Saturday, September 6, 2008

Alternative Sentencing: Youthful Offender Downward Departures

A “youthful offender” (YO) is any person who is sentenced as such by the court or is classified as such by the Department of Corrections pursuant to section 958.04.[FN1] There are two ways by which a defendant can become entitled to the benefits of the YO statute. Either the trial court can sentence the defendant as a YO, or the Department of Corrections can designate a defendant who was sentenced as an adult to be a YO.[FN2]


Pursuant to section 958.04, F.S., the court may sentence as a YO any person:

(a) Who is at least 18 years of age or who has been transferred for prosecution to the criminal division of the circuit court pursuant to chapter 985;

(b) Who is found guilty of or who has tendered, and the court has accepted, a plea of nolo contendere or guilty to a crime that is, under the laws of this state, a felony if the offender is younger than 21 years of age at the time sentence is imposed; and

(c) Who has not previously been classified as a youthful offender under the provisions of chapter 985; however, a person who has been found guilty of a capital or life felony may not be sentenced as a YO under the Youthful Offender Act.