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:
1. The defendant has previously been convicted of any combination of two or more felonies in this state or other qualified offenses.
2. The felony for which the defendant is to be sentenced was committed:
a. While the defendant was serving a prison sentence or other sentence, or court-ordered or lawfully imposed supervision that is imposed as a result of a prior conviction for a felony or other qualified offense; or
b. Within 5 years of the date of the conviction of the defendant’s last prior felony or other qualified offense, or within 5 years of the defendant’s release from a prison sentence, probation, community control, control release, conditional release, parole or court-ordered or lawfully imposed supervision or other sentence that is imposed as a result of a prior conviction for a felony or other qualified offense, whichever is later. 3. The felony for which the defendant is to be sentenced, and one of the two prior felony convictions, is not a violation of s. 893.13 relating to the purchase or the possession of a controlled substance.
4. The defendant has not received a pardon for any felony or other qualified offense that is necessary for the operation of this paragraph.
5. A conviction of a felony or other qualified offense necessary to the operation of this paragraph has not been set aside in any post conviction proceeding.
- 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.