Our Criminal Attorneys Tampa are often asked about these issues. Many individuals previously convicted of criminal charges in Florida are incredibly frustrated with Florida’s current sentencing structure which permits the prosecution in its preparation of score sheets to continue to bring up old charges. Further, many judges in misdemeanor cases, which legally do not rely on Florida’s score sheet and sentencing system, are frustrated that misdemeanors are brought up that are literally decades old. It is worth noting that only felony charges use score sheets for sentencing purposes. This article attempts to explain the reasoning and basis behind the inclusion of old priors in Florida’s sentencing structure..
First, felonies in the state of Florida fall under the Florida sentencing score sheet structure. As we’ve discussed elsewhere in our Criminal Attorneys Tampa blog, a score sheet takes into account a multitude of factors including, but not limited to, prior arrest record, prior violations of probation, injuries to the alleged victim, and other mitigating and aggravating factors. The easiest mitigating factor and most common is either assisting law enforcement in the arrest and investigation of others and/or the need for specialized services or treatment for dual-diagnosis condition. A dual-diagnosis condition is one that is both mental and relates to a drug or alcohol problem. These are the two most common basis for a downward departure in Florida. It’s worth noting that the Florida sentencing structure does not permit an individual to seek a downward departure based solely on an addiction. This was likely the Florida Legislature attempting to demonstrate that they did not believe someone should get some sort of benefit from their substance abuse. As Criminal Attorneys Tampa, this is obviously frustrating and very difficult because at the heart of the overwhelming majority of criminal matters is some sort of substance abuse.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that prior convictions for certain crimes can lead to enhanced sanctions and criminal charges from the State Attorney’s Office in Florida. For example, if someone is a prior convicted felon, they obviously cannot possess a firearm. If they are found with a firearm as a convicted felon, they face the charge of felon in possession of a firearm which carries a three-year minimum mandatory if the felon is in actual possession of the firearm. Other examples of charges that can only be raised due to prior convictions include, but are not limited to felony driving while license suspended or revoked, felony prostitution and/or felony petty theft. These occur when an individual is adjudicated of the misdemeanor charge three times in five years. This permits the State Attorney’s Office to charge the otherwise misdemeanor charge as a felony with a maximum sentence of five years in a Florida state prison due only to the prior convictions. An otherwise misdemeanor battery charge can be enhanced to a felony, when an individual has a prior battery conviction.
Our Criminal Attorneys Tampa will work with the State Attorney’s Office to either work to mitigate these prior charges by showing how our clients have changed, our client’s needs and the unique circumstances of the case. We truly understand the frustration for folks who feel that they have served their sentence once, and they shouldn’t continue to be punished for it. It’s also especially frustrating that there isn’t a time limit for the application for the majority of these defenses. Unfortunately, though, the current state of Florida law allows these issues to otherwise occur. Until the law changes, we’ll continue to battle for our clients in Florida courtrooms to do our best to mitigate and prevent these prior criminal charges from continuing to rear their ugly heads.
If you or someone you know has questions concerning their score sheet and/or their sentence in their Florida criminal case, contact the Criminal Attorneys Tampa of Hackworth Law for a free case consultation. Our consultations are always free, and we’ll determine an aggressive and effective strategy for your criminal case. If you would like to contact one of our Criminal Attorneys Tampa immediately, please use the “Contact Us Now” tab in the upper right-hand corner of our website. We also have a free, secure chatbox in the lower right hand corner of our website, where you will actually speak to an attorney, rather than an intake specialist, paralegal, secretary, etc. This is just one of the many ways we are significantly different than other firms in Tampa. We appreciate your taking the time to check out our Criminal Attorneys Tampa blog and look forward to working with you.