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Court Overturns Probation, Treatment For Drug Offender

wooden gavel
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

A state appeals court Thursday overturned a circuit judge's decision to commit a drug offender to a treatment program and place her on probation instead of sending her to prison.

A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal sided with prosecutors, who challenged the sentencing decision made by Franklin County Circuit Judge Stewart Parsons after Toni Marie Sawyer pleaded no contest to sale of a controlled substance. In deciding to suspend a prison sentence, the circuit judge found that Sawyer would benefit from substance-abuse treatment and is a single mother with three small children, according to Thursday's ruling.

But the appeals court overturned the sentencing decision, pointing to what is known as a “Criminal Punishment Code scoresheet” that, under law, required at least 39 months of imprisonment.