Do the crime, pay the time. For a person convicted of a crime in Florida, however, the amount of time you do depends on a number of factors, including whether you have been previously convicted of a crime. In Hackley v. State, the Florida Supreme Court upholds a life sentence for a man convicted of burglary with an assault.

Lester Hackley was convicted of burglary of a conveyance with an assault in October 2006. Because he had been released from state prison less than three years earlier, the trial court sentenced him to life in prison pursuant to section 775.082, Florida Statutes, which provides for increased sentencing for a criminal defendant classified as a “prison releasee reoffender (PRR).” Only those defendants convicted of certain felonies, including murder, sexual assault, carjacking and “any felony that involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against an individual” within three years of release from prison may be treated as PRRs.

Three years later, a trial court granted Hackley’s motion to correct the sentence, agreeing with him that the burglary with assault conviction did not qualify him for PRR status. The First District Court of Appeals affirmed the decision, relying on State v. Hearns, in which the state supreme court held that battery of a law enforcement officer was not a forcible felony under the statute.

On appeal, the Florida Supreme Court overturned the First District’s decision, finding that Hackley was properly sentenced because his conviction qualified him for PRR status. Specifically, an assault under state law, involves a “threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another,” which in turn qualifies it as a forcible felony under the PRR statute, according to the court.

In Hearns, on the other hand, battery of a law enforcement officer did not qualify as a forcible felony because it could be committed without the threat or use of force: a person commits the crime simply touching a law enforcement officer against the officer’s will. “An assault – by definition – always includes the threat to do violence,” the court explained. “Battery, on the other hand, does not necessarily involve the threat or use of force or violence.”

This case is a good example of the very serious consequences of being charged with a crime in Florida. Assault, battery and burglary, for example, are serious charges and a conviction can have irreparable consequences for your life and your future.

If you are facing criminal charges in Florida, you will need the advice of a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney right away. It is essential to retain an attorney who is knowledgeable about Florida criminal law and can evaluate your particular situation, protect your rights and interests and effectively represent you in court. The South Florida criminal defense attorneys at Anidjar & Levine have defended clients throughout the state in assault, battery and burglary cases. The attorneys at Anidjar & Levine are known for aggressive, honest and effective representation on behalf of clients as well as commitment to helping clients achieve the best results possible.

Related blog posts:

Florida Court Reverses Armed Burglary Conviction for Man who Took Money from Miami CVS at Gunpoint – Ducas v. State

Court in Burglary Case Disapproves Evidence of Defendant’s Previous Crimes – Nshaka v. State

Sentencing and the Armed Career Criminal Act – U.S. v. Brown