Florida Court Discusses Prior Offender Scores

Battery is a severe charge that carries weighty penalties. Additionally, if a person convicted of battery is later found guilty of another crime, their penalties may be increased. In most cases, crimes are classified according to their severity, and convictions for more egregious crimes can result in long prison sentences. A Florida court recently reviewed how previous record points are assessed for crimes that are not classified by degree in a case where the defendant claimed his prior convictions for battery and other charges were unjustly calculated. If you are charged with battery or any other crime, it is in your best interest to  consult with an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney to discuss your options for seeking a just result.

History of the Case

Allegedly, the defendant was charged with battery, kidnapping, and other offenses. He was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. He filed a motion in July 2020, alleging that the life sentence he received for kidnapping was excessive. In other words, he argued that his sentencing guideline scorecard was inaccurate because his previous conviction was in the early 1970s when Florida crimes were not classified by degrees. Additionally, he asserted that because the degrees of his previous convictions were not defined, they should have been classified as third-degree felonies. The court denied his petition and he appealed.

Determining Prior Offense Scores

On appeal, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling. The court of appeals noted that in 1972, Florida began classifying felony offenses into degrees. The court also stated that where a prior violation is not defined by degree, it is appropriate to score it using the present, comparable statute. As such, the court concluded that the defendant’s scorecard was not miscalculated. Furthermore, based on the defendant’s lengthy record of criminal behavior, even if the scorecard was recalculated, resulting in a range that fell below life imprisonment, the sentencing court may have sentenced him to the same punishment regardless.

The court went on to say that, under Florida law, if the trial court could have imposed the same sentence under the corrected scorecard, any scorecard error will be considered innocuous if the motion seeking to amend an unlawful sentence is pursued more than two years after the conviction is final.┬áHere, the court explained that the defendant’s numerous prior convictions would have resulted in a prior offender score of 524, which carries a recommended range of life imprisonment under current equivalent statutes. As a result, the trial court’s decision was upheld.

Speak with a Trusted St. Petersburg Defense Lawyer

Criminal convictions can result in significant penalties long after a sentence is served. If you are charged with a crime it is in your best interest to speak with an attorney regarding your charges and what the State must prove to obtain a conviction. The trusted St. Petersburg criminal defense attorneys of Hanlon Law can advise you of your possible defenses and aid you in seeking a just outcome. You can reach us at 727-897-5413 or through the form online to set up a conference.

 

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