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Prison

One of the unfortunate realities of being a criminal defense attorney is that, sometimes, clients are going to end up serving prison time.

Many crimes in the State of Florida carry mandatory prison sentences. Crimes such as drug trafficking and firearm crimes have mandatory prison sentences that have been established by state law.

A prison sentence can be part of a negotiated plea agreement or a sentence imposed by the court.

If sentenced to a Florida prison, you will first go to a reception center where you will be assessed and then placed in any one of Florida's many prison facilities. Prisons are located throughout the entire state. While I always ask the sentencing judge to recommend a local prison so that my clients can have frequent family visits, the court doesn't have the authority to order the Department of Corrections to place you at a particular facility. They can only make a non-binding recommendation.

You will be sent to a facility based on a number of factors. If you have serious medicial or mental health needs, you may be sent to a facility that specializes in handling those matters. If you have violent priors or have been sentenced for a violent offense, you may be sent to a maximum, or close grade, facility. If you are deemed non-violent, you may be placed in a facility that is more set up like a dormitory. This is known as community grade.

Once in prison, your classification can change depending on your behavior. If you are good, your classification may change from close (maximum) to medium. You may also apply for faith-based housing. In prison, you can take advantage of a wide array of programs, such as drug treatment, education, and job training.

The Florida Department of Corrections offers a lot of information on their website. If you have friends or family members serving prison time, you may check on their release date using the "Offender Search" link.

If you are charged with a serious crime (second-degree felony or higher), or you are charged with any felony offense and you have considerable priors, then prison is a reality you need to face. Discuss this with your attorney so you can make the right decision about whether to plea or whether to take your case to trial.