There are many times in our legal system that first-time criminal offenders are offered reduced sentences based on their lack of a prior criminal record. However, citizens who are convicted of a crime and already have a criminal record will likely face more severe punishments based on their history.
If you are convicted of a crime as a second- or third-time offender, you should expect to be subject to sentence enhancement. Sentence enhancement is the process of making a punishment larger and more intense due to a prior conviction or significant detail relating to your crime.
More About Sentence Enhancement
The majority of crimes charged in Florida carry a range of potential punishments upon conviction. A basic misdemeanor crime, for example, can carry a prison sentence as long as one year and fines as high as $1,000. It is the judge’s responsibility in each case to determine the proper punishment for the crime.
Sentence enhancements are “aggravating factors” that allow or even require the judge to prescribe a punishment or sentence that goes beyond the normal range. Prior criminal history is one of the most common “aggravating factors” that defendants face.
Examples of Enhancements
One of the most common factors leading to sentence enhancement is a history of prior convictions. This is especially true in Tampa DWI lawyer cases that add five or ten years of imprisonment to sentences for defendants with past DUI violations. In nearly any situation, if you are charged and convicted with the same crime multiple times, it is very likely that your sentence will be enhanced due to your record. In fact, according to Florida law, you can be classified as a habitual felony offender if you have been previously convicted of two or more felonies within a specific time frame.
Another factor that leads to sentence enhancement is the use of weapons during a crime. The same can be said for hate crimes and gang crimes, both of which have specific laws in place to prescribe harsher sentences.
It is very important to have an experienced and reliable criminal defense attorney tampa by your side as you receive your conviction and understand any sentence enhancements involved. The better that you understand the legal justification behind your sentencing, the better you can respond to it moving forward.