Florida Court Explains Violent Career Criminal Sentencing Enhancements

Florida courts generally use sentencing guidelines when determining what constitutes an appropriate penalty for a criminal conviction. The courts have discretion with regard to sentencing in some instances, however. For example, if they deem a defendant a violent career criminal, they can impose sentencing enhancement. They can only do so in cases in which the defendant meets the criteria to qualify as a violent criminal, however. In a recent Florida ruling, a court discussed whether the crime of battery on a person over the age of 65 is a qualifying offense, ultimately ruling that it is not. If you are charged with battery or any other violent crime, it is smart to talk to a Tampa violent crime defense lawyer about your potential defenses.

History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with and convicted of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, which was a felony. During sentencing, the judge determined that the defendant met the criteria to be sentenced as a violent career criminal due to his prior convictions for aggravated assault and battery of a person over the age of 65. Pertinent to the subject case, the sentencing judge found that the crime of battery of a person over the age of 65 constituted a qualifying offense because it was a felony battery. He then sentenced the defendant to fifteen years in prison. The defendant appealed

Violent Career Criminal Sentencing Enhancements

On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court erred in deeming him a violent career criminal because the offense of battery on a person over the age of 65 was not a forcible felony for purposes of violent career criminal sentencing. The state did not disagree with the defendant’s argument. Instead, it acknowledged a prior ruling issued by the Florida Supreme Court in which battery crimes that did not necessarily involve violence or physical force could not be considered forceable felonies.

Further, the court noted that it had previously held that battery on a person over the age of 65 was not a forcible felony for other purposes. The court explained that the analyses relied on in other cases was appropriate in the subject case as well, in that the crime in question did not necessarily involve force or a physical touching, As such, it could not be a crime of violence or support the defendant’s sentence as a violent career criminal.

Talk to a Skilled Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney

A conviction for a violent crime not only may result in a significant sentence, but it may also be grounds for imposing a greater sentence for a subsequent conviction. If you are charged with a violent offense, it is in your best interest to talk to an attorney about your options. The skilled Tampa lawyers of Hanlon Law can assess the facts of your case and gather the evidence needed to provide you with a strong chance of a favorable outcome. You can contact Hanlon Law via the form online or at 813-228-7095 to set up a consultation.