Florida Criminal Punishment Code
Stories about our criminal justice system are constantly on the news and on our airwaves. The stories pushed by the media typically fall into two categories: horrible crimes with grisly stories or defendants receiving seemingly insane prison sentences for crimes that did not justify such harsh sentences. After hearing about the latter stories, people are often mystified and wonder why the judges involved in the cases made such harsh decisions and failed to show any leniency. What most people outside of the criminal justice system fail to understand is that sometimes, those judges simply had no choice thanks to the unfair laws that we have on the books.
One of those unfair, complicated, and convoluted laws is the one creating the Criminal Punishment Code. Just in case you didn’t know, when you are charged with a crime in Florida, you are not simply punished for the crime you committed, but for every crime you have ever been convicted of in your entire life. When a person in Florida is charged with a felony offense, the prosecution creates a criminal scoresheet which assigns point values to various factors and adds all the points together. The amount of points on the scoresheet determine if and for how long a defendant will have to serve in prison if convicted of a felony offense. Scoresheets are not easy to decipher and prosecutors who create the scoresheets often make mistakes. It is therefore important that you retain a skilled Clearwater criminal defense lawyer who can attack problems with your scoresheet.How Scoresheets Work
A criminal punishment code scoresheet is literally a piece of paper with a fill-in-the blanks template to plug in different variables. First and most importantly, the primary offense is plugged in to the top line. The primary offense ranges in point values from 4 points for minor felony offenses all the way up to 116 points. The primary offense is the highest scoring offense that you are charged with if you are facing multiple criminal counts. The other counts are scored as additional offenses which can be scored from 58 points down to .2 points. These points are added together to determine the primary offense score.
Now comes the crazy part. If you have a past criminal history, you will be additionally punished for your past offenses. Were you convicted of a possession of cocaine eight years before this new offense? You’ll be punished for that as well. Each and every prior misdemeanor or felony offense will be added on to your scoresheet and added up to your total score. This creates significant problems for people that have been convicted of a serious crime in the past. For example, imagine that you were convicted of a robbery with a weapon 9 years ago, you’ve served your sentence and paid your debt to society. If you get charged today with a minor drug offense like possession of cocaine, the prior robbery case will add 29 points to your scoresheet. This will undoubtedly have a serious affect on the sentence you might receive. Scoresheet issues are nuanced and you should not hesitate to retain an experienced Clearwater criminal defense attorney to challenge problems with the score.
Other additions can be made to the scoresheet depending on the facts of the case. If someone was injured as a result of the criminal offense, the prosecution can add victim injury points which can total up to 240 points! After all the points are tallied, a simple calculation is completed an a number is given. This number is the lowest permissible sentence that someone can receive. Scoresheets are unfair and you need to have an experienced Clearwater criminal defense lawyer review yours before you accept the score that the prosecutors give you.Speak to Our Lawyers
The attorneys at Hanlon Law are prepared to deal with any complex scoresheet issue that you might be dealing with. Call us for a consultation today at (727) 897-5413.