Making the same mistake twice is frustrating and embarrassing. But when you burn some toast for the second time, all you have is twice as much burnt toast. Facing criminal charges is different, especially in Florida.
In many situations, a second, third or later arrest can bring truly extreme punishments that often leave the accused person totally stunned. Unlike a first arrest, even a second might change your life forever.
Getting serious as early as possible
First, before thinking about sentences, remember that a judge can only sentence you at the end of an often long and complex process.
Florida and federal laws say the police and courts must follow countless strict rules before they can gather evidence against you, arrest, hold, charge, try and convict you, let alone sentence you.
Your overall odds improve dramatically the better the legal help you get and the earlier in the process you get it.
Simple crimes can mean deeply complex legal problems
They give people arrested or sentenced more than once a lot of names, such as “repeat offender.” Some of the labels placed on people’s files mark them more permanently and change their lives more deeply than any tattoo ever could.
The best thing is to understand why each category might matter eventually and try to control which label the system gives you.
For example, Florida law defines repeat offenders who are convicted of different felonies that happened in certain situations in categories such as:
- Violent career criminal.
- Habitual felony offender.
- Habitual violent felony offender.
- Three-time violent felony offender.
- Prison releasee reoffender.
Fights over labels like these get intense because of the sentences judges hand down based on them.
Fights over these labels
A member of the Florida State Senate is fighting to change what happens to people given that last label, prison releasee reoffender (PRR).
One mother said to the Miami NBC station, “My son committed strongarm robbery due to a cocaine addiction when he was 19.” The boy did his time, but police arrested soon him arrest him again for armed robbery.
Because of the “enhanced sentencing” required by Florida law for the PRR category, her son is now serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Without the PRR “enhancement,” he would serve a maximum of 16 years.