Florida Statute Section 775.084 provides for four different sentencing enhancements:
(1)(a) Habitual Felony Offender (or "Habitual Offender," or "HO")
(1)(b) Habitual Violent Offender (HVO.)
(1)(c) Three Time Violent Felony Offender
(1)(d) Violent Career Criminal (V.C.C. or "Gort")
There are mandatory minimum sentences for HVOs, Three Time Violent Felony Offenders, and VCCs. The HO designation carries no mandatory minimum, but an accused person classified under this provision faces double the amount of time he or she would normally face if not designated an HO. For example, an HO charged with grand theft would face a maximum of ten years instead of five.
The Court has discretion not to impose a sentence under 775.084 if it finds that an enhanced sentence:
a) is not necessary for the protection of the public, and
b) the judge provides written reasons or a written transcript of orally stated reasons within 7 days of the sentencing.
If the Court declines to sentence a qualified defendant under 775.084, the Court must sentence within the guidelines. If the Court decides to sentence a defendant below his or her guidelines, the Court must find statutory mitigation in conformity with Florida Statute Section 921.0026.
The Court has discretion when it comes to sentencing a so-called "career criminal." Even mandatory minimum sentences can are said to be permissive under this section. The only "career criminal" designation that does not permit the Court to waive the mandatory minimum is the Prison Releasee Reoffender Program enhancement (PRRP).
Cases in which accused people are facing enhanced sentences due to prior convictions are treated very differently by prosecutors than other cases. In fact, the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office has a Career Criminal Division, exclusively devoted to the prosecution of HO, HVO, Three Time Violent Felony Offender, VCC, and PRRP cases.
As a former prosecutor, I handled thousands of "career criminal" cases. As a criminal defense attorney, I have handled several as well. A case where the accused is facing a sentencing enhancement requires an experienced attorney. If you or a loved one have been designated a "career criminal" or you fear that due to prior convictions, you may face sentencing enhancements, it is crucial that you ask your perspective lawyer questions about his or her experience in dealing with "career criminal" cases.
Call me to discuss your case. I handle criminal matters in Miami-Dade and Broward.