Florida’s Harsh Laws For Repeat Offenders
When facing any type of criminal charges in Pinellas County, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side to protect you against potentially harsh penalties. This is particularly true if you have any past convictions. Florida law has two and three strike laws, which could land you with a mandatory life sentence, regardless of the crime.
Two Strike Law Creates Controversy In Florida
A local paper recently called attention to a controversial case in which a St. Petersburg man received a life sentence after being convicted of a robbery offense. According to a November 11, 2021 Tampa Bay Times report, the 46-year-old is one of more than 2,000 Florida prisoners serving life sentences without parole under the state’s ‘two strikes’ policy.
Established in 1997, the law provides life sentences for ‘prison releasee reoffenders’, specifically anyone convicted of a crime within three years of being released from prison. The following are details surrounding this particular case:
- The man in question was convicted of a robbery when he was 16 and spent 21 days in a juvenile lockup.
- While there, he missed a court date, was arrested for failure to appear, brought back to Pinellas County, tried as an adult on the robbery charge, and received a four-year prison sentence.
- He got out at 20 and began hanging with the wrong crowd again.
- At 22, he was arrested and charged with armed robbery. He maintained his innocence but did not get legal help, opting to represent himself in court.
He ended up being convicted again. While the victim was uninjured, the fact that the alleged crime occurred within three years of his release resulted in a life sentence under the ‘two strikes’ rule. In his time at Hardee Correctional Institution, about 45 minutes south of Tampa, he has watched numerous people convicted of murder and violent assaults be released ahead of him. Under the terms of the law, a judge or parole board are unable to modify his sentence, even if they wanted to.
Florida’s Three Strike Law
Mandatory minimum life sentences under the ‘two strikes’ law create controversy as they fail to factor in the circumstances surrounding the alleged crime and typically impact black and low income prisoners disproportionately. A similar type of policy is the state’s ‘three strikes’ rule. Under the Florida Statutes, you can face a mandatory life sentence in the following situations:
- If you have two prior violent felony convictions;
- If your current charges are for murder, rape, assault, or other violent felony;
- If the offense occurs within five years of being convicted or after release from prison.
Let Us Help You Today
Florida has tough policies regarding repeat offenders. To prevent a first conviction that could be used against you in the future or a mandatory life sentence if you were previously convicted of a crime, get Reep Coleman & Stubbendorff on your side. Call or contact our Seminole criminal defense online and request a consultation right away.