Florida’s Sentencing Guidelines Sarasota Criminal Defense Attorney

As a Sarasota Criminal Defense Attorney a question we often get asked is will I go to jail or worse prison? There are many factors that judges consider when reaching a sentence. These include your prior record, any person injured during the crime, and additional offenses or charges. The State of Florida determines sentencing guidelines using something called a criminal punishment code scoresheet. The manual for this scoresheet is more than fifty pages long. Hiring a knowledgeable Sarasota criminal defense attorney at Pallegar Law, P.A. can make a big difference in your case. Your attorney will take all the factors on the scoresheet, isolate any errors and point them out the prosecutor.

In felony cases, scoresheets are required by law. The scoresheet takes a number of factors and assigns a number value to each one. At the end of the scoresheet, all the numbers are added up to determine your minimum sentence. For example, if the end number on your scoresheet adds up to 53, then 53 months in prison is your minimum sentence unless either the judge or the prosecutor agrees to depart. In order to avoid high minimum sentences and get your lowest permissible guideline score down, contact an experienced Sarasota criminal defense lawyer at Pallegar Law, P.A.

The first factor on the scoresheet is called the primary offense. This is the most serious charge you are faced with (or the only charge). The charge is ranked on a numerical scale, increasing with the severity of the crime. A level 1 offense like fleeing or attempting to elude law enforcement is 4 points. A level 4 offense like battery on a person 65 or older is 22 points. A level 10 offense like home-invasion robbery with a deadly weapon or firearm is 116 points.

The next section on the scoresheet is for any additional offenses. If you were charged with more than one crime, or more than one count, this is where those offenses will be factored in. Each charge is assigned a numerical value, like the primary offense. However, the point value for offenses are much lower in this section. A level 1 offense is worth 0.7 points, and a level 10 offense is worth 58.

The next section addresses victim injury (if any). If a person was injured during the crime you are charged with, the injuries will be added up in this section. Injuries are classified as slight, moderate, severe, or death, with numerical values for each one. A slight injury is worth 4 points and a severe injury is worth 40. In many cases, injury points are subjectively calculated and at the discretion of the prosecutor and judge. An aggressive Sarasota criminal defense attorney can put forward the argument that the injury was slight or moderate and really not that severe thereby reducing the points on the scoresheet are correct.

The next section takes into account your prior record. If you have previous convictions (makes no difference whether you were adjudicated guilty or received a withhold of adjudication), each one will be assigned a numerical value and added into the total score. Level 1 offenses in this section are worth 0.5, and level 10 offenses are worth 29. Convictions over ten years are typically not scored as long as remain conviction free during the interim period.

The next two sections take into account legal status violations and community sanction violations. Legal status violations are things like failure to appear in court or violating the terms of your bond. Community sanction violations are any violations of probation or community control.

Points will also be added if the charge involved the use of a firearm, drug trafficking, motor vehicle theft, or if it was a criminal gang offense. After any additional points have been added, you have your total. If the total is more than 44 points, you subtract 28 and multiply that by 0.75. That number is your minimum sentence in months. Unless your attorney negotiates with the judge or the prosecutor, that number is the legal minimum.

If you have been charged with a felony, act now. Call an aggressive Sarasota criminal defense attorney at Pallegar Law, P.A. who can help you understand the complexities associated with your scoresheet. Call 941.893-5816 for help.

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