Different states throughout the country use different methods to calculate the sentences for people convicted in criminal court.
In cases involving felony offenses, Florida uses the Criminal Punishment Code (CPC) as its sentencing guidelines.
The sentencing guidelines help determine whether an individual should be sent to prison and if so, the appropriate amount of time.
This determination is made based on the crime being charged and other factors. If you receive a felony conviction in Florida, the Criminal Punishment Code worksheet will likely determine your prison sentence.
A qualified criminal defense attorney can help you figure out what that means based on your underlying conviction and other circumstances that affect your sentence.
Contact Orlando Defense today to speak to a member of our stellar criminal defense team.
How Do Florida’s Sentencing Guidelines Work?
Florida assigns most felony offenses an offense level, in addition to a degree. The sentencing guidelines use the offense level to determine the overall point value. The degree of the crime charged determines the maximum possible sentence.
Primary Offense and Additional Offenses
First, your most serious charge—known as your “primary offense”—receives a point level based on its criminal offense level. The values for the Florida sentencing guidelines offense levels include:
- Level 10 Felony: 116 points
- Level 9 Felony: 92 points
- Level 8 Felony: 74 points
- Level 7 Felony: 56 points
- Level 6 Felony: 36 points
- Level 5 Felony: 28 points
- Level 4 Felony: 22 points
- Level 3 Felony: 16 points
- Level 2 Felony: 10 points
- Level 1 Felony: 4 points
If you are convicted of more than one criminal charge, your additional charges receive only a portion of the points they would have received if they were the primary offense.
For example, a Level 8 felony would receive 74 points as a primary offense but only 37 points as an additional offense. Likewise, a Level 3 felony receives 16 points as a primary offense but only 2.4 points as an additional offense.
Prior Criminal Record
Florida’s sentencing guidelines also consider the criminal history of the defendant. Both misdemeanor and felony prior convictions receive an assigned point value based on the offense level of the crime. The values for prior convictions are listed below:
- Level 10 Felony: 29 points
- Level 9 Felony: 23 points
- Level 8 Felony: 19 points
- Level 7 Felony: 14 points
- Level 6 Felony: 9 points
- Level 5 Felony: 3.6 points
- Level 4 Felony: 2.4 points
- Level 3 Felony: 1.6 points
- Level 2 Felony: 0.8 points
- Level 1 Felony: 0.5 points
- Misdemeanor: 0.2 points
As you can see, your previous criminal convictions do not receive point values as high as your current charges. Still, serious prior convictions can greatly impact your prison sentence.
The Florida sentencing guidelines assess additional points against the defendant when the victim suffers injury during the commission of the crime. The point values are provided below:
- Death of the victim: 120 points
- Severe injury: 40 points
- Moderate injury: 18 points
- Slight injury: 4 points
- Sexual penetration: 80 points
- Sexual contact: 40 points
For each victim who suffered injuries during the commission of the crime, the point value multiplies.
Additionally, the court will assess community sanction violation points if you violated probation, community control, or a pre-trial diversion program.
Florida’s sentencing guidelines impose sentence enhancements for certain misconduct that multiply your sentence subtotal. The potential enhancements include:
- Drug trafficking;
- Criminal gang activity;
- Domestic violence; and
- Kidnapping or false imprisonment of a child.
Remember, the enhancement multipliers apply to your sentence subtotal, not just the total point value of your primary offense.
What Your Point Totals Mean for Your Sentence
Individuals with less than 22 total points typically are not sentenced to prison. In those situations, if you score less than 22 points, you will receive a non-prison sentence instead. A non-prison sentence could include:
- Community control (also known as house arrest); or
- A county jail sentence.
For individuals with more than 22 points but less than 44 points, the judge has full discretion to sentence that person to prison, or to something lesser, like county jail, probation, or community control.
Even if a person only scores between 22 and 44 points, if the judge determines that prison is appropriate, they can still hand down the maximum sentence based on the degree of the offense.
When your point total exceeds 44 points, the bottom of the guidelines prison sentence is reached by subtracting 28 from your total score. Then, you multiply that total by 0.75 to find the minimum guideline prison sentence in months.
In limited circumstances, the judge can elect to go below the mandatory minimum sentence. This is known as a “downward departure.” Reasons that could justify a downward departure include:
- The defendant entered a legitimate, uncoerced plea bargain;
- The defendant was an accomplice to the offense and was a relatively minor participant in the conduct;
- A mental disorder requirement for treatment exists, and the defendant agrees to such treatment;
- The misconduct was an isolated incident, and the defendant shows remorse;
- The need for payment of restitution outweighs the need for a prison sentence;
- The defendant acted under extreme duress or under the domination of another person;
- The defendant was too young to appreciate the consequences of the offense; or
- The victim was an initiator, willing participant, aggressor, or provoker of the incident.
The judge’s decision to implement a downward departure is subject to appellate review. Even though there are numerous reasons to justify departing from the presumptive sentence, it can be difficult to secure a downward departure.
This is where a qualified Orlando criminal defense attorney can be extremely helpful and can try to help the judge and prosecutor understand why a downward departure should be considered.
However, even in those cases, a downward departure is never guaranteed and many judges prefer to stick to the presumptive sentence.
Florida Sentencing Guidelines Chart
Florida’s sentencing guidelines include an offense severity ranking chart that assigns criminal offenses at an offense level. The severity ranking chart is contained in Florida Statutes Section 921.0022.
|Offense Level||Primary Offense Score||Additional Offense Score||Prior Conviction Score|
In addition to a potential prison sentence, Florida can impose monetary fines for criminal violations.
|Level of Felony||Potential Fine|
|First-Degree Felony||Up to $10,000|
|Second-Degree Felony||Up to $10,000|
|Third-Degree Felony||Up to $5,000|
|First-Degree Misdemeanor||Up to $1,000|
|Second-Degree Misdemeanor||Up to $500|
If you find this Florida sentencing guidelines chart confusing, you are not alone. Reach out to our team of criminal defense attorneys at Orlando Defense for assistance in calculating your potential sentence.
Need Help Applying the Florida Sentencing Guidelines to Your Case? Contact Orlando Defense Today.
Calculating your potential prison sentence using the Florida sentencing guidelines is a complex process. It can create confusion, even for attorneys with years of experience.
With decades of experience as a criminal defense attorney, Attorney Jeffrey Higgins has the knowledge necessary to explain Florida’s sentencing guidelines and help you apply them to your case. In some cases, the judge has the discretion to elect a downward departure.
If so, you must put your best foot forward while you have the chance. Your very best chance at convincing the judge that the mitigating factors outlined by statute apply in your case and justify a downward departure is to have a seasoned criminal defense lawyer argue your case at sentencing.