HFO (Habitual Felony Offender)
What is the HFO (Habitual Felony Offender) Statute?
HFO means Habitual Felony Offender. The HFO statute was written by the Legislature as a way to increase maximum punishment where a Defendant meets certain criteria.To qualify under HFO the statute lays out the following guidelines:
(a) “Habitual felony offender” means a defendant for whom the court may impose an extended term of imprisonment, as provided in paragraph (4)(a), if it finds that:
2. The felony for which the defendant is to be sentenced was committed:
- HFO Punishment is basically a doubling of the maximum sentence.
- Therefore, if the State seeks HFO, and you are punished under HFO you may receive up to twice the amount of time you could have been originally sentenced
- For example, let’s assume you pick up a 3rd degree felony, you qualify under HFO, you are sentenced under HFO, the maximum punishment is 10 years DOC versus 5 years DOC.
- For F2’s 15 years turns into a 30 year max, For F1’s with a 30-year punishment max, the new max is life, and of course the F3 is now a 10 year max as opposed to the original 5 year max (as demonstrated by last example).
Is HFO mandatory?
- However, HFO punishment is NOT mandatory.
- Even if you qualify under HFO, the State doesn’t have to file for HFO.
- And…even if the State does file for HFO the judge doesn’t have to sentence you under HFO.
In Sum, if you are being charged with a Felony and the State has filed on you as an HFO offender….you can received DOUBLE your original sentence….BUT it’s not mandatory.
Whenever HFO is being used you need to be incredibly careful about hiring the right lawyer. Your life is on the line, with sentencing schemes that DOUBLE the maximum sentences. It’s important to have an experienced litigant on your side from day one. You want to avoid the dangers and pitfalls of HFO.