Florida Court Discusses Factors Weighed in Determining an Appropriate Sentence

Generally, when imposing sentences for crimes, the courts are bound by the sentencing guidelines. They may issue sentences at the high or low end of the guidelines, however, and in some instances, they can deviate from the guidelines. The courts will consider numerous factors in determining an appropriate sentence but have the discretion to assign greater weight to some factors than others, as demonstrated in a recent Florida case in which the court rejected the defendant’s assertion that his sentence for gun crimes was unreasonable in light of his personal characteristics. If you are charged with a weapons offense, you may face serious penalties, and it is advisable to confer with a Tampa gun crime defense attorney about your possible defenses.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant, who is a convicted felon, was arrested for possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon following a shooting at an apartment complex and a high-speed chase. The defendant pleaded guilty to the charge against him pursuant to a plea agreement in which the government agreed to recommend that the court impose a sentence at the low end of the guidelines range.

Reportedly, a United States probation officer prepared a presentence investigation report in which he offered recommendations for the defendant’s sentence. He made a series of increases based on the nature of the defendant’s offense and the defendant’s extensive criminal history; based on the total offense level and criminal history, the probation officer calculated the sentencing guidelines range to be 84 to 105 months in prison. The court sentenced the defendant to 96 months in prison, and he appealed.

Factors Weighed in Determining an Appropriate Sentence

On appeal, the defendant argued that the sentencing court was substantively unreasonable given his caregiving responsibilities, work history, and other characteristics. The court disagreed and affirmed his sentence. It explained that when reviewing a sentence to determine if it is reasonable, it employs an abuse of discretion standard.

It elaborated that a district court will abuse its discretion with regard to sentencing if it fails to grant consideration to pertinent factors that were due substantial weight, gives substantial weight to irrelevant or improper factors or makes a clear error of judgment when weighing the proper factors.

The courts do not have to weigh all factors equally but may grant one factor more considerable weight than another. In the subject case, the court found that the district court did not abuse its discretion in granting the defendant’s criminal history and the nature of his crimes more significant weight than his personal characteristics when determining an appropriate sentence. Thus, it affirmed the district court ruling.

Meet with an Experienced Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney

People convicted of gun crimes may be sentenced to years in prison, even if they do not cause bodily harm. If you are accused of a weapons offense, it is critical to talk to an attorney about what measures you can take to protect your rights. The experienced Tampa lawyers of Hanlon Law are proficient at defending people accused of firearm offenses, and if you hire us, we will fight tirelessly to help you seek a favorable result. You can reach Hanlon Law via the form online or at 813-228-7095 to set up a conference.