If you are charged with a crime in Florida, you should understand the statutory penalties that might apply. The statutory penalties refer to the minimum and maximum sentence the court can impose if you are convicted of the crime.
The statutory penalties depend on a variety of factors including:
- whether the crime is a felony or a misdemeanor;
- the degree of the felony or misdemeanor charge;
- any minimum or mandatory maximum terms that apply to the charge; and
- the guideline range that applies.
To help first offenders avoid some of these harsh penalties for lower-level offenses, the State Attorney’s Office has created felony and misdemeanor diversion programs including:
- adult pre-arrest diversion APAD;
- felony pre-trial intervention PTI;
- domestic violence pre-trial intervention DVPI;
- misdemeanor intervention program MIP; and
- DUI diversion program called RIDR.
Attorneys for Statutory Penalties in Florida
This article summarizes Florida’s Statutory Enhanced Penalties. The summary is provided for general informational purposes only.
The law is constantly changing and evolving. Do not rely on the information contained in this chart because it is intended as a starting point for further research.
For more information on statutory enhanced penalties under Florida law, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.
The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm represent clients throughout Tampa, Hillsborough County, Florida, and the surrounding areas of Tampa Bay.
|Habitual Felony Offender (HFO)1||Habitual Violent Felony Offender (HVFO)2||Violent Career Criminal (VCC) 3||Prison Releasee Reoffender (PRR)4||Three Strikes Violent Felony5|
|Life Felony||Life||Life, not eligible for release for 15 yrs||Life, Not eligible for early release||Life, no parole, must serve 100%||Life, man min with no parole|
|1st Degree Felony||Life||Life, not eligible for release for 15 yrs||Life, Not eligible for early release||30 years, no parole, must serve 100%||30 yrs, man min with no parole, must serve 100%|
|2nd Degree Felony||Up to 30 yrs||Up to 30 yrs, not eligible for release for 10 yrs||Up to 40 yrs, with 30 year min/man *no early release||15 years, no parole, must serve 100%||15 yrs, man min with no parole, must serve 100%|
|3rd Degree Felony||Up to 10 yrs||Up to 30 yrs, not eligible for release for 10 yrs||Up to 15 yrs, with 10 year min/man *no early release||5 years, no parole, must serve 100%|
1HFO – Habitual Felony Offender under Florida Statute 775.084 – Sentence is discretionary. Eligible for gain time.
2HVFO – Habitual Violent Felony Offender under Florida Statute 775.084 – Sentence is discretionary. Part of the sentence may be eligible for gain time.
3VCC – Violent Career Criminal – Sentence is mandatory unless the state attorney determines extenuating circumstances.
4Three Strikes – Sentence is mandatory.
Habitual Felony Offender under Section 775.084(1)(a)
The court must find three things before making a determination that the defendant qualifies for the enhanced sentencing provisions as an HFO including:
- Previous separate convictions, not pardoned or set aside in post-conviction proceedings, or any combination of two (2) or more felonies, in the state of Florida, or other qualified offenses.
- Felony for which Defendant is to be sentenced was committed under the following circumstances:
- While in prison or other commitment or supervision for a prior conviction of a felony or other qualified offense; or
- Within five (5) years of date of prior felony or other qualified offense conviction or within five (5) years of release from prison, supervision, control release, conditional release, parole, or other commitment for prior felony or other qualified offense whichever is later.
- Felony for which Defendant is to be sentenced and one of the two prior felony convictions is not a violation of Florida Statute Section 893.13 relating to purchase or possession of a controlled substance.
Habitual Violent Felony Offender under Section 775.084(1)(b)
The court must find three things before making a determination that the defendant qualifies for enhanced sentencing provisions as a HVFO including:
- Previous separate convictions, not pardoned on the grounds of innocence or set aside in post-conviction proceedings, for a felony, attempt to commit a felony, or conspiracy to commit a felony and one or more of such convictions were for:
- Sexual Battery;
- Aggravated Child Abuse;
- Aggravated Abuse of Elderly or Disable Adult;
- Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon;
- Unlawful throw, place or discharge of a destructive device or bomb;
- Armed Burglary;
- Aggravated Battery; or
- Aggravated Stalking.
- The felony for which Defendant is to be sentenced was committed under the following circumstances:
- While in prison or other commitment or supervision for a prior conviction for an enumerated felony; or
- Within 5 years of the date of conviction of last prior enumerated felony, or within five (5) years of release from a prison sentence, supervision, control release, conditional release, parole, or other commitment imposed for a prior conviction for an enumerated felony, whichever is later.
Violent Career Criminal in Florida
If you qualify as a Violent Career Criminal (often called “VCC”) then the State may file a notice to enhance your sentence pursuant to the Violent Career Criminal Law.
By entering a plea to such an offense after receiving the notice, you are agreeing that you meet the requirements to be sentenced as a Violent Career Criminal and will be sentenced under that law.
The VCC requirements include the following:
- You have previously been convicted as an adult three or more times for an offense in this state or like offense in another jurisdiction that is:
- Aggravated child abuse;
- Aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult;
- Lewd, lascivious or indecent conduct;
- A felony violation of Chapter 790 involving the use or possession of a firearm; or
- A forcible felony that is:
- aggravated stalking;
- aggravated battery;
- aggravated assault;
- unlawful throwing, placing or discharging of a destructive device or bomb;
- aircraft piracy;
- home invasion robbery;
- sexual battery;
- treason; or
- any other felony which involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any individual.
- You have previously been incarcerated in a state or federal prison.
- The primary felony offense for which you are being sentenced is a felony enumerated in subsection 1 above and was committed on or after October 1, 1995, and while you were serving a prison sentence or other commitment imposed as a result of a prior enumerated felony on your last conviction (including a withholding of adjudication of guilt) for an enumerated felony or your release from a prison sentence or other commitment imposed within the last five (5) years.
- You have not received a pardon for any felony or other qualified offense that is necessary for the imposition of a Violent Career Criminal Sentence.
- The conviction for the felony or other qualified offense necessary for the imposition of a Violent Career Criminal Sentence has not been set aside in any post conviction proceeding. If the Court classifies you as a Violent Career Criminal, then the Court shall sentence you as follows:
- In the case of a felony of the third degree, for a term of years not exceeding 15, with a mandatory minimum of 10 years’ imprisonment;
- In the case of a felony of the second degree, for a term of years not exceeding 40, with a mandatory minimum of 30 years’ imprisonment;
- In the case of a life felony or a felony of the first degree, for life.
Reclassification Statutes for Florida Penalties
The Florida Statutes contain several provisions that permit the felony degree of an offense to increase to the next higher degree. For example, a third-degree felony can be reclassified as a second-degree felony. The reclassification of a felony increases the maximum penalty that may be imposed for the offense.
Since the maximum penalty for a third degree felony is 5 years incarceration in state prison and a fine of up to $5,000 and the maximum penalty for a second degree felony is 15 years’ incarceration in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000, when a third-degree felony is reclassified to a second degree felony, the maximum penalty that may be imposed increases from 5 to 15 years in state prison and the fine from $5,000 to $10,000.
For some Florida statutes, the enhancement is based upon the defendant’s actions while in other statutes the enhancement is based upon the classification of the victim.
Florida’s “hate crimes” statute, s. 775.085, F.S., for example, reclassifies the degree of a misdemeanor or felony if the commission of the offense “evidences prejudice based on the race, color, ancestry, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, homeless status or advanced age of the victim.”
On the other hand, under s. 784.07 F.S., dealing with assault or battery of a law enforcement officer or other specified officers, the offense is reclassified if the offense was committed upon the officer while he or she was engaged in the lawful performance of his or her duties.
Many statutes in Florida that reclassify offenses also require that, for sentencing purposes and determining gain time eligibility, the reclassified felony will be ranked one level above the ranking specified in the Criminal Punishment Code Offense Severity Ranking Chart.
Under this reclassification procedure, more points are assigned on the Offense Score of the Criminal Punishment Code Worksheet. The higher points will likely result in the offender receiving a longer prison sentence.
Florida Law on Vindictive Sentencing
What happens if the trial court imposes a vindictive sentence? Vindictive sentencing is more obvious when the trial court participates in plea negotiations and makes a court offer.
When a claim of vindictive sentencing is raised, the reviewing court must examine all of the surrounding circumstances. Williams v. State, 225 So. 3d 349, 356 (Fla. 3d DCA 2017).
In Vardaman v. State, 63 So. 3d 925, 927 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011), the court listed the factors to determine whether vindictive sentencing occurred include:
- whether the trial judge initiated plea discussions;
- whether the trial judge appeared to have departed from his role as an impartial arbiter by either urging the defendant to accept a plea or implying or stating that the sentence would hinge on future procedural choices like going to trial;
- the disparity between the plea offer and the ultimate sentence; and
- the lack of any facts on the record that explain the reason for an increased sentence other than that the defendant exercised his right to a trial.
- [36 Fla. L. Weekly D1405a].
A presumption of vindictiveness arises where there is a “reasonable likelihood” that the increase is the result of actual vindictiveness on the part of the sentencing authority. Evans v. State, 280 So. 3d 511, 514 (Fla. 2d DCA 2019).
Disclaimer: This summary does not explain every important aspect of Florida’s Statutory Enhanced Penalties. Instead, the summary is intended to provide general information that might act as a starting point for additional research. Contact a criminal defense attorney to discuss the particular facts of your case and the potential punishments and penalties.
This article was last updated on Friday, July 16, 2021.