When a person is convicted of committing a crime, the court will rely on numerous factors in determining an appropriate sentence. While the court is permitted to consider some information outside of the facts relating to the present conviction, if a court considers certain evidence, such as crimes for which the defendant was not convicted, the sentence may be improper. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida case in which the defendant successfully argued that his sentence for two separate sex crimes involving minors should be overturned. If you are accused of committing a sex crime against a child, it is critical to meet with a knowledgeable Clearwater sex crime defense attorney to discuss your rights.
Facts of the Case
It is reported that the defendant was charged with multiple crimes involving sex acts with minors. He was found guilty of two of the charges and subsequently sentenced. The defendant then filed an appeal, arguing in part that the trial court judge improperly relied upon conduct the defendant was found not guilty of committing to determine an appropriate sentence. The appellate court found in favor of the defendant and remanded the case for a new sentence.
Factors Weighed in Determining a Sentence
Under Florida law, a judge may not rely on or consider conduct for which a defendant was acquitted when assessing what sentence to issue. In other words, it is well-established law that when the record demonstrates that the trial court relied upon previous acquittals in determining an appropriate sentence, the State bears the burden of proving that the judge’s consideration of the prior acquittals played no part in the assessment of a sentence.