Al's Legal Corner - Did You Know?

People will often ask if they can modify their sentence following a plea, or perhaps a jury trial that did not go well with different legal counsel. The answer, like with so many areas of the law, is that "it depends."

Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.800 allows Defendants to file a Motion to Reduce or Modify a Sentence within 60-days of the Judgment, or within 60-days of the Appellate Mandate. Thus, if a Defendant did not appeal his sentence, then he has only 60-days to file such a Motion. On the other hand, if the Defendant chose to file an appeal, then the Defendant only has 60-days following the Appellate Court's issuance of its final Order.

Presuming one qualifies, the 3.800 Motion is filed with the Trial Court, which is Circuit Court for adults with felonies, or with the County Court for adults with misdemeanors. Keep in mind, however, that not all sentences can be reduced or modified. For example, if your felony sentence is already at the bottom of the Felony Score Sheet Guidelines, and there were no grounds for a downward departure, then the Trial Court, in most cases, will not reduce or modify the sentence. If, however, there were factors not presented to the Trial Court during sentencing, then a Motion very well may be well-taken by the Court.

Note that the granting of a 3.800 Motion to Reduce or Modify a Sentence can, and often is, denied. Rarely will the Trial Court's denial of said Motion be altered on appeal, with certain exceptions of course. Therefore, it is important to do it right the first time, and doing it right means hiring competent Legal Counsel from the time you are arrested or given a Notice to Appear in Court. With the stakes so high in Criminal law, you need someone who exclusively handles Criminal Defense cases. Therefore, when hiring a lawyer, make sure you do your research and hire the right attorney for your circumstances up front, as with rare exception, you only get one shot to do it right.

If you, or someone you know, has legal questions, call my office immediately. We are only seven digits away, 24/7!

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