What Happens At A Sentencing Hearing In A Florida Criminal Case?
In some Florida criminal cases, the court will not immediately sentence the defendant after entry of a guilty or no contest plea, a jury’s verdict of guilt, or a judge’s finding of guilt at a bench trial. Though not as common for misdemeanors, a separate proceeding is held after many felony convictions since the harsher sanctions will have such a profound effect on the individual’s life and freedoms. The Florida statute on sentencing describes the hearing process, requirements, opportunities for the defendant to present information, participation by victims, and many other aspects of the proceeding.
You might think that there is little you can do to protect your interests after being convicted, but the sentencing hearing is a very important part of a criminal case. It is still every bit as important to have a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer on your side, and answers to the following questions will convince you why.
How does sentencing work in Florida? After a felony conviction or other type of guilty finding, the court will set a date further down the road to address sentencing. This is because a judge must review considerations beyond the defined penalties that may be included in the relevant statute; these are typically the presumptive or default sentence. By law, a judge may also need to account for:
- The person’s general criminal history;
- A defendant’s prior record related to the same or similar crimes;
- Sentencing enhancements for habitual offenders;
- Aggravating or mitigating circumstances.
What happens at the sentencing hearing? Based upon the above factors that impact punishment, you can see that evidence is critical. The prosecution will seek to present evidence and witnesses to support its position that you should receive jail time, fines, and/or other penalties. Your defense attorney will also call witnesses and present evidence that advances your position.
How do other factors impact sentencing in Florida? In some cases, you might take advantage of mitigating circumstances that you must prove to justify sanctions on the lower end of the punishment scale. For instance, you might benefit from presenting evidence that you cooperated with police or showed extreme remorse for an isolated instance of poor judgment. However, aggravating circumstances showing how you made the crime worse can have the opposite impact – potentially leading to a punishment that approaches the maximum sentence.
What should I expect at a Florida sentencing hearing? The proceeding is very similar to what you went through at trial, and the judge will issue a decision on your punishment at the conclusion of the hearing. Some aspects of the proceeding are subject to appeal to correct errors.
A South Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Answer Additional Questions
This information about sentencing hearings in Florida is useful, but you probably have many other questions about your specific case. Whether you are awaiting trial or have already been convicted and will face sentencing soon, having experienced representation increases the potential for a favorable outcome. To learn more, please contact attorney Kevin J. Kulik to set up a consultation at our offices in Fort Lauderdale, FL.