Like California and many other states, Florida has a three strikes law that aims to punish habitual offenders or those who have been convicted of three or more crimes. If you have already been convicted of two felonies, another charge could lead to elevated penalties, such as life imprisonment. Sarasota criminal defense lawyer Erika Valcarcel understands how devastating a third felony conviction can be. With experience as both a prosecutor and a defender, she can anticipate the prosecution’s strategy in order to craft the best possible defense. Do not risk your rights and freedom.

Call (941) 363-7900 today to see how your charges can be reduced or eliminated, if possible.

What Is the Three Strikes Law in Florida?

According to Florida Statutes, the three strikes law leads to elevated penalties for those who have committed three or more violent felony in Florida. This law applies to felony offenders. It can feel like “three strikes and you’re out.”

Florida’s three strikes law is used to impose maximum prison sentences to individuals convicted of their third violent felony. The goal is to prevent habitual offenders from committing additional serious crimes as a third strike. Offenses that qualify as violent felonies, and can, therefore, be listed as a strike, include, but are not limited to:

The three strikes law is one that targets so-called “career criminals” or three-time offenders. It requires that judges assign mandatory minimum sentences to those who have been convicted of at least three violent felonies. These terms range from 5 years to a life sentence in prison and depend on the severity of the crime. The mandatory minimum sentence imposed for a first-degree felony, for example, is 30 years in state prison.

What is a Habitual Offender?

In order to face the elevated penalties of the three strikes law, an individual must be labeled as a habitual offender. The following criteria must be met in order for this to occur:

  • The person must have been convicted of two violent felonies in the past (not misdemeanors)
  • The convictions must have taken place on two separate occasions
  • The current crime must be a violent felony
  • The current crime must have been committed within 5 years of serving time for another conviction
  • The individual has not been pardoned for a past violent felony

Once these elements have been established, the judge is obligated to assign the mandatory minimum sentence for the crime, even if they would have otherwise been inclined to grant leniency. Violent offenders with prior felonies are targeted by this sentencing law.

How the Sarasota Criminal Defense Attorneys at Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. Can Protect Your Freedom

Since the penalties for a third violent felony are so severe, it is imperative to seek the help of an experienced attorney. A lawyer can evaluate your situation and choose the defense that will be most beneficial for your case. One effective strategy is pointing out rights violations. Perhaps law enforcement abused you during your arrest, or maybe you were not read your Miranda rights. There are a number of procedural violations that can lead to your charges being thrown out. It might also be the case that you are a victim of mistaken identity. Eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable, and it is entirely possible that you were falsely identified as the perpetrator.

Being labeled as a habitual offender can have a negative impact on every aspect of life. Your family might not be able to survive if you are sent to prison, and finding a job once you are released might be all but impossible. Sarasota criminal defense attorney Erika Valcarcel of Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. realizes that the three strikes law imposes penalties that are harsh and unfair. She believes the best way to beat your serious felony charge is through listening to your side of the story. Once all of the details are gathered, your case can be presented in the best possible light.

Protect your freedom and our rights by calling (941) 363-7900 now for a free and confidential consultation.