Articles Posted in Sentencing

In some cases, it is prudent for a criminal defendant to plead guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence. A guilty plea does not always guarantee a lesser sentence; however, as the court is free to sentence a defendant to the maximum punishment permitted. The court is not permitted to exceed the maximum sentence, however, or the sentence may be deemed illegal. This was illustrated in a recent case decided by the District Court of Appeal of Florida, Second District, in a case in which the defendant pleaded guilty to sexual battery and received a sentence in excess of the maximum sentence. If you live in Clearwater and are charged with sexual battery or any other sex crime, it is important to meet with a skilled Clearwater sex crime defense attorney to help you protect your rights.

Factual Background

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with and pleaded to guilty three separate charges of sexual battery with a deadly weapon, arising out of separate acts. Prior to pleading guilty, the defendant entered into a plea agreement with the State, in which his collective sentences were not to exceed 100 years. The court disregarded the agreement, however, and sentenced the defendant to three concurrent 90-year sentences. The defendant filed a motion to correct the sentences, arguing that as sexual batteries were life felonies, but the court did not impose life sentences, the maximum term he could be sentenced for each offense was 40 years.

Reportedly, the court subsequently issued an order stating that the defendant withdrew his motion. The defendant filed a second motion, but it was never ruled on. Finally, the defendant filed a third motion to correct his sentence. The court denied the motion stating that the issue had previously been ruled upon, and the defendant appealed.

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Florida law provides criminal defendants with certain rights and protections, in an effort to avoid unjust convictions. One example of these protections is that a defendant must be mentally competent to proceed with a trial. If a defendant is incompetent, or his or her competence is not adequately evaluated prior to a criminal hearing, it may result in a dismissal of any conviction.

In a recent case decided by a Florida appellate court, the court discussed the burden of recognizing incompetence in criminal cases. If you are charged with a criminal offense and you live in Clearwater, you should meet with a trusted Clearwater criminal defense attorney to discuss your case and possible defenses to the charges you face.

Alleged Facts Regarding the Defendant’s Competence

Reportedly, the defendant was convicted of attempted first-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder. He filed a motion to vacate his conviction alleging, in part, that his attorney was ineffective for failing to obtain a competency evaluation. Specifically, he alleged that his attorney obtained an order authorizing a mental health evaluation, but did not make sure an evaluation was completed. The defendant further alleged that he could not adequately communicate with his attorney or exercise his right to a fair trial due to his incompetence. The post-conviction court denied the defendant’s claim, after which he appealed. On appeal, the court granted his motion.

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In many instances when a defendant is charged with a crime, he or she will remain in jail until the ultimate disposition of the case. Often, when a defendant who is found guilty or pleads no contest to criminal charges is sentenced to imprisonment, a court will grant the defendant credit from time served for the time spent in jail prior to the resolution of the case.

As a Florida appellate court recently explained, once credit for time served has been awarded, Florida courts are not permitted to retract the award, even if it was given in error.  If you are charged with a criminal offense and you live in Clearwater, you should meet with a trusted Clearwater criminal defense attorney to discuss your case and possible defenses to the charges you face.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported that the defendant was charged with kidnapping and robbery in case 2010-CF-109 to which he pleaded no contest. He was sentenced to 7 years imprisonment followed by 3 years of probation. He received a credit of 460 days for time served. The plea agreement, however, credited the time served to case number 2010-CF-010, another case under which the defendant was charged. As such, the defendant received credit for time served under both cases.

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In Florida, felony convictions are reviewed under the state sentencing guidelines. The guidelines were created in an effort to impose fair and uniform sentences for felony crimes and allow the court to consider factors related to the offense to determine an appropriate sentence. When a court imposes a sentence within the statutory range set forth under the guidelines, it generally will not be disturbed.

As noted in a recent Florida appellate court case, however, an exception arises when a court considers impermissible factors during sentencing. If you are a resident of Clearwater and are presently facing criminal charges, it is in your best interest to consult a knowledgeable Clearwater criminal defense attorney to discuss the charges you face.

The Defendant’s Charges and Convictions

It is reported that the defendant shot two victims outside of a bar. He was subsequently charged with first-degree murder with a firearm, attempted first-degree murder with a firearm, and aggravated assault. Following a jury trial, he was convicted of aggravated assault and the lesser included offenses of second-degree murder and attempted manslaughter. He was sentenced to forty years imprisonment for second-degree murder, fifteen for attempted manslaughter and three for aggravated assault. During the sentencing hearing, the trial court stated that the jury found that the defendant reflected on his actions when he committed the crimes and that he spent time thinking about his intended crimes and nonetheless proceeded to commit them. The defendant appealed his sentence on the grounds that the court erred in considering any “reflection” he undertook in committing the crimes since he was not convicted of first-degree murder or attempted first-degree murder.

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When a defendant is convicted of a crime there are certain factors that the court can consider when determining an appropriate sentence. For example, a court is not permitted to consider a defendant’s arrest for a subsequent crime when imposing a sentence for the primary offense the defendant was convicted of committing.

A Florida appellate court recently ruled, however, that a trial court is permitted to consider facts underlying a subsequent arrest when considering whether to revoke a convicted felon’s community control.  If you live in Clearwater and are charged with a crime, it is important to retain an experienced Clearwater criminal defense attorney who will work diligently to help you retain your rights.

Facts Regarding the Defendant’s Criminal History

Reportedly, the defendant was convicted of second-degree murder. He was sentenced to eighteen years in prison followed by two years of community control. Four months after his release to community control the State filed an affidavit alleging the defendant violated his community control. Specifically, he failed to remain in his residence and refused to submit to a urinalysis. The State later amended the affidavit to include allegations that the defendant had recently been arrested for burglary, resisting officers without violence, and drug crimes.

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If you are convicted and sentenced to be incarcerated, in certain cases you may be given credit for any time you were in jail after your arrest for the subject charges prior to your conviction. Recently, a Florida district court of appeals defined the circumstances in which a court is required to give credit for time served, and when such credit is discretionary.  If you are a Clearwater resident currently facing criminal charges, you should retain a trusted Clearwater criminal defense attorney to help you develop arguments that will assist you in retaining your liberties.

Facts Regarding the Defendant’s Arrest and Conviction

The defendant was charged with first degree murder and burglary in Florida. The defendant was arrested in Argentina but fought his extradition to Florida for several years. During that time he remained in an Argentine jail. He was ultimately extradited and tried and convicted of the charges. He was subsequently sentenced to imprisonment. The defendant then filed a motion seeking credit for the time served in the Argentine jail. The trial court denied his motion, after which the defendant appealed.

Florida Law Regarding Credit for Time Served

Section 921.161 of the Florida Statute states that a prison sentence will not begin to run until the date such sentence is imposed, but the court imposing the sentence must grant the defendant credit for the entirety of the time he or she spent in a county jail prior to the sentence. The credit given must be for a specific period of time and the amount of time credited must be indicated in the sentence. While the law requires trial judges to give a defendant credit for time served in a Florida county jail prior to the disposition of offenses charged, the law does not require a judge to give a defendant credit for time spent in a jail in other jurisdictions.

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The United States Supreme Court recently ruled that Florida’s capital sentencing scheme was unconstitutional, in Hurst v. Florida. The Hurst ruling continues to have lasting effects in Clearwater and throughout the state, as many death sentences imposed prior to Hurst may be unconstitutional.

For example, the Supreme Court of Florida recently held that the Hurst ruling required resentencing in a case where the death penalty was imposed absent a unanimous jury recommendation.  If you live in Clearwater and are charged with a crime, it is in your best interest retain an experienced Clearwater criminal defense attorney to help you retain your rights.

Facts Surrounding the Defendant’s Arrest and Trial

Reportedly, the defendant was stopped by a police officer while driving a vehicle, when he attempted to flee. The officer followed the defendant and eventually caught up with him. The defendant stopped his vehicle, after which the officer stopped his vehicle. The defendant then exited his vehicle with a handgun and fired three shots into the officer’s vehicle. The shots hit the officer and he died from his injuries. The defendant then returned to his vehicle and fled. He was ultimately arrested without incident by other officers. The defendant was charged with and convicted by a jury of first degree murder. During the penalty phase of the trial, nine out of twelve jurors recommended death. The Florida statute in effect at that time permitted a judge to impose a death sentence if seven jurors recommended death. The judge released the jurors following the penalty recommendation.

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