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Kissimmee Personal Injury & Criminal Attorney > Blog > Criminal Defense > Understanding Florida Felony Sentencing Guidelines

Understanding Florida Felony Sentencing Guidelines


If you are convicted of a crime in Florida, how is your sentence determined?  We know that two people convicted of the same crime may be given radically different sentences, and understanding the guidelines associated with penalties can help one to make sense of this seeming disparity.  After all, no two crimes are exactly the same, and no two outcomes are, either.  If you are facing a criminal conviction, having a sharp and dedicated defense attorney on your side can impact the outcomes.

Florida Criminal Punishment Code 

Unless you’ve committed a felony that carries the death penalty, your felony case must be reviewed according to sentencing guidelines. The point of these guidelines is to ensure fair sentencing for similar situations.  The Supreme Court of Florida devised the system decades ago, building it in the likeness of the federal guidelines, and it is based on four central criteria:

  • Primary Offense: While a number of charges may be rolled into the charging documents, the primary offense will have guidelines determining a particular number of points assigned to that level of criminal activity, which will be assigned before extenuating circumstances are considered;
  • Additional Offense(s): Further charges will all carry their own point value, to be added to a running total.  So, while a third degree felony might be the primary offense and carry a total of 22 points, another .7 points may be added if a first-degree misdemeanor is rolled into your charge.
  • Victim Injury: In the event injuries occur during the commission of the crime, additional points may be added.
  • Prior Record: Individuals with a prior record have the potential to stack up even more points.

When all the points are calculated, the corresponding penalty bracket designates the minimum and maximum sentences for the crime(s).

Mitigating Circumstances 

Departing from the minimum sentence may occur when mitigating factors justify as much.  Among the factors that may be included are the following:

  • You entered a plea bargains;
  • You were an accomplice to a crime and played a minor role;
  • You were impaired and did not understand what you were doing;
  • You have a mental disorder and are willing to undergo treatment;
  • You were responding to the victim’s provocation;
  • Compensation for the victim has already occurred;
  • There is no criminal record and you demonstrate genuine remorse;
  • You are not a legal adult;
  • It was a non-violent offense and you are willing to participate in drug-court;
  • You were trying to get medical assistance for an overdose victim.

The Scoresheet 

The computation associated with sentencing is essentially a mathematical endeavor once the crimes and any mitigating circumstances are defined.  From there, the points are tallied, and statutory minimum and maximum sentences are assigned.  The prosecutor may argue for the sentences to be served consecutively or concurrently. Your Kissimmee criminal defense attorney at the Salazar & Kelly Law Group, P.A. will fight for the best possible outcomes for you, which might include probation, participating in a drug treatment program, or other similar intervention.


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