Florida Increases Penalties for Unregistered Securities Sales
On April 6, 2012, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed HB 777 or “Criminal penalties for violations of securities laws” into law. The new law amends Section 921.00222, Florida Statutes, and increases the ranking of securities-related offenses in the Offense Severity Ranking Chart as follows:
- A violation of Section 517.07(1), Florida Statutes, which requires certain securities to be registered in Florida prior to sale, is increased from a Level 2 offense (equating to 10 sentencing points) to a Level 4 offense (equating to 22 sentencing points); and
- A violation of Section 517.12(1), Florida Statutes, which requires securities dealers, associated persons, and issuers to be registered prior to selling securities in Florida, is increased from a Level 1 offense (equating to 4 sentencing points) to a Level 4 offense (equating to 22 sentencing points).
As a result, the lowest permissible sentence for these offenses (which remain third degree felonies) will be increased. The effective date of the law is July 1, 2012.
Criminal offenses are ranked in the Offense Severity Ranking Chart from Level 1 (least severe) to Level 10 (most severe) and are assigned points based on the severity of the offense as determined by the legislature. As the offense level increases, the number of points rises.
A defendant’s sentence is calculated based on points, which are assigned based on factors including: the offense for which the defendant is being sentenced; victim injury; additional offenses that the defendant committed at the time of the primary offense; the defendant’s prior record; and other aggravating factors. The points are added in order to determine the “lowest permissible sentence” for the offense. If the total sentence points equals or is less than 44 points, the lowest permissible sentence is a non-state prison sanction (i.e., jail). If the total sentence points exceed 44 points, a prison sentence is the lowest permissible sentence. In each instance, the sentencing range is the lowest permissible sentence up to the maximum penalty provided in Section 775.082, Florida Statutes, which is based on the degree of the felony.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has reported that from 2006 through 2011 there were 48 convictions for violations of Section 517.07(1) and 53 convictions for violations of Section 517.12(1).