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Felony Sentencing in Florida

Defend Ocala Feb. 22, 2024

Court in sessionIn Florida, a felony is considered a serious criminal offense. It's more severe than a misdemeanor and carries a potential sentence of more than one year in prison.

This classification of crime is not taken lightly and can result in significant fines and other penalties. 

At Defend Ocala, we're committed to keeping our community informed about the ins and outs of Florida's legal system. If you're facing charges and have yet to choose an attorney, we encourage you to reach out to our defense lawyers for a consultation today.

Examples of Felony Offenses in Florida 

Examples of felony offenses in Florida cover a wide range of illegal acts, including but not limited to

  • Murder: The intentional killing of another person. This is one of the most severe crimes under Florida law. The minimum penalty is life imprisonment, with the maximum penalty being the death sentence. 

  • Manslaughter: This refers to the unlawful killing of another person without premeditation. It can be either voluntary or involuntary, with penalties ranging from several years in prison to life imprisonment. 

  • Robbery: The act of forcibly taking another person's property. This felony offense can result in up to 30 years in prison. 

  • Burglary: Illegally entering a structure with the intent to commit a crime. Depending on the circumstances, penalties for this crime can range from several years to life in prison. 

  • Kidnapping: The unlawful abduction or confinement of another person against their will. This is a severe crime in Florida, potentially resulting in a life sentence. 

  • Sexual Battery: Engaging in non-consensual sexual intercourse or other sexual acts. Penalties for sexual battery can include imprisonment for life or a term of years. 

  • Drug Trafficking: The illegal sale, transport, or distribution of controlled substances. Depending on the type and quantity of drugs involved, penalties can range from several years to life imprisonment. 

  • Grand Theft: The theft of property valued above a certain threshold. This felony offense can lead to imprisonment for up to 30 years. 

  • Fraud: Deceptive practices used to obtain money or property. This includes offenses like identity theft and insurance fraud, with penalties varying based on the specific offense committed. 

  • Aggravated Assault: The intentional threat or attempt to cause bodily harm to another person with a deadly weapon. This felony offense can lead to imprisonment for up to 5 years. 

Please remember, the penalties mentioned are general guidelines and may vary depending on the specific circumstances of each case and any prior criminal history. If you or a loved one is facing felony charges, it's crucial to seek legal counsel immediately. We're here to help guide you through these challenging situations and fight for your best outcome.  

How Does Felony Sentencing Work?: Understanding The Florida Criminal Punishment Code

At Defend Ocala, we believe that informed clients make the best decisions. That's why we're here to explain how felony sentencing.  

First, let's discuss the Florida Criminal Punishment Code (FCPC).  

This is the cornerstone of felony sentencing in Florida. The FCPC assigns a point value to each felony offense based on its level of severity. There are 10 levels in total, with points ranging from four for a level 1 offense to 116 for a level 10 offense.  

  • For instance, a level 1 offense might include petit theft of the second degree, a nonviolent crime where the value of property stolen is relatively minimal. Such an offense carries a lower point value and, generally, less severe penalties.  

  • Conversely, a level 10 offense represents the most serious felonies under the FCPC, such as first-degree murder, which is assigned the maximum point value and can result in the harshest penalties, including life imprisonment or the death sentence.  

The total points associated with a defendant's offenses can significantly impact their sentencing. 

If a defendant's total points fall below 22, they're usually not eligible for a prison sentence, unless a jury determines that a non-prison sentence would pose a danger to the public.  

If the total points range between 22 and 44, the defendant becomes eligible for a prison sentence. Still, there's no minimum required prison sentence.  

On the other hand, if a defendant scores more than 44 points, additional calculations come into play, which can lead to a minimum permissible prison sentence. 

So, how do we calculate this minimum permissible prison sentence? This is how: subtract 28 from the total sentencing points and multiply the result by 0.75. This calculation gives us the lowest permissible sentence that a defendant may receive. 

Other Considerations

However, it's crucial to remember that the lowest permissible sentence isn't necessarily the actual sentence a defendant will receive. The court has the discretion to impose a sentence between the lowest permissible sentence and the statutory maximum. If a relevant criminal statute includes a mandatory minimum sentence, the sentence must be at least that minimum, even if the calculated lowest permissible sentence is shorter. 

There are also circumstances where the court can impose a sentence below the calculated minimum. This is known as statutory mitigation. It involves applying statutory mitigating factors found in Florida Statute 921.0026. Judges have more discretion to impose a sentence above a defendant's guideline score than to impose a sentence below it. 

Some common statutory mitigators include the defendant's capacity to recognize the criminal nature of their actions, the presence of a mental or physical disability or addiction requiring special treatment, the need for restitution to the victim outweighing the need for incarceration, and the defendant's cooperation with the state. 

Does Florida Have the Death Penalty?

Yes, Florida does have the death penalty. This form of capital punishment is an option for certain severe crimes, such as first-degree murder. However, its application is subject to strict legal procedures and extensive appeals.  

If you're facing charges that could potentially lead to the death penalty, it's crucial to seek experienced legal representation immediately. At Defend Ocala, we have extensive experience defending clients in capital cases and are prepared to fight for your rights and best interests. 

Enlist Strong Representation

Felony sentencing in Florida is a multi-faceted process guided by the Florida Criminal Punishment Code and influenced by various factors. This includes the severity of the offense, the defendant's total points under the FCPC, and any applicable statutory mitigating factors.  

At Defend Ocala, we're here to navigate this terrain with you and lead you toward the fair outcome you're entitled to. We serve clients throughout Marion County and Lake County, including the communities of Clermont, Leesburg, Tavares, and Eustis. Reach out today to share your story and put our experience in your corner.