FLORIDA SENTENCING BLOG

A discussion of contemporary law, policy, and practice in Florida criminal sentencing.

Sentencing Multipliers Under the Criminal Punishment Code: Use of Juvenile Priors for the Grand Theft Motor Vehicle Multiplier

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There is a lot of misunderstanding about sentencing multipliers under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code, particularly when it comes to the Grand Theft Motor Vehicle multiplier and the use of juvenile priors as predicate offenses.

The Grand Theft Motor Vehicle multiplier is applicable where the primary offense charged is grand theft of a motor vehicle and the defendant’s prior record includes three more grand thefts of a motor vehicle. The confusion is usually over whether juvenile priors can be used as predicate offenses, and if so, whether or not there has to have been an adjudication of delinquency. Typical is the following question I received a few days ago from an Assistant State Attorney in the 15th Circuit, reproduced verbatim:

“I have a defendant who has 3 prior Grand Theft (motor vehicles) and in my opinion hits the multiplier because of it. However, 2 of the Grand Theft (MV) are adult convictions but 1 is a juvenile conviction from 2004 but within the 5 year period to score a juvenile conviction. The issue is: Can a juvenile convictions [sic] be used as an enhancement on the scoresheet?”

My answer is this: If the primary offense is third degree felony grand theft motor vehicle and the juvenile prior grand theft motor vehicle was committed within five years of the date of commission of the primary offense, the juvenile prior can be used as a predicate offense for the multiplier, whether or not the defendant was adjudicated delinquent or adjudication was withheld.

Sec. 921.0024(1)(b), F.S., provides: “If the primary offense is grand theft of the third degree involving a motor vehicle and in the offender’s prior record, there are three or more grand thefts of the third degree involving a motor vehicle, the subtotal sentence points are multiplied by 1.5.” Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.704(d)(21) provides: “If the primary offense is grand theft of the third degree of a motor vehicle and the offender’s prior record includes three or more grand thefts of the third degree of a motor vehicle, the subtotal sentence points are multiplied by 1.5.”

Neither the rule nor the statute distinguish between adult or juvenile offenses, or between withholds of adjudication or imposition of delinquency or guilt, and the clear meaning of both is that any third degree felony grand theft of a motor vehicle that qualifies as “prior record” can be used as a sentencing multiplier.

By the way, juveniles are not “convicted.” In juvenile court a finding of delinquency is the condition precedent to either adjudication or withholding of delinquency in juvenile cases.

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Written by Hon. William Burgess

August 2, 2008 at 5:23 pm

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