According to Florida Department of Law Enforcement statistics, the rate of violent crime in the state (which the FDLE defines as murder, forcible sex offenses, robbery and aggravated assault) has declined by more than fifty percent since 1991. This follows the trend across most of the country, according to Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics, which indicate that the rate reached a forty year low in 2010.While many theories have been put forth to explain the trend, the evolution in Florida over the past several decades of more severe and more certain punishment for violent offenders – particularly repeat offenders – has undoubtedly played at least some role.

Florida law concerning so-called “enhanced” sentences for repeat violent criminals are complex. The nature of the prior crime, the defendant’s age at the time and whether he or she has been incarcerated can all play a role. If you have been charged with a felony or other violent crime and you have prior convictions for that or another violent offense, you need expert legal advice in order to understand the possible additional sentence you may be facing if you are convicted again. Here, however, is a general summary of the ‘enhanced” classifications that may apply to a repeat offender.

A person may be classified as a habitual felony offender if:

He or she has been previously been convicted of any combination of two or more qualified offenses (the so-called “three strikes” law). “Qualified offense” is defined to include most felonies and certain serious misdemeanors.

He or she committed a crime while in prison for a prior conviction of a qualified offense or within five years of the date of the last prior conviction or release from prison or other commitment.

The current felony the offender is to be sentenced for and one of the two prior convictions don’t relate to purchase or possession of a controlled substance.

An individual may be classified as a violent career criminal if he or she:

  1. Has three or more previous convictions (as an adult) for any of the following:  Has been incarcerated in state or federal prison; and
    • Aggravated Abuse of the Elderly or Disabled;
    • Aggravated Child Abuse;
    • Aggravated Stalking;
    • Escape;
    • Felony use or possession of a Firearm;
    • Forcible Felony;
    • Lewd and Lascivious Conduct; and
  2. Is awaiting sentencing for a specified felony committed while serving a sentence for a prior conviction or within five years from the date of release.

A defendant may be classified as a “prison releasee” re-offender if the court finds that, while incarcerated, while at large after an escape or within three years after release, he or she attempted or committed any of the following crimes: Aggravated Assault; Aggravated Battery; Aggravated Stalking; Aircraft Piracy; Armed Burglary; Arson; Burglary of an Occupied Structure or Dwelling; Carjacking; Home-Invasion Robbery; Kidnapping; Manslaughter;Murder; Robbery; Sexual Battery; Throwing, Placing, or Discharging, a Destructive Device; Treason; and Any other felony involving actual or threatened violence; The Importance of Knowledgeable and Experienced Legal Representation.

If you are facing the possibility of being sentenced as a repeat or habitual violent offender, the consequences can be extremely serious. The criminal defense lawyers at Orner Law, LLC have provided aggressive and experienced representation of South Florida residents charged with a wide rage of serious crimes. We have offices conveniently located in Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale.  Don’t wait –call us today to schedule an initial consultation.