Suppose somebody commits a car burglary (F.S. 810.02 (4) (b))and gets more than $100, but less than $300 worth of loot (petit theft F.S. 812.014 (3) (a)) . This is an attempt to calculate what the recommended sentence would be under the Florida Sentencing Guidelines.
In Florida, all felony cases other than those punishable by death, are reviewed under the Florida Criminal Punishment Code (otherwise known as the Sentencing Guideline). This is done in an effort to achieve a fair sentence. The system was devised by the Florida Supreme Court in the early 1980’s to avoid disparity in sentences statewide and was originally pattern after the federal system. Under section 921.0024 (1) (a) Fla. Stat., referred to as the sentencing guidelines worksheet, four (4) criteria are examined in reaching a recommended sentence.
(I) is the “primary offense” at conviction.
(II), is any “additional offenses” committed in conjunction with the primary offense.
Under the sentencing guidelines, the primary offense in our example being a third degree felony makes it to fall under level four (4) of the Offense Severity Ranking Chart. You go to the primary offense section of the worksheet of 921.0024 and you will see under level four (4), the primary offense total is 22 points. Next, under the additional offense section of the chart you will see, a petit theft over $100, but less than $300, is a first degree misdemeanor. Going to the Additional Offenses section of 921.0024, a petit theft scores an additional 0.7 points.
III of F.S. 921.0024, is “victim injury”. Under our example, zero (0) points is added because burglary to a conveyance and petit theft are not crimes of violence which cause victim injury.
IV is “Prior Record”. In calculating this score, all prior felonies or misdemeanors in Florida or otherwise, are scored regardless of whether the the defendant was adjudicated or not. Prior pre-trial diversion programs are not scored under the Florida Sentencing Guidelines.
Under our example, the burglary/petit theft defendant would score 22.7. Now assume now our hypothetical offender he has one (1) prior grand theft of propertyvalued over $300, but less than $5,000, (F.S. 812.014 (2) (c) 1); plus one (1) prior DUI on his prior record. We add one (1) additional point for prior record score. That is, 0.8 points is added for the prior grand theft (because it falls under level two (2) of the chart); and 0.2 for the DUI (because it falls under level one) of the prior record chart.
Now, we add all four brackets together for our for the grand total for our hypothetical defendant. He scores 23.7 points. Fortunately for “our guy”, he is not recommended for State Prison. Under the guidelines formula, he scores what is called “any non-state sanction”. This generally means he can get probation or up to 51 weeks in the county jail. Under Florida law, Circuit Judges retain the discretion, without having to articulate any legal reason on the record, to sentence the offender to prison. They cannot, however, exceed the statutory maximum sentence, which under our examples is five (5) years in prison.
There are other factors in other situations which can add points to a sentence, such as using a firearm with a high capacity box magazine during the commission of an armed robbery, etc. There are also additional points added where a person violates his probation. Examples, some one who is on felony probation and commits a new law (felony or misdemeanor) violation will get an additional 12 points added to his score under the Florida Sentencing Guidelines. In contrast, someone on felony probation who commits a technical violation, such as failing to complete a drug or alcohol class would be subject to only six (6) additional points for the violation of probation.
This is by no means exhaustive of all of the nuances under the Florida Sentencing Guidelines, but hopefully it helps provide a simple roadmap into the complexities of calculating your score under the Florida Sentencing Guidelines. If you or somebody you care about is arrested for a felony and needs advice on what they face, call us for a free consultation.