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The Art of Sentencing in Florida

As a practicing criminal defense attorney, clients contact me on a regular basis to discuss the possible outcome of their criminal case. More often than not, during conversations with the client, they will inevitable ask whether they should plead guilty or go to trial? The client always has the right in deciding whether to plead guilty or proceed to trial. But this decision by the client as to whether or not to proceed to trial must be made after full advice given by their criminal defense lawyer, as to all the possible circumstances, laws and knowledge of the judge’s sentencing propensities.

Does this judge sentence within or outside the guidelines is a very important matter to discuss? What type of criminal sanctions may this judge impose on the criminal defendant are other considerations that must be weighted. A recent criminal case out of Florida, U.S v. Brown, — F.3d —-, 2014 WL 6655742 (C.A.11 (Fla.) exemplifies why the art of sentencing is known to very few criminal defense lawyers.

Brown is a simple criminal case where a criminal defendant pleads guilty in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, to three counts of possession of child pornography and five counts of receipt of child pornography. The issue in Brown appeared at sentencing when the Judge sentenced Brown to a 240-month prison term, which was grossly outside the sentencing guide range of 78-97 months in prison. On Appeal, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the trial courts sentence outside the guideline range. The appellate court reasoned that the upward departure was below the statutory maximum of 30 years, and the upward variance was justified by the seriousness of the crimes, the defendant’s long history of obsession with young boys, including his expressed desire during online chats to molest, kill, and cannibalize children, and the need to protect the public, and the sentencing judge adequately explained his reasons for the variance. See 18 U. S. C. Sec. 2252 (a) (2), (b) (1) and 3553 (a).

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals went to hold that, a trial judge abuses its discretion at sentencing when:  (1) it fails to afford consideration to relevant statutory sentencing factors that merited significant weight; (2) it gives significant weight to an improper or irrelevant factor or (3) it commits a clear error of judgment. See 18 U. S. C.  Sec. 3553 (a). Additionally, the appellate court also reasoned that the trial judge may give more weight or less weight to any applicable factor set out in the sentencing code. The judge must clearly articulate on the record, why he or she is imposing a sentence outside of the guidelines and the judge can give more weight to any one factor like: the seriousness of the crime verses the lack of sophistication in committing the crime, when imposing sentence.

The Brown case is a very good illustration as to why hiring the best criminal defense lawyer is in the best interest of those accused of a crime. Attorney Andrew D. Stine has represented thousands of criminal clients over the past decade from Key West, Florida to Boston, Massachusetts. West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer Andrew D. Stine has experience in thousands of cases ranging in complex like Homicide and Drug Trafficking to as simple as DUI. If you or a loved one has been arrested for a crime contact  Andrew D. Stine so the decisions you make do not lead you down the wrong path. Hire Stine or Do the Time.

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