If you are charged with a felony crime in Florida, you have a few options. Your Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer should go through all of these options with you based on the facts or your case, the evidence, and the law. In the beginning of your case, the Duval County State Attorney may make an offer. This is an offer to enter into a plea agreement. After discussing this with you Jacksonville criminal attorney, you may decide to take the offer or reject it. With the advice of your attorney, you may make a counteroffer. If you are not guilty, your lawyer will likely work on having the charges dropped or dismissed. If your Jacksonville criminal lawyer does not work out a plea deal with the state attorney and the charges are not dropped or dismissed, the judge will set your case for trial. After a trial, the jury will either find you guilty or not guilty. There are other outcomes that may occur at trial such as a hung jury, mistrial, or judgment of acquittal.
If you are found guilty after trial or you plea guilty or no contest to the judge, you may be entitled to a presentence investigation before your sentencing hearing. Florida Statute Section 921.231 is the law that governs presentence investigations in Jacksonville. It states:
(1) Any circuit court of the state, when the defendant in a criminal case has been found guilty or has entered a plea of nolo contendere or guilty, may refer the case to the Department of Corrections for investigation and recommendation. Upon request of the court, it shall be the duty of the department to make either or both of the following reports in writing to the circuit court at a specified time prior to sentencing, depending upon the circumstances of the offender and the offense. The full report shall include:
(a) A complete description of the situation surrounding the criminal activity with which the offender has been charged, including a synopsis of the trial transcript, if one has been made; nature of the plea agreement including the number of counts waived, the pleas agreed upon, the sentence agreed upon, and additional terms of agreement; and, at the offender’s discretion, his or her version and explanation of the act.
(b) The offender’s sentencing status, including whether the offender is a first offender, habitual offender, or youthful offender or is currently on probation.
(c) The offender’s prior record of arrests and convictions.
(d) The offender’s educational background.
(e) The offender’s employment background, including any military record, his or her present employment status, and his or her occupational capabilities.
(f) The offender’s financial status, including total monthly income and estimated total debts.
(g) The social history of the offender, including his or her family relationships, marital status, interests, and related activities.
(h) The residence history of the offender.
(i) The offender’s medical history and, as appropriate, a psychological or psychiatric evaluation.
(j) Information about the environments to which the offender might return or to which the offender could be sent should a sentence of nonincarceration or community supervision be imposed by the court and consideration of the offender’s plan concerning employment supervision and treatment.
(k) Information about any resources available to assist the offender, such as:
1. Treatment centers.
2. Residential facilities.
3. Vocational training programs.
4. Special education programs.
5. Services that may preclude or supplement commitment to the department.
(l) The views of the person preparing the report as to the offender’s motivations and ambitions and an assessment of the offender’s explanations for his or her criminal activity.
(m) An explanation of the offender’s criminal record, if any, including his or her version and explanation of any previous offenses.
(n) A statement regarding the extent of the victim’s loss or injury.
(o) A recommendation as to disposition by the court. It shall be the duty of the department to make a written determination as to the reasons for its recommendation. The department shall include an evaluation of the following factors:
1. The appropriateness or inappropriateness of community facilities, programs, or services for treatment or supervision.
2. The ability or inability of the department to provide an adequate level of supervision for the offender in the community and a statement of what constitutes an adequate level of supervision.
3. The existence of other treatment modalities which the offender could use but which do not exist at present in the community.
If requested by the court, the department shall also provide to the court a summary report designed to expeditiously give the court information critical to its approval of any plea. The summary report shall include the information required by paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (j), (m), (n), and (o).
(2) In those instances in which a presentence investigation report has been previously compiled, the department may elect to complete a short-form report updating the above information.
(3) All information in the presentence investigation report should be factually presented and verified if reasonably possible by the preparer of the report. On examination at the sentencing hearing, the preparer of the report, if challenged on the issue of verification, shall bear the burden of explaining why it was not possible to verify the challenged information.
(4) The nonconfidential portion of the presentence investigation shall constitute the basic classification and evaluation document of the Department of Corrections and shall contain a recommendation to the court on the treatment program most appropriate to the diagnosed needs of the offender, based upon the offender’s custody classification, rehabilitative requirements, and the utilization of treatment resources in proximity to the offender’s home environment.