Tallahassee Illegal Sentencing Attorney
Every criminal offense in Florida carries certain minimum and maximum statutory penalties. The sentencing judge has broad discretion to determine a sentence within those parameters, taking into account a variety of factors, such as a defendant’s prior criminal history, the nature of the present crime, and even whether or not the defendant is employed. In felony cases, prosecutors are also required to prepare a sentencing “score sheet” that assigns numerical values to a wide range of factors. This final result of this score sheet can mean the difference between prison and probation.
But as with any human activity, sentencing is not perfect. Indeed, there are often cases where a judge imposes a sentence that is simply not permitted under Florida law. Fortunately, the law provides a remedy for defendants to challenge such illegal sentences. And the Tallahassee illegal sentencing attorneys at Luke Newman, P.A., are here to help.
What Makes a Sentence Illegal?
Under the rules governing Florida criminal procedure, a court has the authority to “at any time correct an illegal sentence.” This includes while an appeal is pending before a higher court. Some of the more common grounds for correcting an illegal sentence include:
- The trial court imposed a prison term that was greater than the statutory maximum specified for a particular criminal offense.
- The trial court failed to credit the defendant with any time served in jail while awaiting trial.
- The prosecution submitted an incorrect score sheet that the trial court ultimately relied upon in imposing a sentence.
- The trial court incorrectly applied certain “enhancements” that resulted in a harsher sentence than is permitted by law. For example, some crimes are subject to a higher mandatory minimum sentence if they involve the use of a firearm.
It is important to understand that when a trial or appellate court sets aside an illegal sentence, that does not mean the defendant is free to go. An illegal sentence does not affect the legality of the underlying conviction. But the defendant is entitled to a new sentencing hearing that follows the proper laws and guidelines.
Contact Tallahassee Criminal Defense Attorney Luke Newman Today
While the rules permit a sentencing judge to correct an illegal sentence on their own initiative, it is often left to the defendant to bring the problem to the court’s attention. Ideally, a well-represented defendant will bring any potential issues to the judge before an illegal sentence is imposed. However, if through error or mistake the court still manages to exceed its constitutional or legal authority, it is imperative for the defendant to take immediate action rather than wait for the court to act.
At Luke Newman, P.A., we represent criminal defendants throughout the Tallahassee region whose criminal sentences contain clear mistakes or errors of law. Nobody should be forced to serve an illegal or improper sentence. We can help make sure that does not happen in your case. So if you are involved in a criminal matter, please contact us today to schedule a consultation.