|Florida's Criminal Punishment Code:|
A Comparative Assessment (FY 1999-2000)
Prior to October 1, 1983 courts sentenced in accordance with the provisions of law that permitted a wide range of judicial discretion in the sentencing decision. Sanctions ranged from a fine up to state prison incarceration. The statutory maximum penalties of incarceration in state prison were:
Each policy is represented on its respective scoresheet, which must be completed for each felony defendant prior to sentencing.
The 1983 guideline structure was comprised of nine separate worksheets for specified offense categories such as murder, sexual offenses, drug offenses etc. All offenses were contained in one of these categories.
Within each worksheet, points were assessed for offenses to be sentenced and prior record offenses based on the number of offenses and each offense's felony degree. Assessments were made for legal status and victim injury. Total scores fell into sentencing ranges or cells, for each worksheet. The least severe cell provided for a non-state prison sanction and the most severe cell provided for 27 years to life in prison. Departure sentences were permissible as long as written reasons were provided.
Several factors eventually eroded the integrity of the "truth in sentencing" aspect of the 1983 sentencing guidelines. Some of these factors included an epidemic of "crack" cocaine related offense activity, which resulted in an unanticipated impact upon correctional resources; the passage of unfunded mandatory minimum sentence legislation; and significant growth in the population of the State of Florida.
As a result of these and other factors, the percentage of time served and actual time served declined. By 1989, the average percent of time served was 34 percent. This lack of system integrity was the impetus for the creation of a new sentencing guideline structure.
The structure of the 1994 sentencing guidelines has little similarity to the 1983 structure. The structure created attempted to resolve some of the problems inherent in the preceding structure, such as the nine separate worksheets, the lack of offense specific detail and the issue of grouping crimes by category. The structure of the 1994 guidelines:
Under the 1994 structure, the total guidelines score determines the sanction and a range of length of sanction when state prison is applicable. There are basically three categories of sanction based upon total scores. There are ranges of score which:
The court has the discretion to increase or decrease the sanction by twenty five percent. This provided for a relatively narrow range for the imposition of a guideline sentence.
The Heggs ruling stated that the use of the 1995 Sentencing Guidelines for offenses between October 1, 1995 and May 24, 1997 is unconstitutional. However, the 1995 Sentencing Guidelines are used for offense dates between May 25, 1997 and September 30, 1998.
The guidelines were slightly modified in both 1996 and 1997, again providing for increased sanctions and sanction length in certain instances.
|Felony Degree||Years in Prison|
|Life Felony||Up to Life|
|1st||Up to 30|
|2nd||Up to 15|
|3rd||Up to 5|
This report is derived primarily from the information upon sentencing scoresheets received by the department from the clerks of the courts and entered into SAGES.
The following should be considered when evaluating this and other information derived from this database: