Adult on Minor Sentencing Multiplier

State of Florida Criminal Sentencing Basics

Florida criminal sentences consider two main factors: the statutory maximum sentence and a scoresheet. The statutory maximum varies by degree of the crime. It’s pretty simple to understand. Florida punishes third degree felonies up to 5 years in prison, second degree felonies up to 15 years and first degree felonies up to 30 years.

On the other hand, the scoresheet is much more complex. The scoresheet totals points assigned to your pending charges, past offenses and includes other factors like multipliers. It creates a lowest permissible sentence in months, casually called the score. Normally, the score sets the lowest sentence and the statutory maximum sets the highest sentence. Judges may sentence someone in the range in between.

When people face serious or lots of charges, they might score above the statutory maximum. If that happens, the score becomes the maximum sentence too. There’s only one possible sentence for those situations and it’s the score.

Adult on Minor Sentencing Multiplier

In Millien v. State, the Fourth District Court of Appeal considers the sentence when the score exceeds the statutory maximum and the defendant qualifies for a multiplier. Millien pleads open to two counts of Lewd and Lascivious Battery on a Person 12 years or Older but less than 16 Years Old. Pleading open means he asks the judge to decide his sentence without any idea what sentence might come.

He scores 182.25 months, which exceeds the 15 year (180 months) statutory maximum. As there’s one possible sentence, the judge sentences Millien to 182.25 months. But the parties never discuss the adult on minor multiplier with the judge. Millien mentions the Adult on Minor multiplier in a Motion to Correct Sentence, saying it capped his sentence at 180 months. The court denies the motion.

On appeal, the fight occurs over this language in the multiplier statute: “If applying the multiplier results in the lowest permissible sentence exceeding the statutory maximum sentence for the primary offense under chapter 775, the court may not apply the multiplier and must sentence the defendant to the statutory maximum sentence.” Under this statute, Millien argues that the statutory maximum sentence equals 180 months so he should receive a shorter sentence.

The Fourth District disagrees. It would agree if the statute cites chapter 775 in both references to the statutory maximum sentence. That’s because Chapter 775 sets the statutory maximum sentences by degree, not score. As the second clause doesn’t mention Chapter 775, the score becomes the statutory maximum. Therefore, the judge correctly sentenced Millien to 182.25 months on the first count. The multiplier doesn’t affect the second count, but the judge must give Millien the lowest permissible sentence there too.

Conflict with the First District

Sometimes, the five appellate districts in Florida look at the same issue differently. When that happens, one of them can certify a conflict. Again, the Fourth District Court of Appeal certifies conflict with the First District Court of Appeal. It recognizes that both courts ruled differently facing the same issue. The First District would sentence Millien to 180 months. This conflict gives the Florida Supreme Court jurisdiction to review Millien’s case and decide which district properly interprets the statutes. Now Millien just has to file a Petition to see if the Florida Supreme Court shows interest.

Read the Millien opinion here!

Talk to an Experienced Florida Criminal Defense Attorney!

Talk to Jared at Brown Legal PLLC about Florida criminal sentencing! He’s an Ivy League educated former prosecutor with over 15 years experience! The criminal defense firm Brown Legal PLLC operates from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, but regularly handles cases throughout South Florida and the rest of the state. Jared has represented people as far away as Pensacola and as far south as Key West. Reach out over the phone at (954) 524-6700 or through the Contact Page if you have any questions.

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