In Florida’s criminal sentencing schemes, nothing, other than a death sentence, is more draconian than the Prison Releasee Reoffender scheme delineated in Fla. Stat. 775.082(9). In sum, if a person qualifies as a Prison Releasee Reoffender, and the State Attorney seeks to sentence the defendant as such, the person must be sentenced to the maximum sentence and serve that sentence day-for-day without any possibility of early release.
What is a Prison Releasee Reoffender?
In order to be sentenced under this scheme, obviously, a person must qualify as a Prison Releasee Reoffender (“PRR” for short).
A person must be charged with one of the following felonies:
- Sexual battery;
- Home-invasion robbery;
- Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon;
- Aggravated battery;
- Aggravated stalking;
- Aircraft piracy;
- Unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb;
- Any felony that involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against an individual;
- Armed burglary;
- Burglary of a dwelling or burglary of an occupied structure; or
- Any felony violation of s. 790.07, s. 800.04, s. 827.03, s. 827.071, or s. 847.0135(5).
The person so charged must be either serving a prison sentence when the crime was committed, on escape status from a prison sentence when the crime was committed, or have been released from serving a prison sentence within 3 years of the commission of one of the felonies above.
How is a Prison Releasee Reoffender Sentenced?
If a person qualifies for PRR sentencing, it doesn’t mean that they’ll receive that sentence automatically. First, the State Attorney has to inform the court that it will be seeking a PRR sentence. Assuming that the defendant has been convicted of a qualifying crime, the State Attorney merely has to prove to the court by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not standard) that the defendant was serving a prison sentence, was on escape status from a prison sentence, or released within three years of the commission of the current crime. Once that is proven to the court, the defendant is not eligible for sentencing under the sentencing guidelines and he or she must be sentenced as follows:
- Felony Punishable by Life in Prison: Life in prison,
- First Degree Felony: 30 years in prison,
- Second Degree Felony: 15 years in prison,
- Third Degree Felony: 5 years in prison.
As referenced above, not only is the sentenced maxed out but the person sentenced as a PRR is not eligible for any form of early release. Only death or expiration of the sentence will end the sentence.
How Does a Person Avoid PRR Sentencing?
Quite frankly, there are only two ways to avoid a PRR sentence:
- Be found Not Guilty at trial, or
- Negotiate a non-PRR sentence with the Assistant State Attorney.
If the only offer from the State Attorney is a PRR sentence, you’re going to take your case to trial. There’s no downside. If you go to trial and lose, you get the same offer that the State Attorney is making before trial. Perhaps the only positive of a PRR offer is that the decision on whether to take your case to trial is a simple one. You go.
If the State Attorney does offer a non-PRR resolution to someone who qualifies as PRR, it is typically done when there are other extenuating circumstances, such as need for restitution, age of the defendant, lack of substantial criminal history, weakness in the evidence, and, most importantly, whether the victim does not want a PRR sentence. If a defendant is successful in persuading the State Attorney to make a non-PRR offer, the law requires the State Attorney to draft a memo to their file indicating why he or she did not seek a PRR sentence.
Prison Releasee Reoffender Attorney
Regardless, a PRR-eligible defendant needs a skilled attorney to either take the case to trial or to negotiate a favorable non-PRR resolution. Board certified attorney Adam Bantner is one such skilled attorney. Give him a call today at 813.397.3965 to set up your free consultation.