Jacksonville Sex Crimes Carry Steep Penalties as Shown in Hamilton v. State

Hamilton v. State shows why an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer must be diligent not only in defending the case, but preparing for a possible sentencing hearing.

In every case, whether a sex offense in Jacksonville or Jacksonville armed robbery situation, an attorney must prepare all aspects of a case. When criminal charges are brought against a person there is always the danger of a conviction.
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While a criminal defense attorney will do everything in his power to prepare for a victory at trial, preparing for a potential sentencing hearing shouldn’t be neglected. In Hamilton’s case, that appears to be what happened.

While no defendant nor criminal defense lawyer wants to admit there is a chance of defeat, the very nature of the criminal justice system puts people at that risk every day. When an officer makes an arrest, that person now faces the possibility of defeat, thought the state has the burden to prove the charges beyond all reasonable doubt.

In Hamilton’s situation, he was convicted of one count of molesting a child after being accused of inappropriate acts with a minor. After conviction, the man was sentenced to 50 years in prison in Indiana, an extreme sentence considering the facts of the case as well as the man’s character.

On appeal, the man argued that his sentence was too high considering that his prior convictions were for robbery when he was 18 years old in 1982 and a misdemeanor some years later. Physical conditions were also argued to be a hardship if he were sent to prison for a long period of time.

Based on the charge and the law, the man faced between 20 and 50 years in prison. His judge sentenced him to 50 years, but the Indiana Supreme Court ruled that the sentence was too high. Justices analyzed the case in an 8-page order, stating that although the allegations were bad, the man didn’t engage in a pattern of sexual offenses, but rather a one-time crime.

The court ruled that judges must sentence defendants fairly and consistent with other crimes. This means that a person who commits a few robberies shouldn’t face a longer sentence than someone who commits murder.

This has been an issue for Florida judges for some time. Because they don’t have access to not only their own previous sentence rulings, but that of other judges in their circuit or statewide, they are unable to determine what would be “fair” sentences compared to other cases.

Judges in Florida have the discretion to sentence a defendant based on the charge the person is convicted of and the possible penalties. That means unless the charge carries a minimum mandatory sentence, the judge can sentence a person from 0 to 30 years for first-degree felonies, 0 to 15 years for second-degree felonies and 0 to 5 years for third-degree felonies.

With the possible range of imprisonment, judges’ sentences can be all over the place. That’s why an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer must put time and effort into preparing for sentencing in each case. Family background, character assets and other positive characteristics must be put together to try to convince a judge to sentence lower than normal in cases where it is appropriate. If a person is convicted, they want their lawyer to be prepared to mitigate the sentence in every way possible.


The Forbess Law Firm has been aiding clients who face criminal charges in Jacksonville for more than a decade and is here to provide aggressive criminal defense to anyone accused of a crime. If you or a loved one requires a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, contact our firm today. We are available through our website or by calling us at 904-634-0900.

More Blog Entries:

Jacksonville Man Faces 19 Counts of Sex Crimes: October 14, 2011
Jacksonville Sex Offense Convictions Lead to Lifetime of Problems: October 5, 2011