Sec 12022.53 of the California Penal Code is the state’s action to impose mandatory minimum prison terms for the use of firearms in the commission of certain dangerous and/or violent felonies. This is also called as California’s “use a gun and you’re done law” and is considered among the harshest law on this matter in the United States.

The following are the particular aspects of the 10-20 law:

• Incarceration of ten (10) years in prison for using a gun;
• Incarceration of twenty (20) years for firing a gun;
• Incarceration of twenty five (25) years for killing or seriously injuring another person with a gun;

The abovementioned are in addition to and are served consecutive to the sentence received for any felony conviction. Thus, this law is a sentencing enhancement which is in force for using a gun in the commission of a crime. This sentencing enhancement is applicable to serious felonies under California law, which includes but not limited to the following:

• Sec 187 of the California Penal Code or the Murder Law;
• Secs. 203 and 205 of the California Penal Code or the Mayhem Laws;
• Secs. 207, 209 and 209.5 of the California Penal Code or the Kidnapping Laws;
• Sec 211 of the California Penal Code or the Robbery Law;
• Certain designated sex crimes under California law;

As defined by law, use of a firearm includes the intentional display of the firearm in a menacing manner, fire it or strike another person using the gun. When the gun is used to facilitate the felony, even just as a threat, the enhancement may be imposed. There is no need to point the gun at the victim, so long as the presence of the firearm induces coercion upon the victim.

Discharging a gun, according to legal experts, is defined as the aiming of the firearm at a person and then pulling the trigger. Even if there is no firing of the gun, due to a malfunction and there was no bullet discharged, the act of discharging a gun is completed when the trigger is squeezed.

As for causing great bodily injury or death to any other person other than an accomplice, the following laws are covered under this sentencing enhancement:

• Sec 246 of the California Penal Code or “shooting at an inhabited dwelling or occupied car”;
• Sec 12034 of the California Penal Code or “discharging a firearm from a motor vehicle (drive-by shooting)”;

There is nothing in the law that stipulates that any injury or death caused by gunfire must be present for the law to apply. Thus, even if there is no gunshot wound, so long as the injury or death is caused by the gunshot, the sentencing enhancement applies. As defined, proximate cause is the act or omission that sets in motion a chain of events that produces as a direct, natural and probable consequence of the act or omission the great bodily injury or death and without which the great bodily injury or death would not have occurred.

The application of 10-20 law is a serious matter in California. Should you be or know anyone facing any of these charges, do reach out to the lawyers at the Law Offices of Ramiro J. Lluis for a free consultation today.