Florida Court Determines Whether a Sentence for a Theft Crime is Reasonable

While identity theft typically does not cause bodily harm, it is nonetheless a serious crime, and many people convicted of such offenses can spend years in prison. Regardless of the nature of an offense, though, the punishment imposed must be reasonable; otherwise, it may be overturned. Recently, a Florida court examined what constitutes an appropriate sentence for aggravated identity theft and other offenses in a case in which it rejected the defendant’s appeal. If you are accused of a theft crime, it is in your best interest to speak to a Tampa theft crime defense lawyer about your options for seeking a favorable outcome.

Historical Background of the Case

Allegedly, the defendant was charged with aggravated identity theft and access device fraud in violation of federal law. He pled guilty to both charges pursuant to a written plea agreement. The facts in the plea agreement indicated that the defendant obtained personal identifying data from over 100 victims and then used the data to access dormant credit cards or obtain new cards.

Reportedly, he then used the cards in stores throughout the country and sold the materials he purchased with the cards on the internet. The total financial losses caused by the theft exceeded $650,000. The court accepted the defendant’s guilty plea, following the magistrate’s recommendation. It ultimately imposed a sentence of 96 months imprisonment, which was above the range set forth in the sentencing guidelines. The defendant appealed. Among other things, he argued that the sentence was unreasonable.

Determining Whether a Sentence is Reasonable

The court affirmed the defendant’s sentence on appeal. The courts determine whether a sentence is substantively unreasonable in light of the statutory factors pertaining to the imposition of a sentence and in consideration of the totality of the circumstances. The courts must weigh all of the statutory factors but have discretion as to what weight to grant each factor.

A party challenging the reasonableness of a sentence then bears the burden of showing it is unreasonable in light of the factors. The court clarified that it would not overturn a sentence absent a firm and definite conviction that the sentencing court clearly made an error of judgment in weighing the statutory factors, which resulted in a sentence that fell outside of the range of reasonable sentences as dictated by the facts of the case.

In the subject case, the court concluded that the defendant’s sentence was substantively reasonable, as it was well below the statutory maximum, which indicated reasonableness, and the sentence to his second count was mandatory. Thus, the court rejected his appeal.

Confer with an Assertive Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney

Theft crimes are zealously prosecuted in Florida, and people found guilty of theft offenses often face lengthy sentences. If you are charged with identity theft or any other theft offense, it is wise to confer with an attorney as soon as possible. The assertive Tampa lawyers of Hanlon Law are well versed in what it takes to obtain successful results in criminal matters, and if you hire us, we will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can reach Hanlon Law via the form online or at 813-228-7095 to set up a meeting.