Florida Court Rejects Challenge to Victim Injury Points on a Sentencing Scoresheet

If a defendant is convicted of a felony charge, the court will employ a sentencing scoresheet to determine what it believes to be an appropriate sentence. If a scoresheet includes points which should not be attributed to the defendant, it can result in an inappropriately high sentence. The points assessed against a defendant will not be disturbed, however, unless it is shown the court’s award of the points constituted an abuse of discretion.

For example, a district appellate court of Florida recently rejected a defendant’s argument that his sentencing scoresheet improperly included points for victim injury, finding the evidence of record clearly indicated the victims were injured. If you live in Tampa and are facing criminal charges, it is important to retain an experienced Tampa criminal defense attorney who will fight diligently to help you in your pursuit of a successful outcome under the circumstances.

Facts Regarding the Alleged Crimes

Reportedly, the defendant entered a bank and forced multiple tellers to go into the bank’s vault at gunpoint. He hit each of the tellers over the head and sexually assaulted one of the tellers. When he was fleeing the scene, he fired his gun at approaching officers. He was detained and charged with several counts, including attempted murder, aggravated battery with a firearm, sexual battery, kidnapping with a firearm and aggravated assault with a firearm.

The defendant plead guilty to all charges, and following the plea hearing filed a motion for a downward departure sentence. He argued that the robbery was an isolated incident for which he showed remorse. The State objected to any downward departure sentence. None of the victims testified at the sentencing hearing. The court rejected the defendant’s request to downwardly depart his sentence. The sentencing scoresheet indicated  1132.80 sentencing points, with the lowest sentence being 828 months in prison. He was sentenced to 827 months, after which he appealed.

Slight Victim Injury

On appeal, the defendant argued the scoresheet was improper because it included points for slight victim injury for all of the tellers when there was only evidence that two suffered any physical injury. Upon review, the court stated that a court imposes a score for victim injury where a person suffers a physical injury due to the offense for which the defendant is being sentenced. Points are assessed for each person injured and for each offense that resulted in an injury.

Here, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that there was not sufficient evidence to show that each victim was injured. The court stated that the evidence showed that the defendant struck each victim with a gun, and later transported to a hospital for evaluation and treatment. Thus, the court found the lower court was within its discretion in indicating injuries for each victim on the scoresheet. Further, the court found that the trial court did not err in assessing points for injuries to the victims without submitting the issue to the jury, finding such submission is only necessary in cases where the score sheet increases the mandatory minimum sentence. In the subject case, the victim points were factored into determining the lowest sentence permitted and did not affect any mandatory minimum sentence. Based on the foregoing, the court affirmed the defendant’s sentence.

Set Up a Consultation with a Skilled Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If you are a Tampa resident and are currently charged with a crime, you should set up a consultation with a skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss the facts of your case and analyze what defenses you can argue for the charges you face. Attorney William Hanlon of Hanlon Law dedicates his practice to defending individuals charged with a crime and has the skills and experience needed to assist you in your case. He can be reached at 813-228-7095 or through the online form to set up a consultation.

More Blog Posts:
Appeals Court Upholds Reduction of Sentence for Florida Defendant, October 15, 2018, Tampa Criminal Lawyer Blog

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