In some instances in which a defendant is charged with a sex crime, the State’s evidence is compelling, and it is prudent for the defendant to enter a plea of nolo contendere to avoid receiving the maximum penalties permitted. Even if a defendant does not defend against criminal charges, however, any sentence issued must nonetheless be within the statutory limitations, and if they are not, may be vacated as illegal sentences, as discussed in a recent Florida case. If you are charged with a sex crime, it is advisable to contact an experienced Sarasota sex crime defense attorney regarding your options and potential penalties.
Factual and Procedural History of the Case
It is alleged that the defendant was charged with attempted sexual battery and attempted lascivious or lewd molestation, both of which were allegedly committed against a person less than twelve years old. The defendant entered a plea of nolo contendere, after which the court imposed concurrent sentences of twenty years imprisonment, followed by probation for life. The defendant appealed, arguing that the sentences were illegal because they exceeded the maximum penalties set forth by law for second-degree felonies. The trial court denied the motion, and the defendant appealed the denial.
Grounds for Vacating a Sentence in Florida
Under the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, a court may correct an illegal sentence if the defendant affirmatively alleges that the court records, on their face, establish an entitlement to the relief requested. In the subject case, the court noted that sexual battery on a person under twelve years old is a first-degree felony that is punishable by up to thirty years in prison. Thus, the court found that the sentence of twenty years imprisonment followed by lifelong probation exceeded the statutory maximum and, as such, was illegal.