Like many other states, Florida has a three-strikes policy for criminal offenses. Anyone who commits specific crimes three or more times within a certain time frame is considered a habitual offender. If convicted, he or she could end up spending more time behind bars than the average offender, as well as face other enhanced penalties.
According to Florida statutes, habitual offender laws generally apply to felony-level cases. For one to be moved from offender to habitual offender status, at the time of one’s most recent conviction, one must already have two felony convictions on record, one of which must have occurred within the last five years or while the accused was serving time either behind bars, while on probation, out on parole or any other type of release. The crimes that can land someone on the habitual offender list include:
- Aggravated assault and battery
- Armed burglary
- Aggravated abuse
- Home invasion
In other words, three felony or violent felony convictions are what the state needs to see to charge one as a habitual offender. This type of charge is not something that will be addressed during one’s third felony criminal case. It will be handled separately. If the court deems one a habitual offender, the penalties tied to one’s latest conviction may be extended or enhanced. As far as imprisonment is concerned for these offenders, one may be looking at five years to life behind bars depending on the crime.
This is only a brief rundown of what a habitual offender is and what it takes for the state to deem a person such an offender. There is a lot involved in determining if one qualifies for this status, and even if the state thinks one qualifies and decides to pursue charges, it doesn’t mean a conviction is a sure thing. Florida residents have every right to defend themselves if charged as habitual offenders. It will be a tough fight, but legal counsel can help one achieve the best possible outcome.