Prior convictions can have a detrimental impact on a defendant’s punishment scoresheet. As such, if there are grounds for calling a prior conviction into question, they should be asserted, as it could ultimately result in a reduced sentence. In a recent opinion delivered in a sex crime case, a Florida court discussed the procedure for evaluating whether a prior conviction should be considered valid for the purposes of sentencing. If you are charged with a sex offense, it is smart to speak to a St. Petersburg sex crime defense attorney to assess what defenses you may be able to assert.
The Case Background
It is alleged that the defendant was charged with two counts of sexual battery on a mentally defective victim, one count of lewd and lascivious behavior, and one count of unlawful sexual activity with a minor. He was convicted and sentenced. Following his sentencing, he filed a motion to correct a sentencing error in which he contested three prior convictions that contributed to his scoresheet. Among these convictions were two counts of burglary of an unoccupied conveyance, a conviction for lewd or lascivious molestation on a person under 12 years of age, and a grand theft auto conviction. The trial court failed to issue a ruling on the motion within the mandated 60-day period, though, and it was deemed denied pursuant to Florida law. The defendant appealed.
Contesting Prior Convictions in Florida Criminal Matters
On appeal, the court explained that in cases where a defendant contests the veracity of their prior convictions, the State is required to provide competent evidence corroborating these convictions. Unfortunately, in this instance, the trial court did not demand such evidence despite the defendant’s assertions that his prior convictions were improper. As such, the court determined that an evidentiary hearing was warranted to assess the contested prior convictions. The goal of the hearing is to ascertain whether the appellant’s scoresheet requires correction based on the accuracy of the prior convictions. Continue Reading ›