A Palm Beach County man has pleaded guilty to charges of manslaughter with a firearm and aggravated battery stemming from a 2012 first-degree murder charge.
The defendant - who was sentenced to 20 years as part of the plea deal - was accused of shooting the victim, who was a homeless man, and then fleeing the scene.
Allegedly, the defendant and the victim had a prior altercation involving a broken window. It is unknown whether the shooting was retaliation for the broken window.
A 20-year term was imposed because under Florida’s 10-20-Life law, a 20-year mandatory sentence (day-for-day time) must be imposed when a firearm is discharged during the commission of a crime.
Had the defendant taken his case to trial on a charge of first-degree murder, he could have faced a maximum of life in prison. First-degree, or premeditated, murder is a capital offense whereby the accused can be sentenced to death by lethal injection if the state files a notice of intent to seek the death penalty, a jury recommends the death penalty after hearing evidence, and a judge decides to follow the jury’s recommendation.
Even with a mandatory minimum prison sentence you are entitled to all credit for time served you receive. While you do not receive gain time (time shaved off your sentence), you will be given credit for time spent in pretrial custody (county jail).
Eric Matheny is a Miami criminal lawyer and Broward criminal lawyer.