State v. Fureman, No. 5D12–2778.

CourtCourt of Appeal of Florida (US)
Writing for the CourtWALLIS, J.
Citation161 So.3d 403
Decision Date21 February 2014
Docket NumberNo. 5D12–2778.
PartiesSTATE of Florida, Appellant, v. Scott A. FUREMAN, Appellee.

161 So.3d 403

STATE of Florida, Appellant
v.
Scott A. FUREMAN, Appellee.

No. 5D12–2778.

District Court of Appeal of Florida, Fifth District.

Feb. 21, 2014.


161 So.3d 404

Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Rebecca Rock McGuigan, Assistant Attorney General, Daytona Beach, for Appellant.

James S. Purdy, Public Defender, and Lisa A. Haskins, Assistant Public Defender, Daytona Beach, for Appellee.

Opinion

WALLIS, J.

The State of Florida (“Appellant”) appeals the trial court's downward departure sentence given to Scott Fureman (“Appellee”), withhold of adjudication on a second-degree felony, and failure to impose conditions of sex offender probation. The trial court imposed the sentence after Fureman pleaded guilty to traveling to meet a minor, solicitation of a minor (or parent) by computer, and attempted lewd and lascivious battery. We agree as to each issue and reverse and remand for resentencing.

Fureman responded to an advertisement, entitled “Parenting Help Wanted,” that police posted on Craigslist as part of a sting operation. Over a three-week period, Fureman emailed on separate days with an undercover agent, who posed as a fourteen-year-old girl's mother. Early in his online communication, Fureman wrote that “[t]here are certain things I will not put in print, but I will say on the phone.” He also wrote, “Suffice to say, she will learn to be [sic] good, submissive girl and please the man she is with.” Fureman admitted to having knowledge of the internet, which he acquired and used for his benefit both professionally, on Craigslist, and personally, for one year, with an online dating service. Fureman also had multiple phone conversations with the agent, further detailing his plan to have sex with the fourteen-year-old girl. At the end of the three-week period, Fureman traveled from Lake County to Orange County admittedly for the reason of having sex with the underage girl. Upon arrest, Fureman was found to be in possession of both condoms and lubricant.

Fureman entered an open plea to: (1) traveling to meet a minor (or parent) for the purpose of engaging in an illegal act in violation of section 847.0135(4)(b), Florida Statutes (2011), a second-degree felony; (2) solicitation of a minor (or parent) via computer in violation of section 847.0135(3)(b), Florida Statutes (2011), a third-degree felony; and (3) attempted lewd or lascivious battery in violation of sections 800.04(4)(a) and 777.04, Florida Statutes (2011), a third-degree felony. Over the State's timely objection, the lower court withheld adjudication on all three counts without issuing written findings.

Fureman's sentencing scoresheet provided that his lowest permissible sentence was sixty-three months of incarceration. The lower court downwardly departed pursuant to section 921.0026(2)(j), Florida Statutes (2011), on the basis that Fureman committed the offenses in an unsophisticated manner, the offenses were isolated and uncharacteristic, and Fureman showed remorse. The trial court based its finding of unsophistication on the fact that Fureman did not initiate the Craigslist advertisement. The trial court sentenced Fureman to two years of community control followed by thirteen years of probation. Also, over the State's objection, the trial court refused to impose sex offender probation, finding that because Fureman entered an open plea to Count 3 for attempted

161 So.3d 405

lewd and lascivious battery in violation of section 777.04 and not actual lewd and lascivious battery in violation of section 800.04(4)(a), section 948.30's provisions of sex offender probation were inapplicable.

I. The Downward Departure.

“Appellate courts apply a mixed standard of review when analyzing a downward departure sentence.” State v. Leverett, 44 So.3d 634, 636 (Fla. 5th DCA 2010) (citing State v. Mann, 866 So.2d 179, 181 (Fla. 5th DCA 2004) ). “[T]he appellate court must determine whether the trial court applied the correct rule of law and whether competent, substantial evidence supports the trial court's reason for imposing a downward departure sentence.” Id.1

The lower court downwardly departed pursuant to section 921.0026(2)(j), Florida Statutes (2011), which is a statutory basis and, therefore, is a permissible legal reason to downward depart. See State v. Resh, 992 So.2d 294 (Fla. 5th DCA 2008). We, therefore, address whether there is competent, substantial evidence to support a finding of unsophistication.

The trial court reasoned that because Fureman did not post the advertisement, he committed the offenses in an unsophisticated manner. A separate statutory basis exists for a victim's initiation as a ground for a downward departure. See § 921.0026(2)(f), Fla. Stat. (2011) (providing a downward departure can be appropriate when “[t]he victim was an initiator, willing participant, aggressor, or provoker of the incident”). However, a downward departure under subsection (2)(f) is not proper where the police—acting undercover—initiated the contact. State v. Murphy, 124 So.3d 323, 331 (Fla. 1st DCA 2013) (citing State v. Holsey, 908 So.2d 1159, 1161 (Fla. 1st DCA 2005) ; State v. Grant, 912 So.2d 321, 322 (Fla. 2d DCA 2004) ). In addition to resting on an improper factual basis, the trial court's finding of unsophistication fails to account for Fureman's other actions, which include multiple email communications, multiple phone conversations, and ultimately traveling across county lines for the admitted purpose of engaging in sexual intercourse with the minor.

In determining whether there is competent and substantial evidence to support a downward departure, other courts have considered evidence of “several distinctive and deliberate steps” as an analytical factor to determine sophistication. State v. Salgado, 948 So.2d 12, 18 (Fla. 3d DCA 2006) ; Staffney v. State, 826 So.2d 509, 512 (Fla. 4th DCA 2002). The Staffney court found that the defendant's actions were further evidence that his acts were not unsophisticated when he took “several distinctive and deliberate steps in order for him to insert his finger in the victim's vagina, including unbuttoning and unzipping the victim's shorts, inserting his hand inside them, then beneath the victim's underwear, and finally, inserting his fingers inside her vagina” while she slept in a bed with...

To continue reading

Request your trial
7 practice notes
  • Fla. Dep't of Corr. v. Gould, 1D19-1149
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • June 10, 2022
    ...the sexual battery statute, as opposed to the attempt statute," which derives from Wilcox and other established cases. State v. Fureman, 161 So.3d 403, 407 (Fla. 5th DCA 2014). Twenty years ago, the Fifth District explained why this is so, responding to a sexual offender's reliance on Lee: ......
  • State v. Platt, No. 5D15–2968.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • November 4, 2016
    ...manner. In assessing sophistication, courts have considered evidence of "several distinctive and deliberate steps...." State v. Fureman, 161 So.3d 403, 405 (Fla. 5th DCA 2014) (quoting State v. Salgado, 948 So.2d 12, 18 (Fla. 3d DCA 2006) ; Staffney v. State, 826 So.2d 509, 512 (Fla. 4th DC......
  • State v. Hollinger, Case No. 5D17-1996
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • June 15, 2018
    ...DCA 2004)). In assessing sophistication, courts have considered evidence of "several distinctive and deliberate steps." State v. Fureman, 161 So. 3d 403, 405 (Fla. 5th DCA 2014) (quoting Salgado, 948 So. 2d at 18; Staffney, 826 So. 2d at 512). A crime lacks sophistication if the acts consti......
  • State v. Hollinger, Case No. 5D17-1996
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • August 17, 2018
    ...2004) ). In assessing sophistication, courts have considered evidence of "several distinctive and deliberate steps." State v. Fureman, 161 So.3d 403, 405 (Fla. 5th DCA 2014) (quoting Salgado, 948 So.2d at 18 ; Staffney, 826 So.2d at 512 ). A crime lacks sophistication if the acts constituti......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
7 cases
  • Fla. Dep't of Corr. v. Gould, 1D19-1149
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • June 10, 2022
    ...the sexual battery statute, as opposed to the attempt statute," which derives from Wilcox and other established cases. State v. Fureman, 161 So.3d 403, 407 (Fla. 5th DCA 2014). Twenty years ago, the Fifth District explained why this is so, responding to a sexual offender's reliance on Lee: ......
  • State v. Platt, No. 5D15–2968.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • November 4, 2016
    ...manner. In assessing sophistication, courts have considered evidence of "several distinctive and deliberate steps...." State v. Fureman, 161 So.3d 403, 405 (Fla. 5th DCA 2014) (quoting State v. Salgado, 948 So.2d 12, 18 (Fla. 3d DCA 2006) ; Staffney v. State, 826 So.2d 509, 512 (Fla. 4th DC......
  • State v. Hollinger, Case No. 5D17-1996
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • June 15, 2018
    ...DCA 2004)). In assessing sophistication, courts have considered evidence of "several distinctive and deliberate steps." State v. Fureman, 161 So. 3d 403, 405 (Fla. 5th DCA 2014) (quoting Salgado, 948 So. 2d at 18; Staffney, 826 So. 2d at 512). A crime lacks sophistication if the acts consti......
  • State v. Hollinger, Case No. 5D17-1996
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • August 17, 2018
    ...2004) ). In assessing sophistication, courts have considered evidence of "several distinctive and deliberate steps." State v. Fureman, 161 So.3d 403, 405 (Fla. 5th DCA 2014) (quoting Salgado, 948 So.2d at 18 ; Staffney, 826 So.2d at 512 ). A crime lacks sophistication if the acts constituti......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT