- posted: Jul. 30, 2023
- Criminal Defense
As in other states, Florida crimes are categorized by the degree of harm inflicted on victims, in terms of bodily injury or property loss or both. Criminal sentences are determined based on the severity of the crime as well as on other factors relating to the victim, the defendant and the circumstances. If you’re facing criminal charges, there are ranges of possible punishment that affect your prospects for asserting an effective defense.
The Florida Criminal Punishment Code sets ranges of minimum and maximum sentences. For example:
- A misdemeanor is subject to up to 60 days in jail.
- A felony in the third degree is subject to up to five years in prison.
- A felony in the first degree is subject to up to 30 years in prison.
Within these ranges, the punishment code calls for assessing a score to determine what the actual sentence will be. The scoresheet adds points based on these factors:
- The exact charge — Every felony charge in Florida falls into one of 10 offense levels, each of which has a certain score. A first-level offense carries four points while a 10th-level offense carries 116 points. When a defendant is charged with multiple offenses, the points for each offense are added together.
- Prior offenses — A defendant will have additional points added to their score for prior criminal offenses of which they may have been convicted, as well as for prior legal status violations or prior community sanctions violations.
- Injury to victims — Points are added based on the nature and degree of the injury to the victim. Points are also added if a firearm was used in the commission of the crime or if the crime was committed in the presence of a child.
The points are added up to compute a total score. If the score is less than 22, the defendant generally will not be subject to any prison sentence. If the score is between 22 and 44, the defendant may be subject to prison time but not to mandatory minimum time. A score above 44 will generally trigger a mandatory minimum prison sentence.
An experienced Florida criminal defense attorney will use these sentencing calculations to determine the best strategy for litigating your case. There may be mitigating factors that can be presented to achieve a plea bargain for a lower sentence or for a change in the type or degree of offense that is charged.
At the Law Offices of Tad A. Yates, P.C. in Orlando, I represent Florida residents facing misdemeanor and felony charges and help them achieve the most favorable sentencing options possible. Feel free to call my office at 407-608-7777 or contact me online anytime to arrange a consultation.