Florida Sentencing Enhancements (Pt. 1)

This is the first blog post of a series of posts about Florida’s sentencing enhancements.  In this blog, I will cover the qualifications, sentencing requirements, whether an offender is allowed gain time under the enhancement, any other additional issues or considerations about the enhancement, and finish with the excerpted statute for your reference.

Florida’s sentencing enhancements are as follows:

  • Prison Releasee Reoffender (PRR)
  • Habitual Felony Offender (HFO)
  • Habitual Violent Felony Offender (HFVO)
  • Violent Career Criminal (VCC)
  • Three Time Violent Felony Offender
  • 10/20/Life (firearm enhancements)

I will address these in turn in the series, beginning today with Prison Releasee Reoffender (PRR).  But first, a short introduction about Florida’s sentencing structure in general.

Introduction to Florida Sentencing Enhancements

The Florida Legislature has taken a tough stance on repeat criminal offenders in the State of Florida. The Legislature has determined that repeat offenders should be sentenced to enhanced penalties and has enacted several laws that require mandatory sentencing enhancements for repeat offenders. The sentencing enhancements include: Prison Releasee Reoffender; Habitual Felony Offender; Habitual Violent Felony Offender; Violent Career Criminal; Three-Time Violent Offender; and 10/20/Life. Each of these enhancement will be discussed in turn.

Before beginning the discussion of enhancements, I think it is important to understand the standard statutory maximums an offender faces if convicted of a crime:

  • For capital (life) felonies – up to life in prison
  • For first degree felonies – up to 30 years in prison
  • For second degree felonies – up to 15 years in prison
  • For third degree felonies – up to 5 years in prison

Note that these are the maximum sentences allowed by statute. These are not mandatory, required sentences. An offender’s sentence is determined by several factors, based on the Criminal Punishment Code and the “scoresheet” prepared by the State Attorney prosecuting the case. An offender’s “score” under the Criminal Punishment Code determines the minimum allowable sentence by law – up to and including the statutory maximum. (The Criminal Punishment Code and scoresheets will be covered separately in another post).

Sentencing Enhancement Designations

PRR – Prison Releasee Reoffender

Description

The Prison Releasee Reoffender (PRR) designation applies to any defendant who commits or attempts to commit certain charges listed in Florida Statute 775.082(9)(a)(1) (listed below), within 3 years after being released from a state correctional facility following incarceration for any felony offense.

Qualifications

3 requirements are needed for an offender to be designated as PRR:

  1. The state must seek to have the offender designated as PRR;
  2. The present offense is an enumerated felony (see below); and
  3. The offender committed the enumerated felony within 3 years of being released from prison, or while serving a prison sentence, or while on escape status from a prison sentence.
  • The enumerated offenses are:
    • 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 or burglary of an occupied structure; or
    • Any felony violation of:
      • 790.07, (carrying a weapon during offense)
      • s. 800.04, (lewd & lascivious offenses with victim under age of 16);
      • s. 827.03, (child abuse and neglect offenses);
      • s. 827.071, (use and promoting sexual performance by a child); or
      • s. 847.0135(5) (child pornography);

Sentencing

If the above requirements are met, the Judge has NO discretion in sentencing the offender upon conviction, and MUST sentence the offender to the statutory maximum for the committed offense. The required sentenced is as follows:

  • For a capital, life felony, mandatory sentence of life.
  • For a first degree, non-capital life, felony, mandatory sentence of 30 years.
  • For a second-degree felony, mandatory sentence of 15 years.
  • For a third-degree felony, mandatory sentence of 5 years.

Gain TIme

An offender sentenced as PRR is not eligible for good or gain time, and MUST serve the entire sentence (i.e. day-for-day).

Statute

The relevant portions of the Florida Statute are cited below:

Fl. Stat. 775.082(9)(a)3

(9)(a)

1. “Prison releasee reoffender” means any defendant who commits, or attempts to commit:

a. Treason;

b. Murder;

c. Manslaughter;

d. Sexual battery;

e. Carjacking;

f. Home-invasion robbery;

g. Robbery;

h. Arson;

i. Kidnapping;

j. Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon;

k. Aggravated battery;

l. Aggravated stalking;

m. Aircraft piracy;

n. Unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb;

o. Any felony that involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against an individual;

p. Armed burglary;

q. Burglary of a dwelling or burglary of an occupied structure; or

r. Any felony violation of s. 790.07, s. 800.04, s. 827.03, s. 827.071, or s. 847.0135(5);

within 3 years after being released from a state correctional facility operated by the Department of Corrections or a private vendor or within 3 years after being released from a correctional institution of another state, the District of Columbia, the United States, any possession or territory of the United States, or any foreign jurisdiction, following incarceration for an offense for which the sentence is punishable by more than 1 year in this state.

2. “Prison releasee reoffender” also means any defendant who commits or attempts to commit any offense listed in sub-subparagraphs (a)1.a.-r. while the defendant was serving a prison sentence or on escape status from a state correctional facility operated by the Department of Corrections or a private vendor or while the defendant was on escape status from a correctional institution of another state, the District of Columbia, the United States, any possession or territory of the United States, or any foreign jurisdiction, following incarceration for an offense for which the sentence is punishable by more than 1 year in this state.

3. If the state attorney determines that a defendant is a prison releasee reoffender as defined in subparagraph 1., the state attorney may seek to have the court sentence the defendant as a prison releasee reoffender. Upon proof from the state attorney that establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that a defendant is a prison releasee reoffender as defined in this section, such defendant is not eligible for sentencing under the sentencing guidelines and must be sentenced as follows:

a. For a felony punishable by life, by a term of imprisonment for life;

b. For a felony of the first degree, by a term of imprisonment of 30 years;

c. For a felony of the second degree, by a term of imprisonment of 15 years; and

d. For a felony of the third degree, by a term of imprisonment of 5 years.

(b) A person sentenced under paragraph (a) shall be released only by expiration of sentence and shall not be eligible for parole, control release, or any form of early release. Any person sentenced under paragraph (a) must serve 100 percent of the court-imposed sentence.

(c) Nothing in this subsection shall prevent a court from imposing a greater sentence of incarceration as authorized by law, pursuant to s. 775.084 or any other provision of law.

(d)         1. It is the intent of the Legislature that offenders previously released from prison who meet the criteria in paragraph (a) be punished to the fullest extent of the law and as provided in this subsection, unless the state attorney determines that extenuating circumstances exist which preclude the just prosecution of the offender, including whether the victim recommends that the offender not be sentenced as provided in this subsection.

2. For every case in which the offender meets the criteria in paragraph (a) and does not receive the mandatory minimum prison sentence, the state attorney must explain the sentencing deviation in writing and place such explanation in the case file maintained by the state attorney.

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