Most people facing DUI charges are terrified because it’s the first time they’ve ever become entangled in the criminal justice system.
Not so for a 29-year-old Florida woman, whose recent DUI arrest is her 19th since she became an adult.
Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys know that cases such as this require a special level of skill. Of course, each case is to be decided based on its own facts and merits, but the problem is that someone with such an extensive history doesn’t elicit much sympathy from the court. What’s more, enhanced sentencing laws are such that arrests for even relatively minor crimes can be met with harsh penalties.
We don’t know what this defendant’s prior crimes were, but if she was convicted of prior felonies, she could be classified as a habitual felony offender under Florida Statute 775.084. This statutes specifies that someone may receive this classification if:
1. He or she has been convicted of any combination of two or more felonies in the state;
2. The felony for which the defendant is currently being sentenced occurred either while in prison on a previous felony offense or while the person was on parole or probation;
3. The previous felony conviction happened within five years of the most recent charge or within five years of the individual’s release from community control or supervision.
This classification does not require that the previous felony convictions were for violent offenses (that is a different classification).
Habitual felony offenders face sentences that are effectively doubled. So if you are convicted of a third-degree felony, which carries a 5-year maximum sentence, you would be facing a 10-year maximum as a habitual offender.
Similarly, if you were convicted of a second-degree felony, which normally carries a 15-year maximum, you would instead be facing a 30-year maximum.
That’s why it’s so important for someone with prior convictions facing new felony charges to secure an experienced attorney. The key will be, if possible, working to negotiate lesser charges or fewer of them.
In this case, the defendant was pulled over in Charlotte County for reportedly driving erratically. The deputy reportedly recognized her from previous encounters, and knew that she had a suspended license. She declined to participate in any field sobriety tests and also refused to be searched by the deputy at the time of arrest.
As she was being processed at the jail, she was asked whether she had anything illegal on her. She replied no. However, in the course of conducting a search prior to her intake, deputies found about 24 Xanax pills.
She was subsequently charged with DUI, driving under a suspended license, resisting an officer, possession of Xanax and introduction of contraband into a county jail. That last one is a third-degree felony, as defined in Florida Statute 951.22.
In her mug shot, she displays a breezy smile. It may be time to get serious about building a strong defense.
If you’ve been arrested, call Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. The Ansara Law Firm serves Broward, Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Deputies: Woman busted for DUI also smuggled almost 30 Xanax pills into jail, Sept. 20, 2012, By Barbara Hijek, Sun Sentinel
More Blog Entries:
Florida DUI Cases Tossed After Checkpoint Deemed Illegal, Aug. 30, 2012, Fort Lauderdale DUI Lawyer Blog