Florida has an extensive criminal sentencing system history that dates back to when all felonies were eligible for parole for crimes committed before October 1, 1983 even for what is termed “life” felonies where the prescribed punishment was a life sentence. Historical developments had made it necessary for the system to be changed several times, primarily because of the increase in the Florida population as well as practical issues such as the costs of state incarceration.
The current sentencing guidelines for felonies today bear very little resemblance to the original system back before 1983 but which remains a threshold for determining if the individual will be held to that standard or the current one. In other words, a felony i.e. murder committed prior to October 1, 1983 will be treated differently from crimes committed on or after that date. More information about felony sentencing is available on the website of the Flaherty Defense Firm.
There are five classifications of felony in Florida for purposes of sentencing, all of which sentences of more than a year are carried out in a state prison. There are many exceptions to these rules as any competent Florida criminal defense lawyer will be aware of.
- Capital Felony: The Florida Statutes provides under § 921.141 that a capital felony is punishable by death or life imprisonment without parole. Capital felonies include armed kidnapping, capital drug trafficking, and murder.
- Life Felony: Life felonies committed before October 1, 1983 is eligible for life imprisonment or no less than 30 years while those committed on or after that date is eligible for life imprisonment or no less than 40 years. However, there are several more conditions that have to be considered based on exactly when the crime was committed and the nature of the felony. For example, the punishment of “lewd or lascivious” molestation of a minor by an individual 18 years or older committed on or after September 1, 2005 is life imprisonment or no less than 25 years followed by lifelong probation or community control.
- First Degree Felony: Generally, this type of crime warrants a sentence of up to 30 years unless specifically provided for by statute which could bring it up to life imprisonment.
- Second Degree Felony: A conviction under this classification carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison.
- Third Degree Felony: Under the current statutes, a felon in the third degree may spend as much as 5 years in prison.