Court Discusses Sentence Variances in Florida Criminal Cases

At both the state and federal levels, sentencing guidelines set forth what constitutes an appropriate sentence for certain offenses. The courts are not bound by the guidelines, though, and can issue a sentence that is greater or lesser than that suggested. In doing so, the court must abide by certain procedural rules, and if it fails to, the defendant may have grounds for challenging the sentence. Recently, a Florida court examined whether a court violated a defendant’s rights in issuing a sentence that represented an upward variance for a gun crime, ultimately determining that it did not. If you are accused of unlawfully possessing a weapon, it is in your best interest to meet with a Tampa weapons crime defense attorney to discuss your rights.

History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. He pleaded guilty, after which he was sentenced to unlawfully possessing a firearm as a felon. Although his advisory guidelines range was calculated as 21 to 27 months’ imprisonment, the court sentenced him to 50 months. The defendant appealed.

Sentence Variances in Florida Criminal Cases

On appeal, the defendant argued that his sentence constituted an upward departure rather than an upward variance. The court disagreed, however, ruling that the defendant’s sentence was an upward variance based on the trial court’s stated reasons for imposing it. Specifically, the court found that the trial court did not refer to a departure provision and that the grounds the trial court gave for the sentence were based on the factors outlined in the imposition of a sentence law. Thus, the court declined to adopt the defendant’s arguments that the trial court erred in failing to comply with established procedures for imposing an upward departure.

The court also rejected the defendant’s challenge to the substantive reasonableness of his sentence. In doing so, the court evaluated the substantive reasonableness of the sentence under a deferential abuse-of-discretion standard and concluded that the sentence was reasonable based on the totality of the circumstances, including whether the sentence achieved the purposes of sentencing stated in the imposition of a sentence law.

When a sentence is above the guidelines range, the court must give due deference to the trial court’s decision that the imposition of a sentence law factors justifies the extent of the variance. In the subject case, the court found that the defendant failed to show that his sentence was unreasonable. Thus the court affirmed his sentence.

Talk to a Skilled Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney

Under state and federal law, people with prior felony convictions can be sentenced to lengthy prison terms merely for possessing a gun, but simply because a person is charged with a crime does not mean that they will be convicted. If you are accused of committing a gun crime, it is smart to talk to an attorney about your potential defenses. The skilled Tampa lawyers of Hanlon Law can assess the facts of your case and aid you in seeking the best legal outcome possible. You can contact Hanlon Law by using the form online or by calling us at 813-228-7095 to set up a conference.