How Does a Prior Record Impact the Scoresheet in Florida?

For purposes of preparing the scoresheet under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code, one section applies points based on the defendant's prior criminal record. For this reason, a first-time offender will have a lower score on the scoresheet when compared with a person with several prior felony or misdemeanor convictions. 

Call the attorneys at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. with offices in Fort Lauderdale for Broward County and West Palm Beach in Palm Beach County, FL. We can help you understand how a prior criminal record can impact your pending felony charges and the criminal process in Florida

Call (561) 283-3259 today to discuss your case.

What Counts as a Prior Record?

The term “prior record” is defined as any conviction for an offense committed by the offender before the commission of the primary offense. The term “conviction” is defined as a determination of guilt that is the result of a plea or trial, regardless of whether adjudication is withheld.

The term "prior record: includes:

  • convictions for offenses committed by the offender as an adult or juvenile;
  • a conviction counts regardless of whether it occurred in federal court, an out of state court, military court, or a foreign court.
  • points are added for convictions involving a violation of the county or municipal ordinances that incorporate by reference a penalty under state law. 

Convictions in federal court, out of state court, military court or foreign convictions are scored at the severity level at which the analogous Florida crime is located. The elements of an out-of-state offense are to be the sole consideration for determining an analogous crime.

If you are charged with a felony, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. to discuss any pending case. With offices in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, we represent clients throughout Broward County, Palm Beach County and the surrounding areas in South Florida.

Do Older Convictions Count under Florida’s Scoresheet?

The ten-year rule applies in many of these cases. Under this rule convictions for offenses committed more than 10 years before the date of the commission of the primary offense must not be scored as prior record if the offender has not been convicted of any other crime for a period of 10 consecutive years from the most recent date of release from confinement, supervision, or other sanction, whichever is later, to the date of the commission of the primary offense.

The five-year rules applies for some dispositions in juvenile court. Juvenile dispositions of offenses committed by the offender within 5 years before the date of the commission of the primary offense must be scored as prior record if the offense would have been a crime if committed by an adult.

Juvenile dispositions of sexual offenses committed by the offender more than 5 years before the date of the primary offense must be scored as prior record if the offender has not maintained a conviction-free record, either as an adult or as a juvenile, for a period of 5 consecutive years from the most recent date of release from confinement, supervision, or sanction, whichever is later, to the date of commission of the primary offense.

Records that Do Not Count as a Conviction

The following events to not count as a conviction for purposes of the scoresheet including entries in criminal histories that show no disposition, disposition unknown, arrest only, or a disposition other than conviction must not be scored.

Criminal history records expunged or sealed under section 943.058, Florida Statutes, or other provisions of law, including former sections 893.14 and 901.33, Florida Statutes, must be scored as prior record where the offender whose record has been expunged or sealed is before the court for sentencing.

Any uncertainty in the scoring of the offender’s prior record must be resolved in favor of the offender and disagreement as to the propriety of scoring specific entries in the prior record must be resolved by the sentencing judge.

When unable to determine whether the conviction to be scored as prior record is a felony or a misdemeanor, the conviction must be scored as a misdemeanor. When the degree of felony is ambiguous or the severity level cannot be determined, the conviction must be scored at severity level of 1.

Additional Resources

The Scoresheet Preparation Manual for the Florida Criminal Punishment Code- Visit the website of the Florida Department of Corrections to find a preparation manual for the scoresheet used under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code. The manual was prepared by the Office of the State Courts Administrator and the Florida Department of Corrections. The manual took effect on July 1, 2015.

This article was last updated on Monday, November 11, 2016.

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