Florida Court Discusses Reviewing a Sentence for Reasonability

While criminal defendants will often assert their innocence, in some instances, it makes sense for them to enter a guilty plea. For example, a defendant will often plead guilty with the expectation that they will receive a reduced sentence for their convictions. Guilty pleas do not automatically result in lesser sentences, however, as demonstrated in a recent Florida case in which a woman argued that her sentence for identify theft and other crimes was unreasonable. If you are accused of a theft offense, it is wise to confer with a Clearwater theft crime lawyer attorney about your options.

Factual and Procedural Background of the Case

It is alleged that in 2019, a federal grand jury issued a superseding indictment against the defendant, charging her with multiple counts, including conspiracy to commit access device fraud, aggravated identity theft, and possession of unauthorized access devices. The defendant pleaded guilty to two counts, and the government dropped the remaining charges. The presentence investigation report (PSI) detailed the defendant’s criminal activities dating back to December 2014, when she was observed engaging in suspicious behavior at a department store with another woman.

Reportedly, the defendant and the other woman made purchases using a department store credit card under the name of an individual identified as L.B., who denied any association with the defendant. Upon the defendant’s arrest, police found multiple pieces of mail and credit cards not belonging to her in her car, along with personal identifying information (of various individuals. The defendant had previously faced charges related to similar offenses at the state level, though the case was eventually dismissed. Following her federal indictment, the PSI calculated the defendant’s offense level and criminal history, which included prior convictions for theft and fraud. The defendant was sentenced to 30 months’ imprisonment, after which she appealed, asserting that her sentence was procedurally and substantively unreasonable.

Reviewing a Sentence for Reasonability

On appeal, the court affirmed the sentence. In its analysis, the court evaluated the sentencing guidelines, the defendant’s criminal history, and the nature and scope of her offenses. Given the pattern of fraudulent behavior spanning several years, including the misuse of personal information and credit cards belonging to multiple individuals, the court found the sentence proportionate to the severity of the crimes and consistent with established legal principles.

Additionally, the court stated that the defendant’s prior convictions for similar offenses underscored the need for a substantial sentence to deter future criminal conduct and protect the public. Thus, the court determined that the district court’s sentencing decision was both procedurally sound and substantively justified, ultimately upholding the defendant’s 30-month imprisonment.

Confer with a Skilled Clearwater Attorney

People convicted of theft crimes may be sentenced to serve months or years in prison, but in some cases, they can obtain a reduced sentence by pleading guilty. If you are charged with a theft offense, it is prudent to confer with an attorney. The skilled Clearwater theft crime defense attorneys of Hanlon Law can advise you of your options and help you to choose the best course of action for seeking a good outcome. You can reach Hanlon Law by using our online form or by calling us at 727-897-5413 to set up a conference.

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