Florida's Criminal Punishment Code:
A Comparative Assessment (FY 2011-2012)
In 1997, the Florida Legislature created a new sentencing structure, the Florida Criminal Punishment Code (“Code”). The Code is Florida’s primary sentencing policy. It is unique in that it has features of both structured and unstructured sentencing policies.
From a structured sentencing perspective, the Code provides for a uniform evaluation of relevant factors present at sentencing, such as the offense before the court for sentencing, prior criminal record, victim injury, and others. It also provides for the lowest permissible sentence that the court must impose in any given sentencing event, absent a valid reason for departure.
The Code also contains some characteristics of unstructured sentencing, such as broad judicial discretion and the allowance for the imposition of lengthy terms of incarceration.
The Code is effective for offenses committed on or after October 1, 1998 and is unlike the state’s preceding sentencing guidelines, which provided for narrow ranges of permissible sentences in all non-capital sentencing events.
The intent of this report is to address the requirement set forth in Florida Statute 921.002(4)(a) to analyze sentencing events under the Florida Criminal Punishment Code. Each year, the Department of Corrections is required to report on trends in sentencing practices and sentencing score thresholds, and provide an analysis of the sentencing factors considered by the courts. In this report, a comparison is made between the Criminal Punishment Code sentences received in FY 2010-2011 and FY 2011-2012.Since January 1, 1994, the Florida Department of Corrections has collected over 2.1 million scoresheets on felony offenders sentenced in Florida courts under the state’s Sentencing Guidelines and Criminal Punishment Code. This report describes the 104,368 Criminal Punishment Code scoresheets with sentence dates in FY 2011-2012 received by the Florida Department of Corrections through September 1, 2012, for felony offenses committed on or after October 1, 1998. It also compares 72,594 Criminal Punishment Code scoresheets received by the Florida Department of Corrections through September 1, 2012, for felony offenses committed on or after October 1, 2010 and sentence dates in Fiscal Year 2011-2012 with 75,257 Criminal Punishment Code scoresheets with offense dates on or after October 1, 2009 and sentence dates in Fiscal Year 2010-2011.