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Sentence Hearings

If a person is found guilty by a Jury or a Judge or pleas guilty or no-contest the person has to be sentenced at a sentencing hearing.  It is important to do everything possible to mitigate the crime to get the best sentence possible.  This is especially important with a person who has a scoresheet that scores mandatory prison.  In this case, if a plea cannot be worked out to avoid prison time then the only other way to avoid prison is to convince the Judge to do a downward departure.

Below are some examples of downward departures:

  • Legitimate uncoerced plea bargain.
  • Defendant was an accomplice to the offense and was a relatively minor participant in the criminal conduct.
  • The capacity of the defendant to appreciate the criminal nature of the conduct or to conform that conduct to the requirement of law was substantially impaired.
  • Defendant requires specialized treatment for addiction, a mental disorder that is unrelated to substance abuse or addiction; or for a physical disability, and the defendant is amenable to treatment.

Effective only for offenses committed prior to July 1; 1997—Defendant requires specialized treatment for addiction and is amenable to treatment.

  • The need for payment of restitution to the victim outweighs the need for a prison sentence.
  • The victim was an initiator, willing participant, aggressor, or provoker of the incident.
  • The defendant acted under extreme duress or under the domination of another person.
  • Before the identity of the defendant was determined, the victim was substantially compensated.
  • Defendant cooperated with the State to resolve the current offense or any other offense.
  • The offense was committed in an unsophisticated manner and was an isolated incident for which the defendant has shown remorse.
  • At the time of the offense the defendant was too young to appreciate the consequences of the offense.
  • Defendant to be sentenced as a youthful offender.

DRUG ADDICT EXCEPTION TO MANDATORY PRISON: 1Although not material to this opinion, the Legislature, in 2009, amended the first paragraph of section 948.20 as follows: If it appears to the court upon a hearing that the defendant is a chronic substance abuser whose criminal conduct is a violation of s. 893.13(2)(a)(PURCHASE OF CONTROL SUBSTANCE) or (6)(a)(SIMPLE POSSESSION), or other nonviolent felony if such nonviolent felony is committed on or after July 1, 2009, and notwithstanding s. 921.0024 the defendant’s Criminal Punishment Code scoresheet total sentence points are 52 points or fewer, the court may either adjudge the defendant guilty or stay and withhold the adjudication of guilt. ; and, in In either case, it the court may also stay and withhold the imposition of sentence and place the defendant on drug offender probation. or into a postadjudicatory treatment-based drug court program if the defendant otherwise qualifies. As used in this section, the term ‘nonviolent felony’ means a third-degree felony violation under chapter 810 or any other felony offense that is not a forcible felony as defined in s. 776.08. § 948.20, Fla. Stat. (2009) (emphasis added).

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