Felony Repeat Offender Team
It has long been recognized that repeat offenders commit a large number of the serious and violent crimes in Florida. One study revealed that upwards of 70% of crimes are committed by 30% of the offenders. The physical misery inflicted by these repeat offenders, and the economic impact of their crimes, are enormous. In 1988, State Attorney Norm Wolfinger created a specialized prosecution unit called the Repeat Offender Team to target repeat offenders and seek enhanced sentences for those offenders whose prior criminal record meets statutory criteria.
The Repeat Offender Team is composed of the Division Chief and seasoned trial attorneys assigned to each of the various felony prosecution divisions. The mission of this unit is to prevent future crime and thus improve public safety in Brevard and Seminole Counties by incapacitating repeat offenders who are most likely to commit violent crimes against innocent victims in the community. The unit carries out this mission by identifying, vigorously prosecuting, and seeking tougher sentences for these repeat offenders.
To assist in the early identification of repeat offenders, State Attorney's Office personnel attend daily first court appearances of all offenders at the county jail. If records indicate the offender is a repeat offender, pertinent information about the offender is presented to the initial appearance judge, enabling the judge to make an informed decision regarding the offender's bond and the need for any special conditions of release.
As an innovative and proactive expansion of the traditional role of the prosecutor, the Repeat Offender Team also identifies those offenders who have served their prison sentences and are being released back into the community. In a cooperative partnership team consisting of members from the State Attorney's Office, local law enforcement, and the local probation office, prison releasees are subject to being personally contacted and advised of the serious consequences of any further criminal activity and of community resources available to assist them in their transition back into the community.
As of January 1, 2003, a select group of career criminals are required to register their residences with law enforcement and a state registry maintained by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) called the Career Offender Application for Statewide Tracking (COAST). These offenders, by virtue of their histories of offenses, present a threat to the public and to communities. This registration law will assist law enforcement agencies in apprehending a career offender if the offender engages again in criminal conduct. The public may call FDLE toll free at 1-866-284-1108 to inquire about career offender registrants in their area.
Prison Releasee Reoffender Law
Over the years, Florida has enacted new laws to assist prosecutors in targeting repeat offenders. The law on Prison Releasee Reoffenders (an offender who commits certain criminal offenses within three years of being released from prison) requires a judge to sentence the offender to the statutory maximum upon conviction and requires that the offender serve 100% of his or her prison sentence. They receive no gaintime.
Another law is the 10-20-Life Firearms law that establishes a minimum mandatory prison sentence for certain crimes that are committed where a gun is used.