Florida, just like the rest of the United States, sentences criminal defendants to prison at an exponentially higher rate than every other country on the planet. The only country with an incarceration rate that is even close to ours is El Salvador. El Salvador, however, has a prison population of 38,000 compared to the US prison population of 2,121,000. Florida alone has more prisoners, 150,000, than all but 12 countries. The only country with a prison population of more than 1,000,000 is China. Yet China has a population of 1.5 billion people while the United States has a mere 300 million. Just a cursory look at those statistics says that there is something seriously wrong with our criminal “justice” system.
Florida is among the States with the stiffest sentencing laws in the Union. Decades of “tough on crime” politicians in both parties throughout the state have pushed sentencing away from the thoughtful, reasoned hands of our Judges and Juries and into the hands of the legislature. Florida’s scoresheet system uses a ridiculous mathematical calculation to assign points to different criminal offenses that add up to determine if someone scores mandatory prison. This system takes away the discretion of judges and places the power in the hands of the State Attorneys who often have little motivation to do the right thing. If you are facing criminal charges in Florida, you should consult with a skilled Sarasota criminal defense lawyer immediately to fully understand your options.10-20-Life
One of the most well known sentencing enhancements in Florida is our 10-20-Life law. Under Florida Statute 775.087, Florida enhances the offense level of any crime committed where a firearm is possessed. For example, if someone is accused of a grand theft—typically a third degree felony—but is shown to have been in possession of a firearm, the charge is upgraded to a second degree felony punishable by up to fifteen years in prison. For second degree felonies, a firearm enhancement will result in a first degree felony charge. And for cases that are already first degree felonies, the offense will be upgraded to a life felony.
10-20-life gets its moniker from the harsh mandatory minimums that are associated with it. For many felony offenses, if the state proves that the defendant was in possession of a firearm at the time of the offense, a 10 year minimum mandatory prison sentence can be imposed. In a situation where the firearm was discharged, a 20 year mandatory minimum is required. And finally, if someone is struck by a projectile from a firearm, the defendant faces a mandatory life sentence. These penalties are harsh and non-negotiable. In order to avoid these significant problems, you should retain a dedicated Sarasota criminal defense lawyer.Prison Releasee Reoffender
Another common sentencing enhancement arises from Florida Statute 775.084. Under the law, people who commit certain felony offenses within three years of being released from prison or parole can be labelled as prison releasee reoffenders. A PRR designation is one of the most severe enhancements that can be levied against a defendant. If you are convicted of an offense as a prison releasee reoffender, the maximum penalty in your case becomes the minimum penalty. So someone convicted of a third degree grand theft under the PRR statute will be facing a mandatory minimum five year prison sentence. Sentencing enhancements give the State extra power over your case and make it more difficult to achieve the goals you desire. Hire a skilled Sarasota criminal defense lawyer to take away the State’s advantage.Speak to Our Lawyers Today
The attorneys at Hanlon Law have years of experience defending clients charged with serious criminal offenses facing stiff sentencing enhancements. We take the futures of our clients very seriously and will fight to achieve the best results for you. Call today for a consultation at 941-462-1789.