What Does Mandatory Sentencing Mean?

A mandatory sentence means that in the statute, the legislature deemed that it takes away the discretion of the judge. Therefore, in the sentencing, the judge has no choice and must give at least the minimum mandatory sentence. Whatever is mandatory they have to give you, they can’t go below that, even if he or she wanted to. An example of that is a case in Florida where a man was very ill and wheelchair bound. He was in so much pain and had rewritten a prescription to get more medication. When he was caught and prosecuted, because of the amount of pills, he was charged as a drug dealer. He, therefore, faced a mandatory 25 years in prison. The judge had no discretion in that case; he would have to sentence him to 25 years if in fact it was found that he forged the prescription. The only one who has true discretion in a criminal matter is the state attorney’s office. They can decide what to charge the defendant with. If they decided to charge him with a lesser charge, like simple possession or something without a mandatory sentence, then the judge would have had the discretion to give him a lesser sentence.

Are Mandatory Sentences Exceptionally Harsh In The State Of Florida? Are They Being Changed?

Mandatory sentences are still the case in Florida. Any time you take away the judge’s discretion, it’s not a good thing. The idea was to try to have uniformity. However, the thought also was that the legislature felt that in punishing people in such a harsh way, it would prevent people from committing certain crimes. I think statistically that is not true; but it is the law. For instance, child pornography carries very heavy penalties under the guidelines of both federal and state court. There can be circumstances where there should be leniency but is not. However, again, the state attorney has the option and the discretion, so it really depends on which office is reviewing the case. Is it Dade County? Is it Broward County? Is it West Palm Beach County? What county is involved? That office will make the decision of what to do in terms of the charge.

What Is Restitution?

Restitution is when someone is convicted of a crime such as theft and as part of their sentence they must make good and pay back whatever money which was taken. Therefore, restitution means that you are restoring the person or the victim back to their place before the crime was committed the best you can. Another example of restitution could be if you punch someone in the face and the victim has to go to the hospital, you would be responsible for paying his or her medical bills as part of your sentence. Restitution has nothing to do with insurance, however. It is what you need to do to pay back expenses that have not been recovered. For example, let’s say someone was driving recklessly, caused an accident and the damage to the car was $5,000 to the victim. However, the reckless driver had insurance. Then in that case, if the insurance company paid to fix the car, the victim would not get another $5,000 out of you because he was already compensated.

Does The Amount Of Money Involved In A Fraud Impact My Sentencing?

In Florida and in the federal system, the more money that is taken in a fraud or theft case does impact the sentencing. For example, there is a difference between stealing $300 and stealing $300,000. The same is true in drug cases. The more drugs someone has on him or herself, the stiffer the sentence will be because of the mandatory sentencing.

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