What is a Downward Departure?

When a person is charged with a felony offense in the State of Florida, that offense carries with it a number of points. These points are placed on a scoresheet, which takes into account the current charge or charges, prior history, victim injury points, whether a person was on probation if the defendant was armed or wearing a mask, and so much more. Once all the charges and potential enhancements are entered into the scoresheet the total amount of points is calculated. If that point total is 44 points or greater than the total is placed in a mathematical equation and lowest permissible prison sentence (LPS) is generated in months to be served in the Florida Department of Corrections. However, it is possible to score prison and not be sentenced to prison. A downward departure in Florida happens when the Judge goes below or departs from the lowest permissible prison sentence. For instance, if a person had an LPS of 24 months in prison, but the judge only sentenced the person to probation then that would be a downward departure. There are specific reasons and criteria set out in the Florida statutes pertaining to downward departures and they are listed on the scoresheet as well. To learn more about Florida downward departures read on or discuss your case with a Florida criminal defense attorney at Meldon Law today.

How to Get a Downward Departure?

  •  A legitimate uncoerced plea deal, which means the state and defense both agree to go below the guidelines to resolve the case.
  •  Another would be if a person is below a certain age they could be sentenced as a youthful offender which would justify departing from the guidelines. To qualify as a youthful offender a person must have been under the age of 21 when the offense was committed.
  •  If the defendant was an accomplice to the offense and was a minor participant.
  •  The defendant lacked the capacity to appreciate the criminal nature of the conduct.
  •  The defendant requires specialized treatment for a mental disorder and amenable to treatment. The key to this mitigating circumstance is that the specific mental disorder is unrelated to substance abuse.
  •  The payment of restitution to the victim outweighs the need for a prison sentence.
  •  The alleged victim was the initiator, willing participant, aggressor, or provoker of the incident.
  •  The defendant acted under extreme duress.
  •  Before the identity of the defendant was known, the victim was compensated.
  •  The defendant cooperated with the state to resolve the offense and other offenses.
  •  The crime was committed in an unsophisticated manner and was an isolated incident for which the defendant has shown remorse.
  •  Another option is if the offense is for a nonviolent felony and the defendant scores less than 60 points and the court determines that the individual is amenable to treatment then the person may be sentenced to a post-adjudicatory drug court program in lieu of prison.

How The Defense Attorneys At Meldon Law Can Help

However, know that just because a person may qualify for a Florida downward departure does not mean the Judge has to depart from an LPS. When dealing with a felony case, it is important to hire a skilled defense attorney that understands the intricacies of a scoresheet, not all prior history can be scored against you, there are exceptions, what facts and mitigation can be used to argue that a person should receive a downward departure and so much more. This is just a very basic and brief overview of one small part of a felony case, if you have any questions about your scoresheet, Florida downward departure, or about your felony case please call and we would be happy to assist. At Meldon Law, we know the rights you have and are dedicated to defending them and defending you if you have been charged with a felony offense or are just being investigated by law enforcement for potential felony charge contact us at 352-373-8000.