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Florida’s Sentencing Enhancements

In addition to Florida’s Guidelines Scoresheet system for imposing sentence in a criminal case, Defendants must be aware of several other sentencing enhancements and how they may effect their ultimate outcome if convicted. Below are several of the more common enhancements to be aware of in felony cases.

The State Attorney’s Office controls the discretion of whether to seek these sentencing enhancements. Application of these sentencing enhancements is justified by the argument that the defendant’s current and past conduct has shown them to be a danger to society at large.

By empowering the prosecutors with the ability to seek these enhancements, the State Legislature removes discretion from the Court for sentencing purposes. The State Attorney’s Office will use the threat of seeking these enhancements as leverage in plea negotiations. Knowing and understanding when and how these enhancements may affect your case is imperative!

Prison Releasee Re-Offender (PRR)

Florida Statute 775.082(9)(a)1 defines a Prison Releasee Re-offender as any defendant who commits, or attempts to commit any of the following offenses within three (3) years of being released from a state correctional facility operated by the Department of Corrections or a private vendor, a county detention facility for which the sentence was a prison sentence, or a correctional institution of another state for what would be a felony within the state of Florida:

  • Treason
  • Murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Sexual Battery
  • Carjacking
  • Home-invasion robbery
  • Robbery
  • Arson
  • Kidnapping
  • Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon
  • Aggravated Battery
  • Aggravated Stalking
  • Aircraft piracy
  • Unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb
  • Any felony that involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against an individual
  • Armed burglary
  • Burglary of a dwelling
  • Burglary of an occupied structure
  • Any felony violation of §790.07, 800.04, 827.03, 827.071, or 847.0135(5)

If the State Attorney’s office seeks to have a defendant sentenced under PRR they must establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant meets the above qualifiers. If they are successful then the court must sentence the defendant as follows:

  • For a felony punishable by life, the defendant will be sentenced to LIFE.
  • For a felony of the first degree, the defendant will be sentenced to 30 years
  • For a felony of the second degree, the defendant will be sentenced to 15 years
  • For a felony of the third degree, the defendant will be sentenced to 5 years.

***A defendant sentenced under PRR will serve 100% of their sentence and is not entitled to gain time!!!!***

Habitual Felony Offender (HFO)

Florida Statute 775.084 defines a Habitual Felony Offender (“HFO”) as a defendant who has previously been convicted of any combination of two or more felonies.

The felony for which the defendant is presently set to be sentenced for must have been committed within 5 years of the date of the defendant’s last felony conviction or within 5 years of the defendant’s release from a prison sentence, probation, community control, or parole as a result of a prior conviction for a felony.

***Of the two prior felony convictions, only one may be related to the purchase or possession of a controlled substance!!!***

In order to be sentenced as a Habitual Felony Offender, the court shall obtain a Presentence Investigation prior to imposition of sentence. Additionally, written notice must be served on the defendant and their attorney “a sufficient time prior to the entry of a plea or prior to the imposition of sentence”. Each of the qualifiers for HFO status must be found by the court by a preponderance of the evidence.

Should the court find that a defendant qualifies as HFO then the court may sentence the defendant as follows:

  • For a felony punishable by life or a first degree, the defendant may be sentenced to LIFE.
  • For a felony of the second degree, the defendant may be sentenced to 30 years
  • For a felony of the third degree, the defendant may be sentenced to 10 years

Habitual Violent Felony Offender (HVFO)

Florida Statute 775.084 defines a Habitual Violent Felony Offender (“HVFO”) as a defendant who has previously been convicted of a felony or an attempt or conspiracy to commit a felony and one or more of those prior convictions was for:

  • Arson
  • Sexual Battery
  • Robbery
  • Kidnapping
  • Aggravated child abuse
  • Aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult
  • Aggravated Assault with a deadly weapon
  • Murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Aggravated manslaughter of an elderly person or disabled adult
  • Aggravated manslaughter of a child
  • Unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb
  • Armed burglary
  • Aggravated battery
  • Aggravated stalking

The felony for which the defendant is presently set to be sentenced for must have been committed within 5 years of the date of the defendant’s last felony conviction or within 5 years of the defendant’s release from a prison sentence, probation, community control, or parole as a result of a prior conviction for a felony

In order to be sentenced as a Habitual Violent Felony Offender, the court shall obtain a Presentence Investigation prior to imposition of sentence. Additionally, written notice must be served on the defendant and their attorney “a sufficient time prior to the entry of a plea or prior to the imposition of sentence”. Each of the qualifiers for HVFO status must be found by the court by a preponderance of the evidence.

Should the court find that a defendant qualifies as HVFO then the court shall sentence the defendant as follows:

  • For a felony punishable by life or a first degree, a minimum of 15 years
  • For a felony of the second degree, a minimum of 10 years not to exceed 30 years
  • For a felony of the third degree, a minimum of 5 years not to exceed 10 years

Florida’s 10/20/Life Law

Florida Statute 775.087, also known as the 10-20-Life law, applies mandatory minimum sentences when a defendant is convicted of any of a felony or an attempt to commit a felony listed below and possessed a firearm or destructive device:

  • Murder
  • Sexual Battery
  • Robbery
  • Burglary
  • Arson
  • Aggravated Battery
  • Kidnapping
  • Escape
  • Aircraft piracy
  • Aggravated Child Abuse
  • Aggravated Abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult
  • Unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb
  • Carjacking
  • Home Invasion Robbery
  • Aggravated stalking
  • Trafficking or Capital Importation of enumerated narcotics
  • Possession of a Firearm by a Felony

If, during the commission of any of these offenses, a defendant simply possessed a firearm then the court shall sentence them to at least 10 years.

If, during the commission of any of these offenses, a defendant discharges a firearm then the court shall sentence them to at least 20 years.

If, during the commission of any of these offense, a defendant discharged a firearm and, as a result of the discharge, death or great bodily harm was inflicted upon any person then the court shall sentence them to at least 25 years but no more than life in prison.

Know what you are facing!

Given the earth-shattering nature of Florida’s sentencing enhancements it is imperative that you have representation by attorney’s who can properly prepare and advise you of your potential exposure. Call us today to discuss these issues and how they may affect your case!

To discuss your case and how our Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers can help you, schedule your free consultation now.

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