Stephen G. Cobb - Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer

Crime And Treatment And Rule 3.992(a)


Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

Welcome back to Florida Criminal Law TV. My name is Stephen G. Cobb, Attorney At Law. And today, we are talking about my absolute favorite subject in the world, the one thing where I think I can truly help people live a more empowered and productive life even if their life has been a train wreck up until the time we first meet, and that is Crime And Treatment.

Now, in our last video, I touched on some of the ways in which SPECT brain imaging is used as part of crime and treatment. Now, I am going to get a little bit more specific and give you some more details. It may be a little too much for some but I think you’ll follow along. Florida has a rule of criminal procedure for felony cases known as rule 3.992A. And rule 3.992A codifies Florida Statute section 921, which has what is known as an Offense Severity Ranking on 10 different levels. If an offense is a level 1, it scores a number of points. If an offense is a level 10, it scores a whole bunch of points. The basic rule of sentencing in felony court is this. If someone scores under 44 points, then they cannot be sentenced to a state prison sentence unless certain criteria are met. It is actually more complex than that and it involves this and that for 22 points, this between 22 and 44, we’re just going to keep it basic. Just think to yourself. Generally, under 44 points, you do not have to go to prison under the law. The judge can sentence you to a non-incarcerative sentence. Whereas, if someone scores, say, they have a level 7, 56-point aggravated battery by battery into a pregnant woman, and that is an example. It could be anything else.

But right away, in the first section of the sentencing scoresheet under rule 3.992A and you have 10 different areas in there where points are assessed. Right off-the-bat, you have 56 points and the magic number is 44. So, by the time you start adding up points for every different way, you can add up points in a case, you start ending up in a scenario where normally, what the lawyers are talking about with plea bargaining is, “Are we looking at 14 years or are we looking at 45 years”. Now, 14 is a very different number than 45, but for many people, 14 years in prison or 7 years, whatever it is, that feels like the end of life itself. I mean let’s be honest. Prison is institutionalized politically approved cruelty, to be honest about it. That is exactly what it is. It is a time where the government has said, “We can treat people terribly, inflict suffering, harm their brains, oh, and then we are going to release them back out into the public. What a great idea!” I am the guy in the room going, “Isn’t it true that the Bureau of Justice Statistics with the federal government has said that people who fit that category are more likely to commit more crimes and become more violent when they commit crimes?” There is that part of me that thinks it’s spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to lock them up for a period of time only to make them more dangerous and release them back upon an unsuspecting public, might possibly could maybe be one of the worst ideas in the history of the world. Yet that’s how politics works.

So, what we do is we do a cost analysis for the court, we go through the facts of the case and factor in everything. And then, most importantly, we have three things to show when it comes to crime and treatment. Under the law, once all the points have been assessed under rule 3.992A, you have rule 3.992B, which lists all the different grounds for a departure sentence from the normal point-based minimums. Now, I am only going to focus on one of them but there are several. You need to know that. And the one I normally use with brain imaging is what is known as the specialized treatment departure ground. And in the next section, I am going to discuss the specialized treatment departure ground in more detail.

Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

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Stephen G. Cobb, Esq.

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