It’s Easier Than You Think For Florida To Send Defendants To Prison For Life Without Parole
As scary as it is when a judge pronounces your sentence at a sentencing hearing, especially when that sentence involves prison time, the sentence is not set in stone. Defendants convicted in criminal court have the right to appeal their sentences and their convictions. During your sentence, you have the right to move your release date earlier by earning time off for good behavior. For every month that goes by without any infractions, you can earn ten days off of your sentence. This means that, if you were originally sentenced to five years in prison, which is 60 months, and you stay out of trouble the entire time, you could be released as early as three years and four months into your sentence. Of course, this does not help you if you have been sentenced to life in prison, and in Florida, it is easier for prosecutors to seek a life sentence than in many other states. To find out more about how to avoid the risk of getting a life sentence for a non-lethal or nonviolent crime, contact a Tampa criminal lawyer.
What Is Parole and Why Doesn’t Florida Have It?
Most states have a parole system, where eligible defendants who have served part of their prison sentences can petition the parole board to allow them to serve the rest of their sentences out in the community. Being on parole is a lot like being on probation, except that the supervision is even more intensive. If you violate the terms of your probation, you must return to prison and serve the remainder of your sentence there. In some states, defendants who are serving life sentences for crimes other than murder automatically become eligible for parole after serving 15 years.
Florida abolished parole in the 1980s, and it is now one of 16 states with no parole system. Florida lawmakers determined that releasing defendants on parole did not help them stay on the right side of the law, and many returned to prison. Many Floridians would like to see a return to the parole system, as it costs about ten times as much in taxpayer funds to incarcerate one person for one day as it does to supervise one person on parole for one day.
A Life Sentence Without Parole Is Only Two Guilty Verdicts Away
To make matters worse, Florida has a two strikes law. Some states have a three strikes law, where there is a mandatory life sentence if you get three felony convictions, even if they are all for nonviolent offenses. In Florida, prosecutors can seek a life sentence after two felony convictions, and given the lack of parole, a life sentence means a life sentence spent entirely behind bars. Therefore, it is in your interest to hire a criminal defense lawyer to fight your charges if you are being accused of a felony, even a nonviolent one.
Contact Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney Bryant Scriven
A criminal defense lawyer can help you avoid convictions that carry draconian punishments. Contact Scriven Law in Tampa, Florida to schedule a consultation.