“Can I Get My Time Reduced?” is Often Asked of Criminal Defense Lawyers
West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney Andrew Stine answers the question for his clients with an eye to a bridge to a better life.
As a criminal defense lawyer, I am often asked questions by my clients, about getting their “time” reduced if they take responsibility for their actions. The conversation many times comes up after the accused is confronted with evidence that shows they likely committed the crime but not always. Believe it or not, many times those accused of criminal offenses are sorrowful for their actions and want to make amends for their wicked ways with the coercion of inculpatory evidence. When these heart to heart conversations take place between a criminal defense attorney and the accused a path to hopefully a better life is being bridged. In Florida, the legislatures set forth Florida Statute section 921.0026 which spells out the specifics of why, when and how a court may depart from the sentencing guidelines.
While Fla. Stat. sec. 921.0026 lays out the black letter law about departure sentences, the Florida Supreme Court has handed down a two prong test that the trial courts must follow: “In order to determine whether a downward departure sentence is appropriate, the trial court must follow a two-step process. Banks v. State, 732 So.2d 1065, 1067 (Fla.1999); State v. Henderson, 108 So.3d 1137, 1140 (Fla. 5th DCA 2013). The first step requires the court to determine whether it can depart, i.e., whether there is a valid legal ground and adequate factual support for that ground in the case pending before it. Id. Second, where the step 1 requirements are met, the trial court further must determine whether it should depart, i.e., whether departure is indeed the best sentencing option for the defendant in the pending case. See Fla. Stat. § 921.0016(2).
As a practicing criminal defense lawyer, I understand that the trial court when making its departure determination, must weigh the totality of the circumstances in the case, including any aggravating and mitigating factors. Moreover, I also understand that the second aspect of the decision to provide a departure sentence is a judgment call within the sound discretion of the trial court and will be sustained on Appellate review, absent an abuse of discretion. Further, trial discretion is abused only where no reasonable person would agree with the trial court’s decision. Therefore, once a trial court grants a downward sentence departure, an appellate court does not have the power under the statutory scheme to review the extent of the downward departure. The sentence will stand!
So, when a criminal defendant has a frank conversation with his or her criminal defense lawyer about “what will my sentence be” or “can I get my sentence reduced” Fla. Stat. § 921.0016(2) better be part of the conversation as it is in my office. Fully and intelligently advising a client, who is throwing their mercy at the will of the court cannot properly and legally be accomplished, if the criminal defense attorney does not discuss with his or her client the applicable Florida statutes, case laws and factors that go into a “departure sentence.”
If you or a loved one has been arrested for a crime in West Palm Beach, FL it behooves you to contact criminal lawyer Andrew D. Stine at 561 880 4300. Criminal defense attorney Andrew D. Stine has been fighting for his clients at the trial court level and appellate court level since 2003. Hire Stine or Do the Time!