Florida Court Examines Career Offenders as Defined by Federal Law

The federal legislature aims to prevent people with extensive criminal histories from continuing to violate the law. Thus, they enacted statutes that allow the federal courts to impose greater penalties on career offenders. Only people convicted of certain crimes will qualify as career offenders, though, as explained in a ruling recently issued in a Florida case in which the defendant was convicted of numerous violent offenses. If you are dealing with accusations that you committed a crime of violence, it is wise to talk to a Clearwater violent crime defense attorney to assess your options for protecting your interests.

The Defendant’s Criminal History

It is alleged that when the defendant was serving a sentence in a Florida prison, he sent threatening letters to the state attorney’s office. He was subsequently charged with threatening to use weapons of mass destruction and mailing threatening communications in violation of federal law. He pleaded guilty to all charges.

It is reported that the probation office then issued a report classifying the defendant as a career offender on the grounds that he had at least two prior felony convictions for crimes of violence. Specifically, he was previously convicted of robbery, aggravated battery, and mailing threatening letters. The defendant objected to the report, arguing that only one of his prior convictions was for a violent crime and, therefore, he was not a career offender. The court overruled his objection and applied the career offender enhancement, sentencing the defendant to ten years in prison. The defendant appealed.

Career Offenders as Defined by Federal Law

On appeal, the court upheld the trial court ruling. The court explained that under the federal sentencing guidelines, a defendant is considered a career offender if they were at least eighteen years old when they committed the crime for which they are currently being sentenced, the crime is either a control substance offense or a crime of violence, and they have at least two previous convictions for drug crimes or violent offenses.

The court went on to note that crimes of violence include any offense that has an element of attempted, threatened or actual use of physical force against another individual. Physical force, in turn, is described as a violent force, in other words, a force capable of causing pain or injury. In the subject case, the defendant argued that his prior convictions constituted crimes of violence. The court disagreed, noting that there was ample case law holding that both robbery and aggravated assault were violent crimes. Thus, the court affirmed his sentence.

Meet with an Experienced Clearwater Attorney

Criminal defendants with previous violent crime convictions may face greater penalties if they are convicted than they would if they were first-time offenders. If you are charged with a violent crime, it is critical to set forth a compelling defense, and you should meet with an attorney as soon as possible. The experienced Clearwater criminal defense attorneys of Hanlon Law are proficient at obtaining favorable verdicts in criminal matters, and if you hire us, we will advocate zealously on your behalf. You can contact Hanlon Law through the online form or by calling 727-897-5413 to set up a meeting.

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