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Rick Scott, Governor
Florida Department of Corrections, Secretary Julie L. Jones

Florida Department of Corrections
Julie L. Jones, Secretary

The Current Sentencing Guidelines

The 1995 Sentencing Guidelines

The 1994 sentencing guidelines were significantly amended in 1995 through the passage of the Crime Control Act of 1995. The basic structure and intent of the 1994 sentencing guidelines remained intact, however point values were increased in a variety of areas and additional policy levers were created to provide for greater sanctions. Generally, increases in point values loosely equal an increase of approximately 1 month of prison sanction for each point increased. The 1995 version of the sentencing guidelines are effective for all offenses committed on or after October 1, 1995. The significant changes included the following:

  • The point value for level 7 primary offenses increased from 42 to 56 points. This was significant, as 42 points results in a discretionary state prison or non-state prison sanction, whereas 56 points mandates a prison sanction under the guidelines. Examples of frequently committed level 7 offenses include burglary of a dwelling, lewd and lascivious act upon a child under the age of 16, and aggravated battery.
  • The point value for victim injury points for second degree murder doubled from 120 to 240. Sexual penetration victim injury points doubled from 40 to 80 and sexual contact points increased from 18 to 40 points.
  • Additional and prior record point values for offenses in severity levels 6 through 10 were increased significantly.
  • Point values for violations of court-ordered supervision programs were enhanced.
  • A mechanism was created to increase the sanction for offenders who commit serious offenses and have a recent history of serious felony behavior. A 30 point enhancement was created to provide additional punishment for those offenders who are convicted of level 8, 9, or 10 offenses and who have in their recent prior record a level 8, 9, or 10 offense.
  • A mechanism was created to significantly increase the sanction for repeated convictions of Grand Theft Auto.

There were slight modifications to the guidelines in 1996, including a provision for increased sanction for crimes committed by street gang members.

The Department of Corrections' Responsibilities

The department was provided a variety of responsibilities regarding the 1994 and subsequent versions of the sentencing guidelines law. Florida Statute 921 requires the department to:

  • Develop the scoresheet and any revisions of the scoresheet for approval by the Supreme Court and supply sentencing guideline scoresheets to clerks of the court statewide.
  • Prepare scoresheets. This agency currently has co-equal responsibility of scoresheet preparation with state attorneys. The department is the primary scoresheet preparer in 10 of the 20 judicial circuits, though we are not the primary preparer in any of the 4 largest circuits. The department prepares 25% of the scoresheets statewide. Pursuant to present statutory language, effective October 1, 1997 the department will have the sole responsibility for scoresheet preparation.
  • Collect and evaluate data on sentencing practices in the state for the purpose of assisting the commission in recommending modifications to the guidelines.
  • Provide the commission by October 1 of each year a report detailing the rate of compliance of each judicial circuit in providing scoresheets to the department.
  • Assist the sentencing commission in estimating rates of incarceration and make funding recommendations to the legislature.

The SAGES (Sentencing Analysis and Guidelines Entry Systems) database

The department developed an automated system in 1994 to be used as a mechanism to:

  • Store sentencing guidelines scoresheets received from the clerks of the courts after sentencing statewide, and
  • Provide for more accurate, legible, and time-efficient scoresheet preparation.

This report is derived primarily from the information included on sentencing scoresheets received by the department from the clerks of the courts and entered into SAGES with sentence dates in fiscal year 1995-96.

The following should be considered when evaluating this and other information derived from this database:

  • The information is compiled from a database containing sentencing guidelines scoresheets received by the Department of Corrections for offenses with dates of commission on or after January 1, 1994. This report is based upon the scoresheets in the database with dates of sentence in fiscal year 1995-96, as of December 31, 1996.
  • As the compliance rate for scoresheet submissions is not 100%, there is missing information that could potentially affect the outcome of the analysis. The current statewide compliance rate is 92.1%.
  • Though the department retrieves and includes in the guidelines database information omitted from the scoresheet that is critical, no effort is made to correct preparation error or errors recorded on scoresheets regarding the sentence imposed. The department does not have the authority to amend an official court document. Additionally, there is a responsibility to record the information as received.
  • There is data entry error on the part of department staff. Recent analyses indicate that the rate of data entry error in the fields analyzed in this report is not significant.
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