What is a Habitual Felony Offender in Florida?

The difference between misdemeanor and felony crimes is clear in most cases, but there are also special designations for those the State of Florida views as habitual offenders. In fact, the term “Habitual Felony Offender” is a specific designation in Florida law. According to the Florida Senate, a Habitual Felony Offender is a defendant that the state has previously convicted of any two or more felonies in Florida or other qualified offenses.

What defines a Habitual Felony Offender in Florida?

In order for the state to label the accused as a Habitual Felony Offender, there must be several benchmarks in place. The accused must have two prior felony convictions, and these convictions must have occurred separately both from each other and from the case the state is bringing against the accused currently.

The accused also must have committed the alleged crime within 5 years of the last felony conviction, or while serving time for another felony conviction. Additionally, the accused must have no pardons concerning the prior felony offenses. If one of the prior felony offenses relates to the purchase or possession of a controlled substance, the state may not classify the accused as a Habitual Felony Offender.

What happens if the accused meets the above requirements?

If the accused meets the above qualifications, it is possible for the State of Florida to sentence this individual under the Habitual Felony Offender status. This allows the court to sentence the accused to life in prison for a first degree or life felony. The court my also sentence Habitual Felony Offenders to up to 30 years for a second degree felony, and up to 10 years for a third degree felony.

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