Prosecutors at the state attorney’s office will seek longer sentences for gun-related crimes.

Stricter punishment for gun crimes

State Attorney Melissa Nelson issued a new memo to her office in pursuing gun crimes.

“We have a gun violence problem in the city of Jacksonville, and we have for a long time,” Nelson said.

Her office is responding with a memo focused on firearms, seeking longer sentences for certain felons facing gun crimes.

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“If they qualify as a class one offender, we ask for a prison sentence of at least 10 years.”

Defense attorney Kevin Carlisle, of Carlisle Law Firm, has handled hundreds of firearms cases. He says he has about 10 cases right now that would be affected by the guidelines.

“Specifically, the 10-year portion I was surprised. That seems like a significant departure at what that office has been doing,” Carlisle said.

Carlisle predicts more trials for cases where defendants have a less serious criminal history or letting a judge decide their sentence.

“I think it is going to lead to longer prison sentences for those same people, but it’s not going to deter anyone from carrying a firearm,” Carlisle said.

Nelson said more trials is a possibility under the new memo.

“They have a constitutional right to demand a jury trial, so yes, we may find ourselves trying more of these cases,” Nelson said.

Category two is designated for moderate-risk offenders, who would likely see a five- to 10-year deal from the office.

Finally, included in the memo is a diversion program that focuses on firearms training for someone who may possess a gun and not understand the law. Instead of jail time, they would go through the program if they qualify.