States in the U.S. use a wide variety of different methods to determine how to fairly and appropriately sentence individuals convicted of criminal violations.
Florida uses the Criminal Punishment Code (CPC) scoring system as its primary sentencing policy. Florida’s criminal point system applies to all felony offenses, except capital offenses.
If someone is facing felony charges in Florida, the criminal scoresheet will likely apply to sentencing considerations in their case, including how long a prison term they may serve.
Florida’s Criminal Point System
The Florida Criminal Punishment Code worksheet assigns felony offenses a level between 1 and 10, with Level 1 offenses being minor felonies and Level 10 being assigned to the most severe crimes. Each offense level carries a point value.
The values assigned to each level by Florida’s felony point system are listed below:
- Level 10 Felonies: 116 points
- Level 9 Felonies: 92 points
- Level 8 Felonies: 74 points
- Level 7 Felonies: 56 points
- Level 6 Felonies: 36 points
- Level 5 Felonies: 28 points
- Level 4 Felonies: 22 points
- Level 3 Felonies: 16 points
- Level 2 Felonies: 10 points
- Level 1 Felonies: 4 points
The most serious of the charges in a given case, known as the primary offense, receives a point value based on its level as noted above.
If more than one charge is being sentenced, the other offenses (including misdemeanors) are considered “additional offenses”. Any additional offenses receive fractionalized points depending on their level. For example, a Level 7 felony would score 56 points as a primary offense, but only 28 points as an additional offense.
Criminal history is also considered in the scoresheet calculations. Prior criminal convictions (both felony and misdemeanor) are included in any defendant’s scoresheet and receive an assigned point value based on the level of the offense.
But primary offenses, additional offenses, and criminal history are not the only factors given consideration on a Florida sentencing guidelines scoresheet.
The Criminal Punishment Code also assesses additional points when certain factors exist, including:
- Injury to the victim (including sexual contact or penetration)
- Death of a victim;
- Grand theft of a motor vehicle;
- Whether a defendant was on community control or probation;
- Drug trafficking;
- Domestic violence in the presence of a child under 16; and
- Gang-related activity.
The total points accumulated on the worksheet determine the presumptive prison sentence. This is typically referred to by lawyers and judges as the “bottom of the guidelines”.
Individuals who accumulate less than 22 points typically do not receive a prison sentence unless the judge determines that he or she is a danger to the community.
For individuals who accumulate more than 22 but less than 44 points, the judge has discretion as to whether a prison sentence is appropriate, or whether some other non-prison sanction should apply.
That could include county jail, community control (also known as house arrest), or probation. Finally, for individuals who accumulate over 44 points, the bottom of the guidelines (and the presumptive sentence) is state prison.
To determine the total points for individual scores, calculate the total points, then subtract 28 from the total, and multiply that result by .75. The number arrived at after those calculations is the presumed length of a prison sentence for any particular case.
However, a judge is not forced to stand by that number. If an individual scores more than 44 points, a judge can always go above that number and hand down the maximum allowable sentence for any case.
Depending on the facts of the case, the judge may also be able to go below that number and give an individual a shorter prison sentence than that recommended by the scoresheet, or possibly no prison at all. This fairly uncommon practice is known as a “downward departure”.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer to Help You Understand the Florida Criminal Point System
Trying to interpret the Florida felony point system or develop arguments in favor of a downward departure can cause lots of confusion, especially for someone without experience dealing with the criminal justice system.
At Orlando Defense, we have handled thousands of felony cases and are here to help you every step of the way. If you were charged with a felony offense in Florida, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible.
Depending on your charges, you could face severe penalties if convicted. As a former public defender, Attorney Jeffery Higgins possesses extensive experience representing defendants facing all levels of felony charges.
He has the knowledge necessary to explain the Florida sentencing guidelines scoresheet and help you understand what that means for your case. Call our office today to start your free consultation.