Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Your favorite Clearwater criminal defense lawyer is often asked before sentencing if a particular Judge is human. As it's remotely possible that some stray Judge will one day read these very words I'm tip tap typing as you glance over this page, I'll reluctantly decline to answer that question. 

This owl would make a fine judge because he would treat everyone with equal fairness and wisely listen to the motivations, failures, successes and goals of each defendant in Tampa Bay, Florida.
Is this a fair Judge?
Instead I'll pose a slightly better one - Does your Judge know that you're human? And if not, why not? If you were on a job interview wouldn't you do everything possible to persuade the interviewer about all the impressive things you've done in your life? You'd also talk about the even better things you plan to accomplish in your future. 

It's true that when it comes to sentencing the most important factor is often how the Florida scoresheets and guidelines apply to a specific set of facts. Yet fair sentencing decisions must always include much more than mere guidelines calculations otherwise our Judges are nothing more than human (or not so human) calculating machines. 

The best judges want a firm explanation of more than just the basic  sentencing guideline range blended with bland facts and circumstances of a case. The best judges also delve into the motivations, pressures, family life, failures, successes and goals of a defendant. 

What if you don't have the best judge or for that matter what if have a judge you don't suspect is human? Any judge can be led toward making good decisions that take into account a Defendant's entire life story. In Federal Court in the Middle District of Florida in Tampa, Federal judges have been told by the United States Supreme Court that the Federal Sentencing Guidelines are advisory not compulsory and that the Judges must examine in detail the personal characteristics of a defendant before sentencing. Clearly all judges should make an effort toward understanding a defendant before applying any sentence.

A strong, effective Clearwater criminal lawyer will push the judge toward wanting to learn more about the defendant's entire life history, learning not only what brought the defendant to this point in his life but why the defendant deserves to have a compassionate judge, a judge eager to find the best possible sentencing solutions with as little punishment as possible for a successful outcome.

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