simple battery is almost impossible.

Aggravated battery is battery with a deadly weapon. It is extremely difficult for me to think of a scenario where the six women on the jury would agree that GZ committed battery but decide he did not use a deadly weapon. Sure, juries do strange things, but I would call that would highly unlikely.

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Response to Roland99 (Reply #1)

Tue Jul 2, 2013, 11:18 AM

3. Which is not going to happen. nt

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Response to darkangel218 (Reply #3)

Tue Jul 2, 2013, 11:55 AM

11. Hope not...from what I'm reading up here but can never count it out when dealing w/juries

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Response to SlipperySlope (Original post)

Tue Jul 2, 2013, 11:20 AM

4. Based on Mark O'Mara's handling of thecase.....

 

Zimmerman's good as fucked with 2nd degree.

I hope he enjoys LWOP.

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Response to Mr. David (Reply #4)

Tue Jul 2, 2013, 11:21 AM

5. whats LWOP?

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Response to darkangel218 (Reply #5)

Tue Jul 2, 2013, 11:22 AM

6. Life without parole - N/T

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Response to SlipperySlope (Reply #6)

Tue Jul 2, 2013, 11:23 AM

7. Ahh ok, thanks. nt

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Response to Mr. David (Reply #4)

Tue Jul 2, 2013, 11:24 AM

8. I don't think LWOP is on the table for 2nd Degree.

Life with the possibility of parole could be an option, however.

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Response to Mr. David (Reply #4)

Tue Jul 2, 2013, 11:26 AM

9. And yo're basing this on what?

 

2nd degree murder doesn't carry a sentence of life without parole.

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Response to SlipperySlope (Original post)

Tue Jul 2, 2013, 11:26 AM

10. Good, "aggravated battery" is fine with me. Let's see how tough george is in prison


without his gun. Maybe he can be a cell block monitor.

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