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Rick Scott, Governor
Florida Department of Corrections, Secretary Michael D. Crews

Florida Department of Corrections
Michael D. Crews, Secretary

Sentencing Guidelines 1995-96 Annual Report, Part II: Impact

Section 6. Departures from Recommended Sentences

GOAL: Departures from the recommended sentences established in the guidelines are articulated in writing and made only when circumstances or factors reasonably justify the aggravation or mitigation of the sentence. F.S. 921.001(4)(a)6.

FACT: Of the 96,131 scoresheets received with sentence dates in FY 1995-96, the courts deviated from the guidelines structure in 11.8% of the cases (10,353 mitigated and 980 aggravated, 11,323 total deviations).

NOTES: An offender's score determines from which of three categories he will be sentenced.

  • Category 1 - Offenders scoring less than 34.8 total points fall in the non-state prison category. In this category, a prison sanction is not permitted within the guidelines structure.
  • Category 2 - Offenders scoring between 34.8 and 52.0 total points fall in the discretionary range. As the name implies, the courts have flexibility in administering either a prison or a non-prison sanction without the requirement of a reason for their decision.
  • Category 3 - In this category, offenders who score more than 52.0 total points are mandated by the guidelines to receive a state prison sanction.

However, the courts may depart from the guidelines structure if a written reason justifying the departure is provided (see sample of scoresheet with attached departure list in the Appendix). A deviation may occur in the non-state prison category (aggravation) or the state prison category (mitigation). Departure information may be recorded on the scoresheet or may be filed in writing in some other manner within 7 days of sentencing.

A true mitigation occurs when an offender scores more than 52.0 total points and either receives a non-state prison sanction or a state prison sentence length less than the 25% permissible downward discretion existing within the guidelines. A sanction mitigation occurs when an offender scores more than 52.0 total points, but receives a non-state prison sanction.

FINDINGS:

  • The true mitigation rate for those offenders who scored more than 52.0 total points was 56.5%. The sanction mitigation rate (those cases that scored to state prison but received a non-state prison sanction) was 41.4% (Table 1).
  • For the 2,767 offenders who received a mitigated state prison sentence length, the average reduction in sentence was 18.7 months (Table 1).
  • Lewd/Lascivious Behavior and Other Violent offense types had the highest true mitigation rates (66.8% and 67.5%, respectively) (Table 2).
  • The aggravation rate for those offenders who scored in the non-state prison category was 1.9% (Table 5).
  • Property Theft/Fraud/Damage offenses represented almost 50% of the aggravated cases in FY 1995-96 (415 out of 983 cases - Table 6).
  • Over 28% of the true mitigated cases had reasons for departure listed (Table 8). Of the cases with reasons listed, the most prevalent reason was "legitimate, uncoerced plea bargain" (65.5%). An additional 12.7% listed mental health or substance abuse treatment needed as the reason.
  • Of the 980 aggravated sentences, 256 or 26.1% had a reason for departure listed (Table 9). Once again, the most prevalent reason provided was "legitimate, uncoerced plea bargain," listed almost 85% of the time.

List of Tables and Figures for Part II, Section 3

Table 1 - Mitigation Rates Among Offenders Scoring in Recommended State Prison Sanction Category
Figure 1 - Mitigation Rates Among Offenders Scoring in Recommended State Prison Sanction Category
Figure 2 - Mitigation Rates by Offense Type Among Offenders Scoring in Recommended State Prison Sanction Category
Table 2 - Mitigation Rates Among Offenders Scoring in Recommended State Prison Sanction Category
Table 3 - Mitigated Sanction and Sentence Length Rates by Judicial Circuit
Table 4 - Mitigated Sanction Rates by Judicial Circuit
Table 5 - Aggravation Rates Among Offenders Scoring in Recommended Non-State Prison Sanction Category
Figure 3 - Aggravation Rates Among Offenders Scoring in Recommended Non-State Prison Sanction Category
Table 6 - Aggravation Rates by Offense Type Among Offenders Scoring in Recommended Non-State Prison Sanction Category
Figure 4 - Aggravation Rates by Offense Type Among Offenders Scoring in Recommended Non-State Prison Sanction Category
Table 7 - Aggravation Rates by Judicial Circuit
Table 8 - Reason for Departure Among Mitigated Cases by Judicial Circuit
Table 9 - Reason for Departure Among Aggravated Cases by Judicial Circuit
Section 7: Primary Purpose of Sentencing is Punishment | Part II Menu