In the 90s we heard a lot about the 3 strikes law and how it was sending so many people to life in prison without chance of parole. The 3 strikes law in California was just one of the more famous habitual offender laws in the country.
The truth is most states do still have habitual offender laws, even though California has changed its 3 strikes law.
What is a Habitual Offender Law?
The idea behind this law is that we should punish people who keep breaking the same laws more harshly, sometimes in the extreme. The idea is that it would keep others from following suit after they have served time for one crime: to send out the idea that you’re better off cleaning up your act in any way you can after you do time than going back to prison for the rest of your life.
Under Section 333.7413 of the Michigan Public Health Code, for example, if you are convicted of a drug offense for a second time you can be sentenced up to twice as long of a sentence as the original offense allows.
Some repeat offenses can still result in an automatic life sentence. In addition, many of these life sentences are drug-related and nonviolent. They are a hold-over from the war on drug era in the United States.
For instance, distribution or manufacture of more than 50 grams of a Schedule 1 or Schedule 2 narcotic carries a penalty of no more than 20 years in prison for a first-time offense.
The second offense is an automatic life sentence without possibility of parole or probation.
Furthermore, the judge and jury have no say over that sentence. It’s extremely final and harsh. For lesser drug crimes, a judge and jury could potentially opt not to sentence a second-time offender with an enhanced sentence.
In other words, “habitual offender” is not a crime in and of itself, but it affects your sentencing.
According to the Code of Criminal Procedure (769.10), if a person is convicted of a felony or attempted felony and commits another felony in the state of Michigan, he or she will be subject to enhanced sentencing.
You could be facing a 25% increase on the max sentence for your second offense and a 50% increase for your third, depending on the crime for which you have been convicted.
A fourth offense could double your max sentence. Without a skilled defense team, you will be in the hands of those seeking the maximum possible sentence for your crime.
Before the trial, if the prosecutor is seeking an enhanced sentence, he or she has to file a notice listing your prior convictions.
A good defense team will do everything in our power to challenge that filing and keep you from habitual offender status. It’s obvious by now that habitual offender status could be very damaging to your life.
Habitual offender status is very serious. If you are facing second or third felony charges in the State of Michigan, call us today. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side is critical.