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What is a "Prison Releasee Reoffender" in Florida?

Some individuals seem to enjoy spending time in prison, as they exit the Department of Corrections only to quickly re-enter the system. For those who look at the system as a revolving door, the “Prison Releasee Reoffender” statute will help put your mind at ease. Under Florida Statute 775.082(9), a “Prison Releasee Reoffender” is defined as an individual who has been out of the Department of Corrections for less than three years and subsequently commits any of the enumerated offenses listed in the statute itself, such as murder, manslaughter, car-jacking, sexual battery, robbery, armed burglary, kidnapping, aggravated stalking, home-invasion robbery, burglary of a dwelling or occupied structure, or other certain enumerated offenses.

An individual who meets the definition of “Prison Releasee Reoffender,” and who subsequently commits one of the enumerated offenses listed within the statute during the three year time period following release from prison, is required to receive the maximum punishment provided by law for the new offense committed. For example, if a person is released from the Department of Corrections, and in less than three years the person commits car-jacking with a firearm, the individual must receive a life sentence for the new car-jacking with a firearm offense, as car-jacking with a firearm is punishable by up to life in prison. Thus, with the person being a “Prison Releasee Reoffender,” the Court is required to enter the maximum punishment allowed by law for the new offense, which in this circumstance is life.

That being said, “Prison Releasee Reoffender” is more commonly used as a negotiating tool to enable a harsher plea agreement, as prosecutors will often threaten to pursue the “Prison Releasee Reoffender” status if the Defendant chooses to move forward with a jury trial. Knowing such a harsh reality awaits the Defendant if convicted at jury trial, the Defendant will often accept the more reasonable plea offer and move on with his or her life. Even if the offense is not a life offense, the “Prison Releasee Reoffender” statute, if enforced, will require the Defendant to serve the full length of whatever the maximum punishment actually is, such as the full 30-years if the subsequent newly committed criminal offense is a non-life First Degree Felony. No gain time, no early release, and no parole, as the sentence imposed is a day-for-day sentence.

Florida’s “Prison Releasee Reoffender” statute makes the stakes even that much higher for repeat offenders. This statute is only one of a number of sentencing enhancements which are available to prosecutors in Florida. If you, or someone you know, is a repeat offender, or charged with a crime which has an applicable sentencing enhancement, contact my office immediately to discuss how “Prison Releasee Reoffender,” as well as other sentencing enhancements, may affect the outcome of the case. Through proper negotiations and discovery, you may be able to avoid suffering the consequences of the enhancement.