Experienced Defense Attorney Discusses Sentencing Departures
Are you scoring prison? You may have a legal basis for a sentencing departure. The Criminal Punishment Code (CPC) governs the state of Florida. Sentencing guidelines are calculated based on a point system. Calculating a score sheet can be complicated depending on the charges filed and a person’s criminal history. The points determine the lowest permissible sentence when a person is charged with a felony.
At the Finkelstein Firm, P.A., I offer the Clearwater community the experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense representation they need. I am Jenna Finkelstein, and my goal is obtaining the optimal results in every case I take, starting with explaining the details of whatever criminal defense issues my clients are facing.
What You Should Know About Sentencing Departures
A court may depart from the sentencing guidelines or give a person less than the minimum sentence as calculated by the score sheet if there are mitigating circumstances that justify such a departure. Florida Statute §921.0026 sets forth the circumstances that a court may consider:
- The state attorney and the defendant may agree to something less than the guidelines sentence.
- If the defendant was a minor participant in the crime, then the court may depart.
- The defendant did not have the capacity to appreciate the criminal nature of the offense or did not have the ability to conform to the law due to a diminished capacity.
- The defendant has a mental disorder that is unrelated to substance abuse or any type of addiction and requires specialized treatment for that disorder. Additionally, the defendant must be amenable to treatment.
- The case involves restitution, and the payment of restitution outweighs the need for a prison sentence.
- The victim was the initiator or provoked the behavior that led to the defendant’s crime.
- The defendant was acting under duress or acting under the domination of another person.
- The victim was compensated substantially prior to the defendant being identified.
- If the defendant cooperates with the state to resolve the crime or any other crime, then the court may depart.
- The defendant shows remorse and acted in an unsophisticated manor and the incident was isolated. In other words, they have little or no prior criminal history.
- At the time of the incident, the defendant was too young to appreciate the consequences of the offense.
- The defendant may be sentenced as a youthful offender. The requirements are that the defendant has not previously been sentenced as a youthful offender and that they are sentenced prior to their 21st birthday.
- If the crime is a nonviolent felony, then the sentencing points are less than 60 and the defendant is amenable to a post-adjudicatory treatment-based sentencing program.
- The defendant was making a good faith effort to assist or obtain assistance for someone who was experiencing a drug overdose.
Although this list sets forth reasons a judge may depart, the decision to depart is discretionary. If I am able to establish through an evidentiary hearing that one or more of the mitigating circumstances applies, then they may convince the presiding judge that they should depart. There are some mandatory sentences that are not eligible for departures, which will be discussed in a blog.
At the Finkelstein Firm, P.A., I have obtained departures in hundreds of cases over the years. If you or someone you know has been arrested for a felony and you think a prison sentence is your only option, think again.
Let Me Handle Your Case
The Finkelstein Firm, P.A., is a full-service Pinellas County criminal defense firm. Conveniently located in Largo, my office is only minutes away for Clearwater and St. Petersburg residents. I regularly handle the criminal defense for residents of Largo, Pinellas Park, Seminole, Madeira Beach, Indian Rocks, Kenneth City, St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg Beach, Treasure Island, Clearwater, Clearwater Beach, Safety Harbor, Dunedin, Palm Harbor and Tarpon Springs.