Switch to ADA Accessible Website
Orlando Criminal Lawyer

Does A Felony Conviction Always Mean Jail Time In Florida?

Jail3

Criminal sentencing is a very complicated area of law. When a person is convicted of a felony in Florida, for example, they will not necessarily face a mandatory prison sentence. Indeed, the courts rely on a complex “score sheet” prepared by the State’s Attorney to determine whether prison is necessary for a given crime.

Briefly, the score sheet starts by assessing a “base level” for the primary offense that the person was convicted of. Any additional offenses are then added (at a fraction of the points assessed for the primary offense) and other factors are accounted for, such as whether there was a victim who suffered physical injury or if the defendant had any prior criminal convictions.

Essentially, what matters is the final score. If the score is under 22 points and the defendant was convicted of a third-degree felony, then the defendant will receive a “nonstate prison sanction,” such as probation, unless there is a written finding that a nonprison sanction “could present a danger to the public.”

Appeals Court Orders New Sentencing in Obscenity Case

As the Florida Fifth District Court of Appeal recently clarified, the question is whether the nonprison sanction poses a danger to the public, not the defendant themselves. This might sound like a distinction without difference, but it does in fact matter quite a bit when it comes to protecting a criminal defendant’s due process rights.

The case before the Fifth District, Pine v. State, offers a helpful illustration of what we mean. In this case, prosecutors charged the defendant with two counts of showing “obscene material” to a minor. This is a third-degree felony under Florida law.

The defendant requested a jury trial. The jury ultimately found the defendant guilty of one of the two third-degree felony counts. There was then a separate hearing on sentencing. As relevant here, the defendant’s score sheet showed he had less than 22 points, meaning that he was entitled to a nonprison sanction unless the jury made written findings that such a sentence could pose a danger to the public.

However, the prosecution requested–and the judge issued–an instruction to the jury that it should consider whether or not “the defendant could present a danger to the public.” The jury answered “yes,” and the court sentenced the defendant to five years in prison.

The Fifth District said that was improper and ordered a new sentencing hearing. As previously described, the correct question mandated by the statute was whether “a nonstate prison sentence” posed a danger to the public, not the defendant personally. As the appellate court noted, there are “sentencing options other than state prison which could limit the danger a defendant might pose to the public.” And any danger must be “specifically related to the nonstate prison sentence.”

Contact Orlando Criminal Defense Attorney Jose Baez Today

Even when sentencing a person convicted of a crime, there are still certain basic rules of due process that must be followed. An experienced Orlando criminal defense lawyer can help to ensure that prosecutors and courts respect those rights. Contact the Baez Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team.

Source:

5dca.org/content/download/817850/opinion/202460_DC08_12302021_082507_i.pdf

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
Miami

Miami Office

1200 Brickell Avenue, Suite 1410
Miami, FL 33131
Office: 305-999-5100
Fax: 305-999-5111
Orlando

Orlando Office

250 N Orange Ave, Suite 750
Orlando, FL 32801
Office: 407-705-2626
Fax: 407-705-2625

Email Us

Fields Marked * Are required

DISCLAIMER: Completing and submitting this form or otherwise merely contacting The Baez Law Firm or any individual at the firm will not establish an attorney/client relationship. Our firm cannot represent you until we determine that there would be no conflict of interest and that we are otherwise able to accept representation of your case. Please do not send any information or documents until a formal attorney/client relationship has been established through an interview with an attorney and you have been given authorization in the form of an engagement letter with The Baez Law Firm. Any information or documents sent via this form or otherwise prior to your receipt of an engagement letter will not be treated as confidences, secrets, or protected information of any nature. Submitting information regarding your potential case will not bar The Baez Law Firm from representing or continuing to represent a person or entity whose interest are adverse to your in condition with your case.

protected by reCAPTCHA Privacy - Terms
Please review the highlighted fields. They are required.
DISCLAIMER: This website contains information about The Baez Law Firm that includes testimonial statements from persons who are familiar with the firm's services. The testimonials shown are not necessarily representative of every person's experience with us. Testimonials from every client are not provided. As no two situations or persons are identical, the facts and circumstances of your situation may differ from those for which testimonials are shown. This website also includes information about some of the past results that we have obtained for our clients. Not all results are provided, and the results shown are not necessarily representative of all results obtained by us. No two situation are exactly alike; every person's situation is unique and the outcome for each person depends on the individual facts.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.
MileMark Media - Practice Growth Solutions

© 2015 - 2022 Baez Law Firm. All rights reserved.
This law firm website and legal marketing are managed by MileMark Media.

Contact Form Tab Contact Form Tab