Sentencing Enhancements for Prison Releasee Reoffenders Under Florida Law

A person who commits a serious crime in Florida within three years of being released from federal or state prison and who has served time for a serious crime can be sentenced under a particularly draconian enhancement or “program,” named the prison releasee reoffender program. This program allows criminal prosecutors to seek “enhanced” or tougher punishment for repeat offenders. The prison releasee reoffender program requires mandatory minimum sentences, which often double a reoffender’s amount of time served and impose harsh minimum mandatory sentences.

Valiente, Carollo and McElligott PLLC is a Miami and South Florida criminal defense law firm experienced in assisting clients with criminal convictions in their past. If you are facing charges as a prison releasee reoffender, Valiente, Carollo and McElligott PLLC will work tirelessly to protect your freedom through our knowledgeable yet compassionate legal representation. We listen to you and fight to ensure you receive fair treatment by the system, no matter what your past looks like.

What is a Prison Releasee Reoffender?

Florida statute provides a special set of punishments for defendants classified as Prison Releasee Reoffenders (PRRs). A PRR is a defendant who: (1) commits a felony; (2) within 3 years of release from federal or state prison; (3) for a crime punishable by at least 1 year in prison in the state of Florida. PRR status applies to the sentencing of a defendant for committing one of the following felonies:

  • Treason
  • Murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Sexual Battery
  • Carjacking
  • Home-invasion robbery
  • Robbery
  • Arson
  • Kidnapping
  • 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
  • One of five other felonies involving weapons, crimes against children, or sexual misconduct

A PRR is subject to stricter minimum sentences or sentencing enhancements.

What are the Consequences of Being Sentenced as a Prison Releasee Reoffender?

If the court determines the defendant is a PRR, then the court may not sentence the defendant under the normal sentencing guidelines but must impose stricter sentences defined by statute. The Florida PRR statute creates minimum sentences for felony reoffenders. For the different levels of felonies, the required sentence increases as follows:

  • Third-degree felony — minimum 5-year sentence
  • Second-degree felony — minimum 15-year sentence
  • First-degree felony — minimum 30-year sentence
  • Life felony — life in prison sentence

For example, a defendant convicted of a third-degree felony is typically sentenced to a term of imprisonment not to exceed 5 years. However, a PRR convicted of a third-degree felony must be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of no less than 5 years.

While the court may not impose a sentence less than the statutory minimum, the court may impose a greater sentence if appropriate under the circumstances.

How is a Defendant Found to be a PRR?

The criminal court decides whether a defendant meets the requirements to be sentenced as a PRR. The criminal court makes its determination at the request of the state attorney. The state attorney may only seek to have the court sentence a defendant as a PRR after establishing by a preponderance of the evidence (meaning more likely than not) that the defendant was released from a prison sentence for a serious crime within the last three years.

Not Eligible for Parole or Early Release

A defendant sentenced as a PRR must serve one-hundred percent of the sentence required by the statute. The defendant is not eligible for parole, gain time, good behavior credit, or any other form of early release. The defendant may only be released from incarceration after the statutory sentence has expired.

Extenuating Circumstances

The Florida PRR statute provides defendants classified as PRRs must be punished to the fullest extent of the law. However, in certain circumstances, the state attorney may recognize extenuating circumstances that justify straying from the PRR sentencing enhancements. One example of an extenuating circumstance is where the victim of the crime does not wish the defendant receive the maximum sentence imposed against a PRR.

Higher Stakes Require A Skilled Defense Attorney

Florida’s PRR statute increases the stakes against defendants with a criminal history. If you served time before your most recent charges, it is important that you contact an attorney experienced in criminal law as soon as possible. Sentencing enhancements, such as a prison releasee reoffender designation, involve complicated legal matters that you should not face alone. An attorney well-versed in criminal law and sentencing guidelines can assist you in navigating the complexities of the Florida criminal statutes.

Having a dedicated advocate, such as the attorneys at Valiente, Carollo and McElligott PLLC, on your side can greatly improve the outcome of your case. Whether your case requires pre-arraignment representation, plea deal negotiations, or defense at trial, Valiente, Carollo and McElligott PLLC routinely handles a variety of criminal charges.

Our attorneys have experience navigating the unique circumstances in every case to build a successful defense. Our goal is to achieve the best possible outcome in your case through our well-thought-out defense strategy. Contact Valiente, Carollo and McElligott PLLC for assistance with your criminal case. We listen to our clients and work hard to ensure you are treated justly and fairly by the criminal justice system.