In the State of Florida, as in most states by now, sentencing guidelines are used to determine a defendant's sentence after being convicted of a criminal offense. Sentencing guidelines typically provide a minimum and maximum sentence range within which the court should sentence the defendant. Sometimes, however, a judge will hand down a sentence that deviates upward or downward from the guidelines. When a judge sentences a defendant to more time than the maximum under the guidelines it is usually because of the presence of aggravating circumstances. If the judge considers a lesser sentence than what the guidelines recommend, on the other hand, it is typically because of mitigating circumstances. If you are potentially facing a sentence for a criminal conviction you may wish to know what constitutes mitigating circumstances in Florida.
The Florida sentencing guidelines are intended to provide uniformity in sentencing by requiring all judges in all courtrooms to refer to the guidelines when pronouncing a sentence. Although the guidelines offer a sentence range, in some cases a judge may feel that an appropriate sentence lies outside of that range either because of the presence of additional bad facts about the case or the defendant (aggravating circumstances) or because of the presence of additional good facts about the case or defendant (mitigating circumstances).
Florida Statute 921.0026 addresses mitigating circumstances, stating in relevant parts as follows:
“A downward departure from the lowest permissible sentence, as calculated according to the total sentence points pursuant to s. 921.0024, is prohibited unless there are circumstances or factors that reasonably justify the downward departure.
Mitigating factors include, but are not limited to, the following:
- The departure results from a legitimate, uncoerced plea bargain.
- The defendant was an accomplice to the offense and was a relatively minor participant in the criminal conduct.
- The capacity of the defendant to appreciate the criminal nature of the conduct, or to conform that conduct to the requirements of law was substantially impaired.
- The defendant requires specialized treatment for a mental disorder that is unrelated to substance abuse or addiction or for a physical disability, and the defendant is amenable to treatment.
- The need for payment of restitution to the victim outweighs the need for a prison sentence.
- The victim was an initiator, willing participant, aggressor, or provoker of the incident.
- The defendant acted under extreme duress or under the domination of another person.
- Before the identity of the defendant was determined, the victim was substantially compensated.
- The defendant cooperated with the state to resolve the current offense or any other offense.
- The offense was committed in an unsophisticated manner and was an isolated incident for which the defendant has shown remorse.
- At the time of the offense, the defendant was too young to appreciate the consequences of the offense.
- The defendant is to be sentenced as a youthful offender.
- The offense is non-violent and the defendant qualifies for a drug treatment program.
If you are currently facing criminal charges in the State of Florida it is imperative that you consult with an experienced Florida criminal law attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. Contact the team at Powers Sellers & Finkelstein PLC by calling 727-531-2926 today to schedule your appointment.