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Spotlight Falls on Two Florida Men with Vastly Different Sentences Due To Race

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An article recently featured on snopes.com has captured headlines, and examines whether and to what extent race played a part in sentencing passed down for two defendants here in Florida.

The article specifically addresses the trials of Chase Legleitner and Lamar Lloyd, who were sentenced, one year apart, by the same judge–Florida 19th Circuit judge Sherwood “Chip” Bauer–both for armed robbery.

Lloyd, who is black, reportedly received a sentence of 26 years in prison, while Legleitner (white) received two years’ time served, for the same crime, as we discuss below.

Florida Sentencing Guidelines

Florida sentencing guidelines involve a “point” system, whereby points are added based on various factors involved in the crime committed, such as whether the victims suffered any injuries, whether the defendant has a criminal history, whether a firearm was used during the commission of the crime, etc. One that these points have been tallied, the judge is supposed to use an established formula in order to calculate the lowest permissible sentence in months.

In Lloyd and Legleitner’s cases, the minimum sentence was 82.65 months in both cases, with a maximum sentence potential of life in prison. Therefore, while Lloyd’s 13-year sentence was technically within the range of sentencing guidelines, what was startling involved the leniency shown to Legleitner, who was not even assigned the minimum set out in the sentencing scoresheet. While judges can depart from the minimum sentence provided for by the scoresheet, they must provide their reasons, in detail, on the record. These reasons typically involve factors such as the existence of plea bargains, mental capacity issues, if a defendant was an accomplice instead of a major participant in a crime, etc. None of this appeared to be relevant in these cases; rather, it appeared that, in Legleitner’s case, both the defense attorney and prosecutors simply agreed that Legleitner qualified for a departure because he was “contrite and remorseful.” 

Lloyd and Legleitner’s Cases, Compared

In fact, the two cases share a startling number of similarities: Legleitner was 19, Lloyd was 21 years old when the crimes were committed; Legleitner robbed three men involved in a drug deal, Lloyd robbed a Pizza Hut and gas station; both men pled no contest to two counts of armed robbery; both went in front of the same judge (Bauer); in the same courtroom; and both only had a single misdemeanor from the past on their records.

Florida Civil Rights & Criminal Defense Attorneys

This is not the first time that Judge Bauer has come under scrutiny for sentencing black defendants to sentences that are two to three times longer than white defendants who commit the same crimes, and in the cases of Lloyd and Legleitner, one sentence was 13 times longer.

There is also no question that racial disparities have long been a contentious aspect of our criminal justice system, with the statistics revealing that it is absolutely something that must not only be a concern, but must also be addressed. Not only have studies found that people of color are more likely to be charged more harshly than whites, but once charged, they are also more likely to be convicted and face stiffer sentences.

If you have been the victim of discrimination in racial sentencing, contact our experienced Orlando criminal defense attorneys at the Baez Law Firm today to find out how we can help.

Resource:

snopes.com/fact-check/legleitner-lloyd-florida-race-sentence/

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