Articles Posted in Sentencing

Under Florida law, if a defendant is convicted of a crime, the penalty imposed will depend on several factors, including the nature of the crime, the defendant’s criminal history, and the likelihood the defendant will commit another criminal offense. In some cases, the court will sentence a defendant to probation in lieu of jail time. A defendant sentenced to probation must comply with the terms and conditions of probation which are set by the court at the time of sentencing.

If a defendant violates any of the terms of probation it can result in a revocation of probation and a sentence of imprisonment. A Florida appellate court recently analyzed the State’s burden of proof in showing a defendant’s probation violation warrants revocation, in a case in which the defendant’s violation was revoked due to a willful violation.  If you are charged with a probation violation in Tampa, it is critical to speak with a trusted Tampa criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to prepare a defense.

Facts Regarding the Defendant’s Probation

In some cases, it is beneficial to enter a guilty plea to criminal charges. It is essential that prior to entering a guilty plea a defendant understands the full extent of penalties he or she may face. If a defendant pleads guilty to a crime but is not fully informed of the potential sentences for the crime, he or she may be able to withdraw the plea.

A Florida appellate court recently addressed the standard for allowing a defendant to withdraw a plea after a conviction, in a case in which the defendant was not informed of mandatory sentencing requirements prior to entering his plea. If you are Tampa resident facing criminal charges, you should meet with a capable Tampa criminal defense attorney to discuss the potential penalties for the charges you face.

Facts Regarding the Defendant’s Plea and Sentencing

Reportedly, the defendant was involved in a motor vehicle collision in which he rear-ended another vehicle. The driver of the other vehicle was paralyzed and the defendant was charged with DUI involving serious bodily injury to another.  The trial court advised the defendant during a change of plea colloquy that his driver’s license may be suspended “for additional periods” if he pled guilty to a drug offense. The court did not mention any other revocation. The defendant plead guilty, after which the State requested that the court permanently revoke the defendant’s driver’s license. Further, the State noted that the statutory minimum revocation was for three years.

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Criminal defendants who plead guilty or no contest to criminal charges or are convicted of crimes following a trial may be sentenced to a term of probation in lieu of incarceration. Standard terms of probation typically include the requirement that the defendant refrains from violating any laws or committing any new offenses. If the State alleges a defendant on probation committed an offense, it can result in a revocation of the probation and increased penalties.

Recently, a Florida appellate court discussed the State’s burden of proof in revocation hearings, in a case in which the court reversed a trial court’s finding that the defendant had committed a crime. If you reside in Tampa and are facing criminal charges or the potential of revocation of your probation, it is in your best interest to consult a skilled Tampa criminal defense attorney to help you in your efforts to retain your rights and protect your future.

Facts of the Case

Reportedly, the defendant was on probation for various crimes. During his probation, it was alleged that he committed new offenses, thereby violating his probation. Specifically, it was alleged that he used cocaine and committed the offenses of theft, dealt in stolen property, and provided false verification of ownership to a secondhand dealer. A probation revocation hearing was held, after which the court found the defendant violated his probation by committing the alleged offenses and revoked his probation. The defendant appealed, arguing in part, that there was insufficient evidence he provided false verification of ownership to a secondhand dealer.

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If a defendant is convicted of a felony charge, the court will employ a sentencing scoresheet to determine what it believes to be an appropriate sentence. If a scoresheet includes points which should not be attributed to the defendant, it can result in an inappropriately high sentence. The points assessed against a defendant will not be disturbed, however, unless it is shown the court’s award of the points constituted an abuse of discretion.

For example, a district appellate court of Florida recently rejected a defendant’s argument that his sentencing scoresheet improperly included points for victim injury, finding the evidence of record clearly indicated the victims were injured. If you live in Tampa and are facing criminal charges, it is important to retain an experienced Tampa criminal defense attorney who will fight diligently to help you in your pursuit of a successful outcome under the circumstances.

Facts Regarding the Alleged Crimes

Reportedly, the defendant entered a bank and forced multiple tellers to go into the bank’s vault at gunpoint. He hit each of the tellers over the head and sexually assaulted one of the tellers. When he was fleeing the scene, he fired his gun at approaching officers. He was detained and charged with several counts, including attempted murder, aggravated battery with a firearm, sexual battery, kidnapping with a firearm and aggravated assault with a firearm.

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Under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), if a person convicted of a crime is deemed a career criminal, he or she may face increased penalties. The United States Supreme Court recently ruled in Johnson v. United States, that the residual clause in the ACCA was unconstitutionally vague. As such, offenders previously sentenced to increased prison terms under the residual clause of the ACCA may be eligible for a reduced sentence. Each case must be evaluated on an individual basis, however, to determine whether the Johnson ruling will affect an enhanced sentence.

Recently, in a case appealed from the Southern District of Florida, a federal appellate court ruled that attempted murder is a violent felony and therefore grounds for increased penalties under the ACCA. If you are a resident of Tampa who has prior convictions and are currently facing criminal charges, you should meet with a knowledgeable Tampa criminal defense attorney to discuss your available options and defenses.

Defendant’s Prior and Current Convictions

Reportedly, the defendant was convicted in Florida for first-degree attempted murder. He was subsequently charged with being a felon in possession of ammunition. He was tried and convicted of the charges. The defendant’s presentence investigation report showed he was subject to an enhanced sentence under the ACCA for attempted first-degree murder, armed robbery, and aggravated battery. He was sentenced to 204 months in prison. Following the Johnson ruling, he filed a motion to reduce his enhanced sentence, arguing his prior convictions could no longer be considered violent felonies. His motion was dismissed. The defendant then appealed on the issue of whether his conviction for attempted first-degree murder constituted a violent felony. On appeal, the court affirmed his enhanced sentence.

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In each criminal case, the defendant must choose which plea to enter, and in some cases it is prudent for a defendant to enter a guilty plea. Even if a defendant waives his or her right to a trial by conceding guilt, however, he or she is still afforded certain rights with regard to sentencing.

A district court in Florida recently vacated a sentence in a DUI case and remanded the case for resentencing, due to an error made by the trial court in the evidence considered in sentencing the defendant. If you are a Tampa resident charged with a crime, it is important to retain an experienced attorney who can assist you in trying to prevent the state from introducing any prohibited evidence against you.

Charges and Sentencing

Reportedly, the defendant was charged with DUI manslaughter following a fatal crash and entered an open guilty plea. During the defendant’s sentencing, the sentencing scoresheet submitted listed eleven prior offenses, each of which occurred in or before 1999. The total points for the defendant’s prior record, as indicated by the scoresheet, was 9.4. The trial court sentenced the defendant to 132 months’ imprisonment, with a mandatory four year sentence, to be followed by two years of community control and two years of probation. The defendant subsequently appealed. On appeal, the defendant argued that none of the prior offenses on his sentencing scoresheet should have been listed due to the age of the offense.

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A defendant charged with a crime in Florida can enter any plea provided for by the law. While a person charged should not enter a plea without thoroughly weighing the consequences, in some cases even if a plea was entered after careful consideration a defendant may wish to change his plea. Under Florida law, a defendant can file a motion to withdraw a plea at any time prior to sentencing. In a recent case ruled on by the District Court of Appeals for the Second District of Florida, if a defendant’s attorney does not honor his or her wish to withdraw a plea, it can result in a conviction being overturned.

Reportedly, the defendant entered a no contest plea to burglary and grand theft charges. The defendant was then found incompetent and his sentencing hearing was delayed for two years. He was represented by one attorney while negotiating his plea deal and a second attorney at his sentencing. At the sentencing hearing, per the defendant’s request, his attorney requested a renegotiation of his plea deal, due to the fact he did not understand the plea colloquy and proceedings.

The court declined to renegotiate. The defendant’s attorney stated he did not believe a good faith basis existed for withdrawing the plea and did not move to withdraw the plea. Additionally, the court never asked the defendant if he wanted to withdraw his plea. The trial court subsequently sentenced the defendant to fifteen years in prison followed by fifteen years of probation. The defendant then filed an appeal, arguing ineffective assistance of appellate counsel on several grounds. The appellate court found in favor of the defendant and reversed his sentencing.

When you work with a skilled Tampa criminal defense attorney there are several ways that they can help you after you have been charged with a crime. They can help defend you against the charges. They can also help you negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor. Another thing that they can do is to help with sentence mitigation if the defendant is found guilty. This case involves the latter.

Downward Departure

The defendant in this case is a woman with no prior criminal record before this prosecution. After working for a couple for eight years as the housekeeper and groundskeeper of their house in Florida, she was charged with burglary and trespassing. Her job duties involved taking care of the home while the couple was away, although she was never supposed to spend the night there. After many satisfactory years as an employee she began dating a man who had drug issues and was also a convicted felon. He allegedly pressured her to sleep at the house and stay there while the couple was away. He also allegedly stole property from the couple and the defendant herself, including checks. He testified at trial that the defendant was not involved with the taking of property.

The defendant petitioned the court for a downward departure in her sentence. The court granted this petition and she was sentenced to six months in the county jail, followed by fifteen months of community service and five years of probation. Without the downward departure she would have faced 21 months to 15 years in jail.

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If you are convicted of a Florida theft crime, the sentencing stage can have a huge impact on not only your future but also your family’s future. Probation and alternative sentences are often available in criminal cases. Even if you’re looking at prison time, it’s important to make the strongest possible case for the shortest possible stretch behind bars. Florida’s Second District Court of Appeals recently explained that there are limits on the evidence that judges can take into account when making a sentencing decision.The defendant was arrested, charged, and convicted of robbery and carjacking stemming from an incident in Tampa. He was allegedly involved in a variety of other incidents while being held in a local jail, awaiting trial. Following his conviction, the judge held a hearing to determine how he would be punished for the crime. Prosecutors asked the judge to send him to prison for 15 years. They called several correctional officers who worked at the jail where the defendant was being held to testify. Those officers told the court that the defendant was involved in at least two physical altercations at the facility and that they found papers in his cell indicating that he was affiliated with the Latin Kings, a well-known jail gang.

The prosecutors also presented a statement from the carjacking victim, who talked about how the crime had affected her life. The victim asked the judge to give the defendant the maximum sentence allowable under the law. The judge eventually sentenced him to 12 years behind bars. On appeal, however, the Second District said the trial court wrongly relied on evidence of his misdeeds in jail in imposing the penalty. It cited the state Supreme Court’s 2016 ruling in Norvil v. State, in which the high court said a court can’t use a person’s subsequent crimes without convictions to support a sentence for earlier, unrelated crimes.

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