Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Florida’s 2013 Sentencing Laws Could Help Lessen Your Jail Time

What You Need To Know About Reducing Your Criminal Sentence In Florida

The state of Florida has sentencing laws, specifically what's called a motion for downward departure from the sentencing guidelines. As you may or may not know, if you've been charged with a felony in Florida, and based on the criminal punishment guidelines scoresheet, if you score more than 44 points, the state is generally going to be saying you are in mandatory prison range and you have to go to prison for a term.
One way to avoid this is to file a motion for downward departure.  Florida Statute 921 allows for defendants in certain circumstances to be given a different sentence alternative to prison, based on their relative status under the law.  What that means, for instance, is if a person is arrested for possession of cocaine, and based on their criminal history they are looking at mandatory incarceration based on the criminal guidelines scoresheet; but they also have a long and documented history of mental illness, and mental illness is actually a factor under the statute that can be considered by the court to set aside what would otherwise be a prison sentence and instead give that person an alternative sentence, which may include mental health treatment or probation, but the general avoidance of incarceration.
Other motions for downward departure could include cooperation with the state, working with the state, an isolated incident for which the defendant has shown remorse, cooperating with the state before they even knew that a criminal offense had been committed. All of these things may be considered by the court to overrule the guidelines scoresheet, and the state's request for mandatory prison.
However, it's important to note once again that in these cases, a defendant must open plea before the court, meaning they generally have to agree to being sentenced anything up to the maximum allowed by law by the judge, then put forth why they deserve leniency, which will lead the court to ultimately make the final ruling as to whether the motion for downward departure is granted.  If the motion for downward departure is granted, the person may receive probation, county jail, time in a mental health treatment facility, other recovery programs, or even a shorter prison sentence than the state is asking for.  All of these are possibilities as a result of a motion for downward departure that is in fact granted.  
The best way to determine if these options might be applicable to your case is if you contact me today by email or by phone at (954) 330-8994, so that we can set up a free initial consultation.

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