Friday, March 08, 2013


Your Clearwater Criminal Attorney is often asked by clients to perform a miracle mind reading before the frowning Judge pronounces  sentence. 
Until the age of four, just like you and everyone else, I could read minds with ease, but society found it culturally intolerable and one morning that comforting bliss of knowing what others thought simply vanished.
It may be reassuring to know that anyone can read the minds of Judges especially before sentencing and you don't need to pass a Bar Exam nor go to law school to do it.

Lippi's painting of Saint Mamas in prison with Lions reminds us that Judges in Tampa Bay, Florida should try to avoid sentencing Defendants to jail by giving house arrest or probation.
Lippi, Saint Mamas In Prison with Lions, 1455
So if you or someone you love is about to be sentenced what is the Judge going to do? In Tampa Bay, Florida the Judge first looks to Florida sentencing guidelines and scoresheets, which will direct him toward a guideline range. 
To go under the guideline range your legal advocate must find articulable language within Florida law allowing him to do so.

Here are some of the best options for Defendants other than prison which may be available. When the law allows some discretion, a Judge may grant probation if the Defendant has no violent crime history nor is a threat to do further crime. In probation a Defendant will be closely monitored but will still have the freedom to maintain his job and social life. If a Judge finds that someone is apt to do further crime, for example in a drug case where there may be an addiction, then intensive probation may be ordered with random drug tests as a condition.

If probation is not an option, a Judge may grant house arrest, also known in Florida as Community Control if the Defendant would otherwise be imprisoned but can provide the Court with assurance that his home will be a prison with very limited social interaction.
The FDLE has an excellent article, Alternatives To Standard Methods of Incarceration which most Judges probably know by heart; here is an excerpt of the requirements for Community Control in Florida:

Community controlees are: (1) confined under "house arrest" to their residences except during regular employment, public service work, or participation in self-improvement programs approved by the community control officer; (2) required to do public service work for nonprofit and governmental agencies to make reparation to society; (3) required to pay monthly fees to the State to offset costs; (4) required to complete daily logs to account for their activities and time; (5) required to maintain employment to support themselves and their families; (6) ordered to submit to urinalysis and/or breathalyzer tests at any time; (7) must participate in self- improvement courses to improve their chances of rehabilitation.

Years ago while I was a prosecutor the inside joke whenever someone received house arrest was that it was 'delayed reporting to jail.' Like many jokes there's some truth there, because most people find it very difficult not to violate the onerous conditions which attach to house arrest. To successfully complete the terms of house arrest in Tampa Bay, Florida, you must think of it as being jail, but at least the benefit of being in jail at home.
A step closer to prison, but one with at least some freedom is work release, which may be an option for sentencing if the Judge is convinced that a Defendant needs a stepping stone of incarceration in a minimally controlled jail environment at night with limited freedom only to work during the day.
A creative and effective Clearwater Criminal Defense Lawyer will do his best before sentencing to persuade your frowning Judge to give his Clients the best possible results and maybe even crack a smile.

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