Just moments ago, Palm Beach Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Colbath sentenced Wellington Polo Club founder John Goodman to 16 years in state prison due to his convictions for DUI manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident causing death.
At a sentencing hearing (which only occurs if the accused is convicted at trial), the judge will determine an appropriate sentence. The judge will consider many factors. The judge will hear arguments from both the state and the defense. The judge will be informed of the accused's guideline range under the Florida Criminal Punishment Code. The sentence will also listen to testimony. Testimony could come from parties involved (the defendant, witnesses, the alleged victim), character witnesses, as well as the next of kin (in a homicide case).
If there is a mandatory minimum sentence that applies to the charge, the judge must impose it.
A legal sentence is a sentence that is within the permissible guideline range. A judge may go "below guidelines" and impose a sentence if they are not precluded from doing so by a mandatory minimum and they make written findings justifying their downward departure.
The judge will consider the severity of the offense, the wishes of the victim (what sentence they want), the prior criminal history of the defendant, as well as other factors.
In John Goodman's case, the judge imposed a sentence of 16 years, which is more than what he scored at the bottom of his guidelines (11 years) and less than the maximum (30 years).