Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Criminal Punishment Code Scoresheet Explained

Prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges in Florida's circuit courts rely heavily on scoresheets in the vast majority of their sentencing hearings.  Scoresheets are required by law in most felony sentencings.  A properly filled out, accurate and complete sentencing scoresheet helps to ensure just sentencing and is an important safeguard against sentencing error in circuit court.
Copyright 2013 Thomson Reuters and William H. Burgess, III. Further reproduction is prohibited.

By Hon. William H. Burgess, III, B.C.S.

  The State of Florida has, for the past 30 years and through a succession of sentencing schemes involving the vast majority of criminal sentencings in circuit court, used printed scoresheets to collect and report sentencing data, to quantify sentencing factors, and to document sentences imposed. Since October 1, 1998, the State has used the Rule 3.992(a) Criminal Punishment Code Scoresheet and the Rule 3.992(b) Criminal Punishment Code Supplemental Scoresheet, illustrated below.  This post presents a comprehensive explanation of the proper completion and utilization of the Criminal Punishment Code sentencing scoresheet.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Length of Sentence for Juveniles Prosecuted As Adults in Florida

Given Monday’s United States Supreme Court ruling in Miller v. Alabama declaring minimum mandatory life sentences for defendants whose crimes were committed when they were less than 18 years of age unconstitutional, I thought that this would be a good time to summarize the law of sentence length for juveniles prosecuted as adults in Florida.

First of all, how do children get into the adult criminal system in Florida?

Simply put, children come into the adult system either by indictment, information, or waiver or juvenile jurisdiction.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Some Comparative Statistics on Florida Sentencing

Sentencing is the post-conviction phase of the criminal justice process in which the court imposes certain sanctions on the defendant. It is a critical step in the process and one that is both complex and susceptible to error.

Florida courts do a lot of sentencing. According to data kept by the Florida Supreme Court, in the period from January 1986 through June 2011 (the last month for which statistics have been published) the cases of 4,530,332 defendants involving 8,791,733 separate criminal counts were disposed of in the circuit courts of the state, the cases of 10,900,786 criminal defendants were disposed of in the county courts, and 10,962,695 criminal cases were disposed of in the traffic courts. In that time, there were 3,531,714 pleas before trial in the circuit courts and 6,779,757 pleas before trial in the county courts, while the cases of a total of 284,785 defendants were resolved upon conviction after trial in both courts.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Vacatur of Sentences Obtained by Fraud or Misrepresentation

Under the common law, any court of record had absolute control over its orders, decrees, etc., and could amend, vacate, modify or change them at any time during the term at which rendered. Control now is in the courts during the period allowed by the rules of court, terms (as used in common law) having been abandoned. This restriction does, however, not apply to such orders, judgments or decrees which are the product of fraud, collusion, deceit, mistake, etc. Such may be vacated, modified, opened or otherwise acted upon at any time. This is an inherent power of courts of record, and one essential to insure the true administration of justice and the orderly function of the judicial process. As between the parties any judgment or order procured from any court by the practice of fraud or deception may, in appropriate proceedings, be recalled and set aside at any time, whether entered in a civil case or a criminal case.1