The Florida legislature enacted laws setting forth sentencing guidelines that the courts must consider when determining an appropriate penalty for a criminal conviction. Courts have the discretion to set forth sentences outside of the guidelines, though, if they deem it appropriate in consideration of any relevant factors. Any sentence that falls outside of the guidelines must be reasonable, however, otherwise it may demonstrate an abuse of discretion. Recently, a Florida court discussed what constitutes a reasonable sentence in a case in which the defendant was convicted of producing child pornography and other sexual offenses involving minors. If you are charged with a sex crime, it is smart to hire a Clearwater sex crime defense lawyer to help you mount a compelling defense.
The History of the Case
It is reported that the defendant was charged with and convicted of enticing a minor to engage in sexual acts and producing child pornography. He was subsequently sentenced to life in prison. He appealed, arguing that the sentencing court abused its discretion in issuing the sentence. The appellate court disagreed, finding that the sentence imposed was substantively reasonable.
Evaluating Whether a Sentence is Reasonable
The courts review the reasonableness of a sentence for an abuse of discretion. If a sentence falls outside of the range suggested by the guidelines, the reviewing court can consider the degree of the deviation but must defer to the sentencing court’s determination that the sentencing factors, in their entirety, justify the degree of the variance.
Further, a court reviewing whether a sentence is reasonable will not substitute its own judgment for that of the sentencing court but will affirm a sentence as long as it is within the realm of permissible outcomes. Conversely, a sentence will be deemed substantively unreasonable and will therefore constitute an abuse of discretion if it affords substantial weight to an irrelevant or improper factor, neglects to grant consideration to relevant factors that should have substantial weight, or demonstrates a clear error in judgment in consideration of the relevant factors.
Although sentencing courts must consider all sentencing factors, it is within their discretion as to what weight each factor should be given, and a court will not question that discretion as long as the sentence imposed is reasonable. In the subject case, the court ultimately stated that the defendant failed to demonstrate that the sentencing court committed an abuse of discretion and therefore found that the sentence imposed was substantively reasonable. Thus, it denied the defendant’s appeal.
Meet with a Trusted Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney About Your Charges
People convicted of sex crimes may be sentenced to lengthy prison terms that surpass what is contemplated under the sentencing guidelines. If you are charged with an offense of a sexual nature, it is in your best interest to hire an attorney. The trusted Clearwater attorneys of Hanlon Law have ample experience defending people charged with serious crimes, and if you engage our services, we will advocate aggressively on your behalf. You can contact Hanlon Law via the online form or by calling 727-897-5413 to set up a meeting.