County Criminal Court : CRIMINAL LAW – Sentencing – Statutory construction – In a case involving a charge of DUI, the action of the trial court, in crediting time previously spent in a residential treatment program after the offense was committed but prior to the imposition of sentence, was lawful and not in conflict with Florida Statute § 316.193 (6) (k). Trial court’s judgment and sentence affirmed. State v. Sarantos, No. CRC08-00038APANO (Fla. 6th Cir.App.Ct. April 17, 2009).
NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES FOR REHEARING
AND, IF FILED, DETERMINED
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
OF THE STATE OF
Appeal No. CRC 08-00038APANO UCN 522007CT085405XXXXXX
TINA A. SARANTOS
Opinion filed April 17, 2009.
Appeal from a Judgment
entered by the Pinellas County Court
County Judge Donald E. Horrox
Wesley C. Dicus, Esquire
Assistant State Attorney
Attorney for Appellant
Lynda B. Barack, Esquire
Attorney for Appellee
ORDER AND OPINION
THIS MATTER is before the Court on Appellant, State of Florida’s appeal from a judgment of the Pinellas County Court which, in part, allowed Appellee credit toward a term of incarceration, for time previously spent in a residential treatment program after the offense was committed but prior to the imposition of sentence. After reviewing the briefs and record, this Court affirms the judgment.
Factual Background and Trial Court Proceedings
On June 5, 2007, Appellee, Tina A. Sarantos, was arrested and charged with driving under the influence and other offenses. On June 15, 2007, Appellee entered a residential treatment program to address substance abuse issues. She remained in the residential program for forty-four days and thereafter entered the outpatient after-care program. On May 22, 2008, Appellee entered a plea agreement and was sentenced on the driving under the influence offense to, among other things, ten days incarceration in the Pinellas County Jail. The trial court, over the objection of the State, allowed Appellee credit for the forty-four days she had previously spent in the residential treatment program. This credit for time served satisfied the requirement that Appellee serve ten days in jail. The State argues that this was an illegal sentence.
Standard of Review
Florida Statute § 316.193 (6) (k) provides in pertinent part:
A defendant, in the court's discretion, may be required to serve all or any portion of a term of imprisonment to which the defendant has been sentenced pursuant to this section in a residential alcoholism treatment program or a residential drug abuse treatment program. Any time spent in such a program must be credited by the court toward the term of imprisonment.
Appellant argues that the trial court improperly construed Florida Statute § 316.193 (6) (k). Specifically, the trial court incorrectly ruled it had discretion to credit a defendant with time spent in a residential treatment program after the commission of the offense but before the imposition of sentence.
Appellant maintains that:
The time frame for
when the residential treatment program must be served in order to earn
time-served credit is clearly set out in the first sentence of the statute. The
relevant portion of the statute reads, “A defendant … may be required to serve
all or any portion of a term of imprisonment to which the defendant has been sentenced … in a residential …
treatment program..” § 316.193 (6) (k)
Appellant’s Reply Brief, pages 7-8. Therefore, Appellant claims, “the judge’s discretion lies solely in whether the judge will require the defendant, post-conviction, to spend all or a portion of the term of imprisonment in a residential treatment program.” (Emphasis added).
The problem with Appellant’s argument is that the actual language of the statute does not expressly require that the time spent in a residential treatment program be post-conviction. The words of the two sentences of the statute do not prohibit a trial court from recognizing time previously spent in a residential treatment program after the offense was committed but before the sentence was imposed.
the language of the statute is clear and unambiguous and conveys a clear and
definite meaning, there is no occasion for resorting to the rules of statutory
interpretation and construction; the statute must be given its plain and
obvious meaning. Holly v. Auld, 450 So.2d 217,
its application to penal and criminal statutes, the due process requirement of
definiteness is of special importance.
Thus, to the extent that definiteness is lacking, a statute must be
construed in the manner most favorable to the accused. Perkins
v. State, 576 So.2d 1310, 1312 (
The rule of strict
construction also rests on the doctrine that the power to create crimes and
punishments in derogation of the common law inheres solely in the democratic
processes of the legislative branch. The Florida Constitution requires a
certain precision defined by the legislature, not legislation articulated by
the judiciary. See Article II, Section 3,
breadth beyond the strict language approved by the
legislature. To do otherwise would violate the separation of powers. Art. II, § 3,
Perkins, 576 So2d 1312-1313. A criminal statute must apprise ordinary persons of common intelligence as to what is
prohibited and what penalties are imposed. Borjas v. State, 790 So.2d 1114,
The Present Case
Florida Statute § 316.193 (6) (k) contains two sentences. The first sentence means simply that the trial court has discretion to require a defendant to serve all or part of a jail sentence in a residential treatment program. The second sentence means simply that any such time in a program must be credited toward the jail sentence. The actual language of the statute contains no requirement that the time spent in a residential treatment program be post-conviction.
This Court has no genuine doubt about the meaning or correct application of this statute. There is no need for statutory interpretation and construction. If there was such a need, the statutory provision would have to be strictly construed in favor of the person charged with an offense. In the present case, the action of the trial court, in crediting time previously spent in a residential treatment program after the offense was committed but prior to the imposition of sentence, was not in conflict with Florida Statute § 316.193 (6) (k). The sentence imposed was lawful.
This court concludes that the judgment of the trial court should be affirmed.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.
Original opinion entered by Circuit Judges Michael F. Andrews, Raymond O. Gross, & R. Timothy Peters.
cc: Honorable Donald E. Horrox
Office of the State Attorney
Lynda B. Barack, Esquire
 Notwithstanding the fact that the language of the present Florida Statute § 316.193 (6) (k) was enacted in 1988, this Court is aware of no Florida appellate case authority that finds any ambiguity in that statutory provision or that supports Appellant’s reading of that statute.