Types of Sentencing in Florida Criminal Cases
After a defendant is convicted or pleads guilty in a criminal case, the matter proceeds to the sentencing phase so the judge can determine the appropriate punishment for the crime. This part of the process may take place immediately after a conviction, or the court may set a future date to conduct a hearing on the issue. Either way, the judge will apply Florida statutes on criminal procedure and corrections, which describe numerous different types of sentencing. The categories go beyond a simple distinction between misdemeanors and felonies, though punishment does take into account the offense, past criminal history, and many other factors.
If you are facing criminal charges, it is important to retain a Florida criminal defense attorney well before the sentencing phase of your case. Still, you should understand some of the basic terminology about the different types of sentencing.
Concurrent and Consecutive Sentencing: These two distinct types of punishment refer to how a criminal defendant will serve time. Concurrent periods of incarceration run at the same time as another sentence that was imposed for the same proceeding. If you were sentenced to two concurrent sentences of 10 years each for two different crimes, you may be released after 10 years. Consecutive punishment is when the imprisonment terms are tacked onto one another. Two consecutive sentences of 10 years each means 20 years in prison.
Deferred Sentence: If your case is resolved through probation, the arrangement defers your sentencing to another time. Once you complete the terms of probation, the charges are dropped and you will not be subject to further punishment. However, if you do violate your probation conditions, you will be punished. Your sentence has merely been postponed, not eliminated during the period of probation.
Fixed or Determinate Sentence: As the term suggests, your punishment is for a specific period of time and/or a set fine that is defined by statute. An indeterminate sentence would be one that might be described with such language as:
- Not more than;
- Up to;
- A maximum of.
Judges have discretion in issuing a sentence as long as it complies with the terminology indicated in the relevant law.
Mandatory Minimum Sentencing: This type is a subset of a fixed or determinate sentence. There are several criminal offenses in Florida that require the court to issue a mandatory minimum punishment, including drug offenses, sex crimes, and many others. The judge does not have discretion and cannot sentence a convicted person to less time in prison. It may be possible to reduce the punishment through a downward departure, in which you could present evidence regarding mitigating circumstances.
Contact a Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer for More Information
This overview provides some basics about the different types of sentencing, but there are many other factors involved with determining punishment. To ensure the best possible outcome, it is essential to hire skilled legal counsel at the earliest stages of your case. For more information, please contact Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney Kevin J. Kulik to schedule a confidential consultation at our office.