Florida Court Explains Sentences Imposed on Career Offenders

Under federal law, people with an extensive criminal history can be deemed career offenders, which means, in part, that they may face greater penalties for subsequent crimes. Only convictions for certain crimes will qualify a person for career offender status, however. If a defendant does not object to the sufficiency of the evidence demonstrating that they are a career offender at the sentencing level, however, they may waive their right to do so, as illustrated in a recent ruling issued in a Florida drug crime case. If you are accused of a drug-related offense, it is wise to confer with a Sarasota drug crime defense attorney promptly.

Case Setting

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with conspiring to distribute and distributing 50 grams or more of methamphetamine. During the trial, the government presented evidence of the defendant’s involvement in controlled methamphetamine purchases, and the jury found him guilty on both counts. The government sought a mandatory minimum sentence based on the defendant’s prior drug-related convictions.

Reportedly, the defendant’s presentence investigation report applied a 25-year mandatory minimum sentence and classified him as a career offender based on his prior convictions. The report listed three qualifying prior offenses, and the defendant did not object to the report. At the sentencing hearing, he admitted to the convictions listed in the government’s notice of intent, and his trial counsel raised no legal objections. The court sentenced the defendant to 360 months imprisonment, stating it would have imposed the same sentence even without the mandatory minimum due to the substantial amount of methamphetamine involved. The defendant appealed.

Disputing a Career Offender Status

On appeal, the defendant argued that he lacked the two prior controlled substance offenses required for the career offender classification. The court disagreed, finding no plain error in the trial court’s classification of the defendant as a career offender, as he had at least two prior controlled substance offenses.

The court also rejected the defendant’s argument that the district court erred in relying on the drug quantity calculation in the presentence report due to improper evidence admission. In doing so, the court pointed out that the defendant failed to object to the statements in the report, and therefore, the district court did not err in relying on them. Furthermore, the court noted that the defendant’s career offender status made the drug quantity calculation largely irrelevant to his sentencing. Thus, the court affirmed his sentence.

Confer with an Experienced Sarasota Criminal Defense Attorney

Convictions for federal drug crimes carry significant penalties, and the punishments handed down by the courts often increase with each additional conviction. The experienced Sarasota drug crime defense lawyers of Hanlon Law are well-versed in what it takes to achieve favorable outcomes in criminal matters, and if you hire us, we will advocate zealously on your behalf. You can contact Hanlon Law by calling 941-462-1789 or using the form online to arrange a conference.

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