FL: Florida Supreme Court makes it risky for a defendant to tell a judge ‘I’m innocent’

Source: floridabulldog.org 12/7/21

The Florida Supreme Court is sending this message to criminal defendants: If you think you were wrongly convicted, keep it to yourself.

Ignoring long-standing law, the justices decided that when defendants dare to dispute their guilt instead of owning the crime, state trial judges may pile on extra prison time.

The court ruled last Thursday in the case of Alvin Davis, a 43-year-old black man with a lengthy rap sheet that includes convictions for attempted murder, robbery and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

After a jury found him guilty of a new charge, firearm possession, Davis told the judge he did not commit the crime.

“You still fail to take any responsibility for your actions,” Tallahassee Circuit Judge Robert Wheeler replied. He slapped Davis with the maximum possible prison sentence, 15 years.

On Thursday the high court voted 5-2 to uphold Davis’s sentence. The opinion settles a conflict among the state’s district courts of appeal with one rule for all:  A judge may consider for sentencing purposes “the defendant’s freely offered statements, including those indicating a failure to accept responsibility.”

With that, the justices normalized a penalty for defendants who proclaim their innocence. They’re entitled to address the court before sentencing, a procedure called allocution.

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So, either they guy makes a false statement or gets maximum sentence. He either shoots himself in the foot with any pending appeals or he gets maximum sentence… wow what justice this is.

This is common practice for CA courts I assume. I was offered 8 months alternative sentence and probation if I accepted the deal but since I fought it I got 5 years 4 months in prison and additional charges added on. How many people have done 5 years 4 months in prison for a 664/288(a)?

Is this really so surprising? “Lack of remorse” is normally the excuse provided in order to impose the trial penalty – a heavier sentence than the one offered at plea bargaining.

A judge may also consider acts of which the accused had been acquitted. Get that? You go to trial on several charges. The jury finds you innocent of let’s say 5 out of 6 counts. You go for sentencing on that one count. The judge, when determining a just and fair sentence, may take into consideration ALL of the acts for which you were originally charged INCLUDING the acts for which you were acquitted. That’s fair, right?

Then, in the criminal justice system, there is “the trial penalty”, where if you choose to fight your case and take it to trial, and lose, you will receive a far more severe sentence. Guilt and innocence have nothing to do with it.

The justification for this is “well you knew you were guilty and yet you chose to take up everyone’s time, and it cost a lot of money. And it’s essential that we send a clear message to others sitting in jail that if they fight their case as you have, they ARE going to get a stiffer sentence. We need them to plea out otherwise the system will crumble under the weight of having to have thousands of trials. The judge doesn’t like that. So you get to spend more time in prison (which will cost even more money) because you didn’t go along with the system”.

What a country.

Not the same but similar to what happened to guys required to do treatment before consideration for release from prison. The first step to treatment was “taking responsibility for your crimes” so anyone who contended he was innocent was barred from entering the treatment program. By not entering the program, they were eliminating any chance of release – when their sentence was up they were often referred for civil commitment under WI Chapter 980.

I thought the court system was to find justice, not to increase punishment.

Sounds like the classic kafka trap logical fallacy to me. Denial is evidence of guilt. Man these people are nuts.