When a person pleads guilty or is otherwise convicted of a crime in Florida, judges will determine their sentences. While sentences may be imposed immediately upon the conclusion of criminal trials in some minor cases, felony offenses generally involve additional steps in the criminal justice process that can impact the length of the sentences that alleged offenders receive.

Statutory maximum sentences depend on the grade of offense an alleged offender has been charged with, but prosecutors are required by the Florida Criminal Punishment Code to complete criminal code scoresheets that determine minimum sentences in these cases. Additionally, a judge may also order a presentence investigation report by a probation officer that details the alleged offender’s background and criminal history.

Lawyer for Criminal Sentencing Hearings in Brooksville, FL

If you were arrested for or have already been convicted of a criminal offense in Central Florida, it will be in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel. The Law Office of Ashley Aulls, P.A. fights to get criminal charges reduced or dismissed, but can also present mitigating factors so people convicted of crime in the Sunshine State receive the most favorable sentences.

Ashley Aulls is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Brooksville who represents clients all over Citrus County, Sumter County, Pasco County, and Hernando County. Call (352) 593-4115 right now to take advantage of a confidential consultation that will let our lawyer provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case.

Overview of Sentencing in Florida Criminal Cases

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Presentencing Investigations in Hernando County

Under Florida Statute § 921.231, a court can refer a case to the Department of Corrections for investigation and recommendation when an alleged offender is found guilty or enters a plea of nolo contendere or guilty. A probation officer with the Department of Corrections will be responsible for compiling a presentence investigation report that includes all of the following:

A complete description of the situation surrounding the criminal activity with which the alleged offender has been charged, including a synopsis of the trial transcript, if one has been made; nature of the plea agreement including the number of counts waived, the pleas agreed upon, the sentence agreed upon, and additional terms of agreement; and, at the alleged offender’s discretion, his or her version and explanation of the act;

  • The alleged offender’s sentencing status, including whether the offender is a first offender, habitual offender, or youthful offender or is currently on probation;
  • The alleged offender’s prior record of arrests and convictions;
  • The alleged offender’s educational background;
  • The alleged offender’s employment background, including any military record, his or her present employment status, and his or her occupational capabilities;
  • The alleged offender’s financial status, including total monthly income and estimated total debts;
  • The social history of the alleged offender, including his or her family relationships, marital status, interests, and related activities;
  • The residence history of the alleged offender;
  • The alleged offender’s medical history and, as appropriate, a psychological or psychiatric evaluation;
  • Information about the environments to which the alleged offender might return or to which the offender could be sent should a sentence of nonincarceration or community supervision be imposed by the court and consideration of the offender’s plan concerning employment supervision and treatment;
  • Information about any resources available to assist the alleged offender, such as treatment centers, residential facilities, vocational training programs, special education programs, and/or services that may preclude or supplement commitment to the department;
  • The views of the person preparing the report as to the alleged offender’s motivations and ambitions and an assessment of the alleged offender’s explanations for his or her criminal activity;
  • An explanation of the alleged offender’s criminal record, if any, including his or her version and explanation of any previous offenses; and
  • A statement regarding the extent of the alleged victim’s loss or injury.

A presentence investigation report should also include a recommendation as to disposition by the court, and it is a duty of the Department of Corrections to make a written determination as to the reasons for its recommendation. The Department of Corrections shall include an evaluation of the following factors:

  • The appropriateness or inappropriateness of community facilities, programs, or services for treatment or supervision;
  • The ability or inability of the department to provide an adequate level of supervision for the offender in the community and a statement of what constitutes an adequate level of supervision; and
  • The existence of other treatment modalities which the offender could use but which do not exist at present in the community.

It is important for alleged offenders to consult their criminal defense attorneys before interviews as part of presentence investigation reports, as the ways in which they present themselves can have a dramatic impact on the recommendations made by the Department of Corrections. People who present mitigating circumstances may be more likely to receive parole than a prison sentence.

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Criminal Punishment Code Scoresheets in Brooksville

Maximum sentences for criminal offenses are established under Florida Statute § 775.082. In felony cases, prosecutors are required to complete criminal code scoresheets that determine minimum sentences for alleged offenders.

The scoresheets take a wide variety of factors into consideration and assign each factor a predetermined numerical value. Prosecutors will include numbers for the alleged offender’s primary offense, and additional offenses, and all previous convictions (unless an alleged offender has not been convicted of a crime in the preceding 10 years).

Some of the other factors that can also impact an alleged offender’s final score include:

  • Victim Injury;
  • Legal Status violation;
  • Community Sanction violation before the court for sentencing;
  • Prior Serious Felony; and
  • Enhancements for primary offenses that involve violations of the Law Enforcement Protection Act, drug trafficking, motor vehicle theft, criminal gang offense, domestic violence in the presence of related child, or adult-on-minor sex offense.

After a prosecutor has assigned all applicable point values, a total of 22 points or fewer means the court must sentence an alleged offender to a non-state prison sanction (although a court can sentence an alleged offender to a state correctional facility if the court makes written findings that a non-state prison sanction could present a danger to the public). If the total exceeds 44 points, the lowest permissible prison sentence in months is calculated by subtracting 28 points from the total sentence points and decreasing the remaining total by 25 percent.

It is critical for alleged offenders to have a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer review the scoresheet calculations of prosecutors. Seemingly minor errors can have a dramatic impact on the sentence that a person receives, but an attorney can review a scoresheet and challenge any oversights or mistakes that have adverse effects on a person’s sentence.

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Florida Criminal Sentencing Resources

Florida Criminal Punishment Code Scoresheet Preparation Manual — View the manual that discusses how to complete criminal code scoresheets. The “Completing the Scoresheet” section provides instructions relating to specific items, including sentencing enhancements, determining the lowest permissible sentence, and departures/lowest permissible sentence. Appendixes include an offense severity ranking chart, non-exclusive factors to support departure, and a table of frequently charged felony offenses with severity rankings.

King v. State, 751 So. 2d 691 (Fla. 2d DCA 2000) — The Second District Court of Appeal reversed the 30-year habitual felony offender sentence of a man convicted of a lewd and lascivious act in the presence of a child, writing “that the sentence, though lawful in its duration, was vindictive due to the trial court’s statements.” The State offered the alleged offender a 15-year prison releasee reoffender sentence in exchange for a guilty plea, but he rejected the offer and elected to go to trial where he was convicted as charged after a jury trial. The Court of Appeal opinion includes a number of statements made by the trial court judge, including this quote after the alleged offender’s lawyer attempted to take some of the blame for her client not accepting the original offer and indicating that she was unable to schedule a streamlined sentencing hearing where the alleged offender could accept the State’s offer:

That’s why you’re the lawyer. You’ve got to make fast decisions. You’ve got to be able to figure out what’s in your client’s benefit when its offered, instead of wasting everybody’s time. Well, now we’ve waited [sic] everybody’s time.

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The Law Office of Ashley Aulls, P.A. | Brooksville Sentencing Lawyer

Were you arrested or convicted in Central Florida for a criminal offense? You will want to make sure that you contact The Law Office of Ashley Aulls, P.A. before your sentencing hearing.

Brooksville criminal defense attorney Ashley Aulls helps clients in and around Hernando County, including Spring Hill, Wildwood, Weeki Wachee, New Port Richey, Inverness, and several other nearby communities. He can review your case and answer all of your legal questions as soon as you call (352) 593-4115 or fill out an online contact form to schedule a consultation.

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