Felony Sentencing in Florida:
A Guidelines Scoresheet
Jan. 25, 2022
States across the country use various methods to calculate an appropriate prison term for individuals convicted of criminal offenses. Florida established the Criminal Punishment Code (CPC) scoring system that determines the appropriate sentence for people convicted of felonies, except capital offenses.
If you are facing felony charges and do not know how felony sentencing works in Florida, you must speak with a criminal defense attorney at DaytonaDefense.com. Our experienced criminal defense lawyer in Daytona Beach, Florida, has the necessary resources and expertise to advocate on your behalf and help with the reduction or dismissal of the charges against you. Our team serves clients also in DeLand, Port Orange, New Smyrna Beach, Palm Coast, Volusia County, and Flagler County.
Florida’s Criminal Punishment
Florida courts utilize the Criminal Punishment Code (CPC) scoring system when considering the appropriate sentence for individuals convicted of felony crimes. The guidelines scoresheet helps courts determine the minimum allowable prison sentence. Many factors affect the calculation of the score.
Florida’s criminal punishment scoring system assigns a certain Offense Level to every felony offense. The Offense Levels range from one to ten and carry a certain number of points. The more severe the criminal offense, the higher the Offense Level. However, the Criminal Punishment Code may also assign additional points if the crime involved aggravating factors such as using a deadly weapon, another person’s injury, and other factors.
Then, the points are added together to determine if the convicted individual will be incarcerated and, if so, how long the prison term will be. Under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code, if the total number of points exceeds 44, the individual is facing mandatory prison time. However, if the defendant scores less than 44 or qualifies for the Chronic Substance Abuser Exception, the court may sentence the individual to county jail, community control, house arrest, or probation.
Levels and Point System
The Offense Levels and the point system affect whether or not the defendant will serve time in prison and how long the prison sentence will be. The sentencing depends on the total number of points scored by the defendant:
Less than 22 points. Typically, courts cannot sentence defendants to prison time if the defendant scores less than 22 points and is facing a conviction for a third-degree felony. The only exception is if the court determines that the defendant presents a danger to society.
Between 22 and 44 points. When a defendant scored more than 22 but less than 44 points, the minimum permissible sentence is a non-state prison sanction, including probation, county jail, community control, or house arrest.
More than 44 points. Defendants who accumulate more than 44 points are sentenced to prison. The minimum permissible number of months the defendant will be sentenced to is determined based on the total number of points. The court will subtract 28 from the total number of points scored by the defendant and multiply that figure by .75. The resulting number will be the minimum allowable number of months the defendant will serve in prison.
For example, if the defendant scores 50 points, the minimum number of months he could serve in prison is 16.5 months.
Factors in the Score Calculation
Many factors affect score calculation and felony sentencing in Florida. These include:
Primary and additional offenses. The primary charge is the most severe charge the defendant is currently facing. The more severe the charge, the more points it will carry. Additional offenses do not have the same points as primary offenses.
The occurrence of injury or death. If the alleged victim of the crime suffered injuries or died as a direct result of the defendant’s commission of the offense, the injury or death will be taken into account when calculating the sentence.
The defendant’s prior convictions. Florida courts also consider the defendant’s prior record when calculating the appropriate prison sentence.
Other enhancements. Florida’s CPC scoring system also includes other enhancements that increase the defendant’s score. If the criminal offense involves gang-related activity, drug trafficking, grand theft of a motor vehicle, violation of the Law Enforcement Protection Act, or domestic violence in the presence of a minor under the age of 16, the defendant’s points are multiplied by a number between 1.5 and 2.5.
Downward departure. Some mitigating circumstances may warrant a downward departure. If a defendant qualifies for a downward departure, the defendant can secure a lower sentence or avoid prison time.
Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code scoring system can be confusing, which is why many people facing criminal charges cannot properly determine felony sentencing in a case. For this reason, you need to speak with someone who has extensive experience dealing with Florida’s criminal justice system.
Legal Representation You Can Trust
At DaytonaDefense.com, our knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys have handled numerous felony cases in Daytona Beach, Florida, and throughout the state. We have successfully represented clients facing misdemeanor and felony charges in Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach, DeLand, Port Orange, Palm Coast, Flagler, and Volusia counties. Get a case review with our team of attorneys by reaching out to our office.