Florida Court Discusses Scoring Out-of-State Convictions During Sentencing

In Florida, people convicted of sex crimes may be sentenced to lengthy terms in prison. Additionally, if they have a history of prior convictions, their sentence may be increased. As discussed in a recent Florida opinion, this is true regardless of whether the convictions were imposed by another state. If you are faced with sex crime charges, it is smart to talk to a Clearwater sex crime defense attorney promptly.

Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was found guilty by a jury of sexual battery, domestic battery, and harassing a witness. Following sentencing, the defendant filed a motion under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.800(b)(2), alleging errors in scoring several Ohio convictions on the sentencing scoresheet. The trial court granted the motion in part and denied it in part, choosing not to resentence the appellant. The defendant then appealed.

Scoring Out-of-State Convictions During Sentencing

On appeal, the defendant raised concerns about the scoring of the Ohio convictions and the application of a sentencing multiplier for a sex crime committed in front of a child. The court affirmed the trial court’s ruling on the second issue without discussion. Regarding the first issue, the court considered the scoring of the Ohio aggravated robbery conviction. The defendant argued that only the elements of the out-of-state crime should be considered when determining its analogy to a Florida statute for scoring purposes.

The court acknowledged this principle but noted that when the scoring of an out-of-state conviction is contested, the trial court may consider the out-of-state judgment and, if necessary, the charging document to determine its elements for comparison with a relevant Florida statute.

The defendant, however, did not seek an evidentiary hearing to challenge the scoring of the Ohio convictions or provide proof of the elements of the Ohio aggravated robbery conviction. The court concluded, therefore, that the defendant failed to show the trial court erred in considering the scoresheet points for the Ohio conviction without proper evidence.

Further, the court explained that even if the court agreed with the defendant’s argument, the error was harmless. The court applied the “would-have-been-imposed” test and found that, after reviewing the sentencing proceeding, the trial court would have imposed the same sentences even with the requested correction for the Ohio aggravated robbery conviction. The trial court, in justifying the sentences, focused on the severity of the appellant’s attack on the victim and the presence of their minor child during the assault. As such, the court affirmed the trial court’s rulings on the rule 3.800(b)(2) motion and the appellant’s sentences, remanding only for the entry of a corrected scoresheet as ordered in the partial grant of the motion.

Talk to a Skilled Clearwater Attorney

Convictions for sex crimes carry significant penalties, and the punishments imposed may be increased if the defendant has an extensive criminal history. If you are charged with a sex offense, it is wise to talk to an attorney about your potential defenses. The skilled Clearwater sex crime defense attorneys of Hanlon Law can inform you of your rights and aid you in taking the steps necessary to protect your interests. You can reach Hanlon Law by using our online form or by calling us at 727-897-5413 to set up a meeting.

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