In Florida, as in many jurisdictions, laws have been established regarding repeat offenders. If you have been convicted of a violent crime for the third time, you will be subject to increased penalties. These increased penalties have been created for those who are found guilty of three or more crimes that are considered violent. It is meant to act as a deterrent for those who are potentially committing more than 2 violent crimes. In most instances, the offense committed must be a felony or a violent crime to count towards the law. The three-strike rule is a baseball reference and applies to habitual offenders. The law is in place as a deterrent to repeat felony offenders. The three strike law has some restrictions in place.

Criteria for Three Strike Law

The three strike law is in place but it is limited in its use. In order to be processed under the three strike law the following criteria must be met.

  • Defendant must have been convicted of a violent felony two times prior
  • The prior convictions must have occurred on separate occasions
  • The current offense is classified as a violent felony
  • The latest offense must have occurred within a 5 year period of the completion of the prior conviction sentences
  • The defendant was not pardoned nor have any of the convictions been overturned due to appeal

Defendants who do not meet this criteria will not be processed using the three strike law. Keep in mind that not all accused will be prosecuted the same way. Each case is different and has a unique set of circumstances that may change the way it is prosecuted.

Increased Penalties

If charged with a violent felony for a third time, the penalties are increased significantly. The penalties increase based on the exact crime that was committed and other factors. Generally speaking, the fines, jail time, and probationary periods will be greatly increased if convicted of a third violent felony under the three strike law. Because Florida is a state that utilizes plea bargains, it is possible to have committed a third crime but not be processed as such. It is usually up to the discretion of the prosecutor to determine how to proceed with the charges. The potential penalties may be imposed by the judge as he sees fit. It is possible to resolve your case with a plea deal to lesser charges if the case warrants it.

Defending Felony Charges

Violent felony charges are certainly very serious whether it is the first, second, or third offense. Some of the most common violent felonies include such things as murder, robbery, kidnapping, sexual battery, and arson. If you have prior felony convictions it is important to speak to an experienced criminal attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer will review all aspects of your case to determine what the charges will be and along with that, the potential penalties that could be applied with a conviction. Many times your attorney may be able to negotiate a plea deal that could be beneficial to you. Your lawyer will work to provide the best possible defense and will represent you throughout your case.