“Scoresheet” Basics – Florida Felony Sentencing –
If you have ever faced Florida felony charges, or have been to court with someone who has, you have probably heard people talking about their “score” or “the scoresheet.” What on earth is a scoresheet? In an attempt to create truth-in-sentencing and try to make sentencing consistent throughout the state the Florida Legislature enacted the Criminal Punishment Code (CPC). The CPC lays out the sentencing structure in the state of Florida which is based in large part on what is called a scoresheet.
Many people know that in Florida every felony is either a third degree felony, a second felony, a first degree felony, a life felony, or a capital felony. What many people do not know is that every felony within each of those categories also has an “offense level.” Offense levels range from 1 to 10, with the most serious charges being a level 10 and the least serious charges a level 1. Section 921.0022 lists all the different felonies and what level they are.
Once you know what level of offense you are facing we now plug that information in to a scoresheet. A scoresheet is a form that is used all around the state. You can find a copy of one in Florida Statute 921.0024. It contains several parts, but we’ll just talk about some of the more important, and most commonly used, parts. The first part of the scoresheet is where you plug in your “primary offense.” The primary offense is typically the most serious charge you are facing. The second part of the score is for “additional offenses.” Additional offenses are the other charges you are facing. For example: Steve is arrested for Burglary of a Dwelling and Possession of Cocaine. The burglary charge is a second degree felony and a Level 7 offense. The cocaine charge is a third degree and a level 3 offense. Therefore, the burglary will be put in the scoresheet as the primary offense (because it is the most serious charge you’re facing) and the cocaine will be an additional offense. The third section is your “prior record.” Your prior is what it sounds like – a list of all the crimes you have been convicted of in the past. The only time a conviction will not be on your scoresheet is it has been more than 10 years since your last arrest, when you got off of probation, or were released from any kind of jail, prison, or parole.
Once you have plugged in your primary offense, your additional offenses, and your prior record, you figure out the number of points that you have. Luckily, the scoresheet has a legend that tells you how many points each offense level gets under each section. So, you add all the points together and you get your point total. If you point total is less than 44 points, good news: you can be sentenced to anything as low as probation or time served. If you are over 44 points then you plug your point total into the mathematical equation that the legislature came up with, found on the scoresheet. Do the math and the result is your “lowest permissible prison sentence in months.”
The lowest permissible prison sentence on your scoresheet is what it sounds like: the lowest prison sentence the judge can give you if you are found guilty. Of course there are exceptions to this rule, but that is a complicated area of the law (like this wasn’t) and we’ll save it for a different day.
If you have any questions about how a scoresheet works, or felony cases in general, give me a call.