Sentencing Guidelines and Minimum Mandatory Penalties
Larry Sandefer - Criminal Defense Attorney & DUI Defense Attorney
Sandefer Law Firm - Serving Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Tampa Bay, and the state of Florida
Over 30 Years Courtroom Experience
Former Dividion Director and Lead Trial Lawyer
Over 5000 Criminal Cases Handled
Hundreds of Jury Trials as lead or sole counsel
In the State of Florida, there are various degrees of crimes. Most are generally classified as felonies or misdemeanors. Felony charges are of varying degrees with differing consequences.
A third degree felony carries a maximum of 5 years in prison. It may carry a lesser sentence or probation.
A second degree felony carries a maximum of 15 years in prison and may also carry a lesser sentence or probation.
A first degree felony carries a maximum of 30 years in prison but may also carry a lesser sentence of even probation. A first degree felony punishable by life carries up to a life sentence but may carry a lesser sentence and may also carry probation. A life sentence carries a sentence of life imprisonment with no parole and no other possibility. A capital felony carries either a mandatory life sentence or the penalty of death. This would be in the case of a first degree murder or a capital sexual battery.
Florida has also passed laws regarding the use of firearms and sentencing. The 10-20-life law calls for minimum mandatory sentences when firearms are used in certain crimes. The PRR (Recent Prison Releasee) sentencing also calls for mandatory prison sentences as does the Habitual Felony Offender Statute (HFO). Trafficking laws also carry certain minimum mandatory sentences from 3 to 25 years. Other sentencing is subject to Florida punishment code. Sentencing code sentencing is a scoring mechanism where certain types of past and present charges are assigned scores and certain minimum sentences may apply. Even if a minimum sentence applies, it may be possible to request a Judge to "depart" from the guideline sentence and give a lesser sentence if certain statutory or non-statutory mitigating factors may apply. Also, other sentencing options may apply to your case such as drug court or even a diversion program which can result in your case not proceeding to court and ultimately in a dismissal of a charge without having to proceed to trial.
Other sentencing alternatives may also apply for youthful offenders and also for juveniles, those persons under 18. However, juveniles may also be 'certified' as adults and face adult sentencing.
Even if the charge you are facing carries certain minimum sentences, there may be ways to change or avoid those minimums. Every case is different. Every person is different. We are here to help you.
It is important for you to consult with an experienced attorney to discuss ways in which your case may be handled and whether it is possible to have your record later sealed or expunged and defenses or what sentencing alternatives may apply to your particular situation.
Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Cases such as Drug Trafficking, 10-20-LIFE, and Habitual Offender Statues
Florida legislators have continued to pass tougher laws on sentencing for certain types of offenses. Any use of a firearm in the commission of a crime will probably fall under the law requiring a minimum of 10 years in prison for possessing the gun, 20 years for firing one, and mandatory life for use of a gun where someone is wounded. These are minimum requirements. It is important to explore all possible defenses and aggressively approach these cases from a defense standpoint. It is important to know that there may still be ways to avoid the minimum sentence even upon a plea in some cases. The age of the offender is one of those instances.
Pinellas, Pasco, and Hillsborough Counties as well as most counties in the state of Florida now have drug courts. Certain cases may qualify for entry in to drug court which focuses on recovery and treatment instead of punishment. You may qualify or be able to be qualified if that is a good option in your case. Not all cases are best served in drug court, but if yours is, completion of court could result in no conviction of the charge or charges. Sandefer Law Firm can assist you in obtaining an assessment and with entry in to drug court as well as helping you proceed through the drug court process and completion.
Often for cases that are not appropriate for or qualified for drug court we may still direct you to an appropriate counselor or evaluator that can only assist you by assist us in resolving your case it the best possible manner.
Diversion or Dismissal of Charges
Please talk with us about Diversion Programs which may be available to you and can result in the dismissal of charges without trial.
Also ask us:
- If a Withholding of Adjunction is possible which may allow a plea but no conviction. Is that something we many want to pursue?
- Can you get your arrest sealed or expunged?
These are only some of the questions we can answer for you.
Mental Health, Drug, and Rehabilitation Referral
It may also be advisable for you to enroll in certain types of classes such as anger management or family violence before going to court. We can direct you to the person and program best suited for your needs and your case. Sandefer Law Firm can also match your needs with specific outpatient or residential drug program referrals as may be suggested for your particular situation or needs.
Over thirty years of trial and courtroom experience gives us the ability to assess your case and provide you with access to the resources we need to help you.
It is important to discuss your case with an experienced attorney. Please Contact us today for your FREE initial consultation.
Sandefer Law Firm trial attorneys represent individuals in Criminal Defense, DUI Defense, Drug Crimes, Domestic Violence, Sex Crimes, and Personal Injury cases throughout the Tampa Bay Florida area including Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Largo, Seminole, Pinellas Park, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, New Port Richey, Pasadena, St. Pete Beach, Indian Rocks Beach, Redington Beach, Bradenton, Sarasota, Ft. Myers, and all surrounding areas.
Please Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation