Guidance As to When Imposing Consecutive Mandatory Minimum Terms Is Permissible for Crimes Occurring During a Single Criminal Episode
In State v. Christian, 692 So. 2d 889 (Fla. 1997), the Supreme Court of Florida provided additional guidance as to when imposing consecutive mandatory minimum terms is permissible for crimes that occurred during a single criminal episode.
In that case, a fight occurred at a bar, and Larry Christian shot the first victim from behind three times, killing the victim. Christian, 692 So. 2d at 890.
Christian then shot and wounded the second victim, a person who had attempted to intercede.
After a jury trial, Christian was convicted of second-degree murder with a firearm, aggravated battery with a firearm, and discharging a firearm in an occupied building.
He was sentenced to concurrent twenty-five, fifteen, and fifteen-year terms of imprisonment respectively, with the three-year mandatory minimum portions of the first two firearm offenses running consecutively. Id.
Christian asserted that the trial court could not impose consecutive sentences because the multiple mandatory minimum terms were based on a single firearm used in one continuous episode.
This Court disagreed, holding that even though section 775.087, Florida Statutes (1993), was silent concerning the stacking of mandatory minimum terms, case law permitted imposing consecutive mandatory minimum sentences for offenses arising from a single criminal episode "where the violations of the mandatory minimum statutes cause injury to multiple victims, or multiple injuries to one victim." Id. at 890.
As the Court explained, "the injuries bifurcate the crimes for stacking purposes," and hence imposing consecutive "mandatory minimum terms thus is permissible where the defendant shoots at multiple victims, and impermissible where the defendant does not fire the weapon." Id. at 890-91.