here it is! good news from your favorite Ft Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer, for anyone facing a felony in Florida

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Here it is! Good news from your favorite 🙂 local Ft Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer, for any person facing sentencing for a felony in Florida:

I am posting, below, the statutory list of recognized “downward departures” that the legislature and Florida Supreme Court now legitimize as lawful reasons for a judge to sentence an offender BELOW the applicable sentencing guidelines.

I posted earlier the fact that Florida judges are confined on many levels by the “Sentencing guidelines” that are spelled out in Florida Statute 921.0024, which unfortunately, are essentially a mathematical-like calculus of “points” assigned to each of the exact “offenses” for which the person is being sentenced, with “additional points” then assigned and added for every recent or historical prior conviction in that person’s life, creating an “aggregate” total number of “points” that are then cross-referenced to a specific number of “months in prison.” This seems so cold and calculated and algebraic in nature, seemingly disallowing any inquiry into the person’s medical issues or childhood trauma or exceptional circumstances in their life — and it seems to strip away a judge’s ability to look at the humanistic approach to evaluating a person’s life and whatever redeeming things that person may have otherwise done with their life; BUT, thankfully, the calculus is not entirely over here, and there is now some real potential for help:

The good news is — and I absolutely love sharing this good news and educating folks on the happier side of the issues — the good stuff that they will only hear from the lips or the pen or the post of a Ft Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer or federal criminal defense lawyer … so here it is:

if YOU and your loved ones find yourselves in a situation where you are facing a judge in the middle of this cold and frightening equation, we can now look to a totally different and much more helpful Florida statute, F.S. 921.0026, and specifically its subsections under section (2), including each and every subsection listed alphabetically beginning with (a) and ending in (l), and for the best news:

These subsections under F.s. 921.0026 (2) allow a sentencing judge to essentially disregard the otherwise applicable “guidelines” and “depart” in a “downward” direction from that “range of prison months” in a person’s “sentencing guidelines score sheet,” and plummet all the way down to “house arrest,” or “community confinement” or even “probation” if the judge would like, based on any one (1) of these now recognized, legitimate “downward departures.” The judge doesn’t need to “find” a few of these “reasons” or “bases” (subsections”) to apply *before he or she can depart downward, ie, to show more leniency or benevolence and mercy in sentencing now. The judge need only find one (1) of these subsections to apply, and then the court can sentence the defendant to any sentence below the guidelines.

I am also a Ft lauderdale DUI lawyer and Broward DUI and misdemeanor criminal defense lawyer and can therefore tell you that none of this applies to DUI or misdemeanor offenses — only to the more serious crimes known as felonies; but again the good news is, each and every one of these subsections can be wonderfully helpful for anyone facing sentencing for a felony offense in Florida, and you would of course look to certain ones depending on the facts of the individual case.

Let me just reprint them for you right here, right now:

921.0026 (2) (a – l) :

“(a) the departure results from a legitimate, uncoerced plea bargain.”

“(b) The defendant was an accomplice to the offense and was a relatively minor participant in the criminal conduct.” [You can imagine how many times as a Ft Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer that I get to use this one! 🙂 ]

“(c) the capacity of the defendant to appreciate the criminal nature of the conduct or to conform that conduct to the requirements of law was substantially impaired.”

“(d) The defendant requires specialized treatment for a mental disorder that is unrelated to substance abuse or addiction or for a physical disability, and the defendant is amenable to treatment.” [As a South Florida trial lawyer and Broward criminal defense attorney, I get to argue this one fairly often, as you might imagine.]

“(e) the need for payment of restitution to the victim outweighs the need for a prison sentence.” [I often get the opportunity as a Ft Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer to enlist the help of the victim [as would you if you were the criminal defense lawyer :)] in weighing in with the prosecution’s knowledge, of course, to score the applicability of this helpful “downward departure,” allowing the victim to essentially help us to pay restitution as the alternative to prison!]

“(f) the victim was an initiator, willing participant, aggressor, or provoker of the incident.” [I have been a Broward criminal attorney for a couple of decades now, and I can assure you that we see this scanario quite often, so you know that we can use this subsection fairly often!]

“(g) the defendant acted under extreme duress or under the domination of another person.”

“(h) Before the identity of the defendant was determined, the victim was substantially compensated.”

“(i) The defendant cooperated with the State to resolve the current offense or any other defense.” [Imagine you were the Ft lauderdale criminal attorney or trial lawyer like me, and then ask yourself how many times you would be using this one!]

“(j) The offense was committed in an unsophisticated manner and was an isolated incident for which the defendant has shown remorse.” [I use and argue this particular subsection most often — more than any other, as a Ft Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer, since many crimes are committed in a rather “unsophisticated manner,” and many time, these offenses are “isolated incidents,” and the clients have often”shown remorse.”]

“k) At the time of the offense the defendant was too young to appreciate the consequences of the offense.” [My experiences as a Florida federal criminal lawyer ALL across the land — and not just my cases in Ft Lauderdale, but everywhere in the State of Florida as a Florida criminal attorney and Broward trial lawyer over the last twenty (20) years, has shown me that more and more of my clients are younger and younger, as more and more “juveniles” and younger folks are committing “adult” crimes all across the State; so you can imagine the increasing rate at which we are applying this particular subsection that allows for “youth” to be argued as a basis for “downward departure.”]

“(l) The defendant is to be sentenced as a youthful offender.” [The person must not be over 21 years of age in order for us to avail ourselves of this particular subsection, and I can assure you as your local Ft Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer, we will race like the dickins with a client who is approaching their 21st birthday, to have them “qualified” as a “Youthful Offender” and score “Y.O” Sentencing!]

These are all wonderfully helpful subsections and I use them as often as possible to help my clients. This is very good news, and people need to know about this! Please pass this good news along to anyone you care about i- and to everyone, frankly, since we ought to care about everybody! Right? We never know when one of our loved ones or friends or neighbors will get jammed up, falsely or not, and if not them, then one of their kids; so let’s pass along this good news that you will never hear about from the law enforcement and prosecution side of the equation, not even from our well-intentioned friends on the police force or on the bench. I will leave you with the words of a appellate court Judge with whom I couldn’t agree more:

“Judicial discretion and sentencing involved more than the mere autonomous matching of marks on a guideline’s matrix. Judges, after all, are not a race of computers. Because of the humanistic side of judging, compassion has always had an honored place in the administration of justice.” – State v. Porter, 659 So. 2d, 328, 329-330 (Fla. 3d DCA 1995)

Thank you for reading this and thank you in advance for passing it along to others who need to know the good news; and please feel free to call me anytime @ 9547668810, if you have any family or friends who need help. I am,

Most sincerely,

John Castellano,


About the Author:

John M. Castellano is a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney who has helped thousands of clients throughout Florida. While building a reputation as a premiere Fort Lauderdale DUI attorney, Mr. Castellano has worked tirelessly to develop strategies to best protect the rights of those arrested for DUI in Broward, Dade and West Palm. However, Mr. Castellano is not just a drunk driving lawyer. He has been a successful domestic violence attorney, drug trafficking attorney, as well as all other Felony and Misdemeanor cases.

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