Court Explains Grounds for Vacating Illegal Sentences in Florida Criminal Matters

Pursuant to Florida law, while the courts have some discretion when sentencing people convicted of crimes, the sentences they administer must fall within the range dictated by the statutory guidelines. Accordingly, if a sentence exceeds a statutory maximum, it may be illegal and, therefore, may be subject to reversal. A Florida court recently discussed the grounds for reversing illegal sentences in a Florida case in which it granted the defendant’s request to vacate his sentences for aggravated battery and aggravated assault. If you are charged with assault, battery, or any other violent offense, it is smart to talk to a Sarasota violent crime defense lawyer to determine your rights.

Case Setting

It is alleged that the defendant faced convictions for two counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The charges stemmed from an altercation where the defendant allegedly indiscriminately fired shots into a crowd, injuring multiple individuals.

Reportedly, witness testimony during the trial implicated the defendant as the perpetrator of the shooting. He was subsequently convicted by a jury and sentenced to 36 years in prison for each aggravated battery conviction and 36 years with a 20-year mandatory minimum for aggravated assault. The defendant appealed, challenging multiple aspects of his convictions and sentences, including the admission of certain evidence, jury instructions, and the legality of his sentences.

Grounds for Vacating Illegal Sentences

On appeal, the court upheld the trial court’s decision on issues such as the admission of witness testimony and the denial of a competency hearing. Further, regarding the reclassification of the aggravated battery convictions, the court determined that the trial court properly reclassified them as first-degree felonies, as the aggravated battery was independently established by the showing of great bodily harm, and the firearm was not an essential element of the offense.

The court reversed the trial court’s rulings on the legality of the defendant’s sentences, however.

Notably, the court found that the defendant’s sentence for aggravated battery exceeded the statutory maximum of 30 years and, therefore, warranted reversal. Additionally, the court determined that the defendant’s sentence for aggravated assault was illegal because it was based on a mandatory minimum that no longer applied under Florida law.

The court also noted a miscalculation in the defendant’s scoresheet, which required resentencing. Furthermore, the court found that a written no-contact order imposed by the trial court was invalid because it was not orally pronounced at sentencing, thus requiring correction. As a result, the court affirmed the trial court ruling in part, reversed in part, and remanded the case for further proceedings consistent with its rulings.

Meet with a Dedicated Sarasota Criminal Defense Attorney

Although courts can sentence criminal defendants convicted of violent crimes as they see fit, they must comply with the statutory guidelines, and if they do not, the sentences they hand down may be illegal. If you are accused of a violent offense, it is wise to meet with an attorney to determine your possible defenses. The dedicated Sarasota violent crime defense lawyers of Hanlon Law can assess your case and help you to seek the best legal result available. You can contact Hanlon Law by calling 941-462-1789 or using the form online to arrange a meeting.

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