Florida Court Assesses the Reasonableness of a Sentence

If a defendant is convicted of a crime, the court will typically weigh a variety of factors in determining an appropriate sentence. While there are many things that a court is permitted to evaluate in making an assessment, if a court is influenced by inappropriate information in developing a sentence, it may lead to an unjust result. In a recent Florida ruling in a case in which the defendant was convicted of arson, a court discussed the evaluation of the reasonableness of a sentence under the prevailing law. If you are accused of arson or another crime of violence, it is advisable to speak to a seasoned Tampa violent crime defense lawyer about your options.

The Defendant’s Sentence

It is reported that the defendant was charged with arson after he took part in the burning of a car that was used in a drive-by shooting that resulted in the death of another person. He was initially charged with multiple crimes related to a racketeering conspiracy and was later charged with murder. He ultimately pleaded guilty to the arson charge, which carries a minimum sentence of five years and a maximum sentence of twenty years. He was sentenced to twelve years in prison, after which he appealed, arguing that his sentence was unreasonable and the court relied on inappropriate information in determining his sentence.

Evaluating the Reasonableness of a Sentence

A court assessing the substantive reasonableness of a sentence must weigh the totality of the circumstances, including whether there was any deviation from the sentencing guidelines. A court may deem a sentence substantively unreasonable if it was based on impermissible factors, if the sentencing court failed to weigh appropriate factors, or if it was selected arbitrarily. The appellate court in the subject case noted, however, that a matter will only be remanded for re-sentencing in cases in which the court is left with a firm and clear conviction that the sentencing court committed a definite error in judgment in evaluating the relevant factors, which resulted in a sentence that lies outside of the scope of reasonable sentences as dictated by the facts of the case.

In the subject case, the defendant argued that his sentence was unreasonable because it relied on inappropriate factors, namely those inferring he was involved in the murder of another person and in a racketeering conspiracy. The court was not persuaded by the defendant’s arguments, noting that the record did not support his claims. The court also rejected the defendant’s argument that the sentencing court did not properly analyze appropriate factors. The court noted that the sentencing court was not required to consider all of the relevant factors, just some, and the record indicated the sentence was proper based on the factors evaluated. Thus, the defendant’s sentence was affirmed.

Speak to a Knowledgeable Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney

Convictions for arson and other violent crimes can result in lengthy sentences, and it is critical for people faced with criminal charges to speak to a lawyer regarding their potential defenses. William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is a knowledgeable Tampa criminal defense attorney, and if you are charged with a crime, he can advise you of your options for pursuing a successful outcome. You can contact Mr. Hanlon via the online form or at 813-228-7095 to schedule a conference.