What is a persistent felony offender?
Have you previously been charged with a felony and are now facing another? In certain circumstances, that can lead to being a labeled a “persistent felony offender,” which carries harsh penalties. Protect yourself by talking to the experienced Lexington, KY, habitual offender attorneys of the Carman Law Firm. We will examine the details of your case and use every available legal resource to get you the best possible outcome. With a military background and skills oriented for both State and Federal criminal matters, Attorney Dan Carman is particularly well suited to help you navigate the legal process. Dan provides aggressive and comprehensive criminal defense representation, and has been admitted to practice in all Kentucky state courts, the federal courts in both the Eastern and Western Districts of Kentucky, and in the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. An advocate in your corner who will thoroughly review and investigate your situation can make all the difference.
When it comes to criminal justice, recidivism is a fancy word for a fundamental concept. It refers to the tendency of a person who has already been incarcerated to reoffend after release. Since one of the ultimate goals of imprisonment is rehabilitation, it’s disheartening that many studies put the rate of relapse into criminal behavior rather high.
For example, a five-year study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) found that 68 percent of offenders were arrested for a new crime within three years of being released from state prison and 77 percent were rearrested within five years of release. Young adults, males, and African-Americans had the highest recidivism rates, and those who were incarcerated for a violent, property, or drug offense were more likely than other released inmates to be arrested for a similar type of crime. A report on inmates released from federal prisons determined that 49 percent of those released would be rearrested within eight years and 32 percent would be re-convicted. The most likely to be arrested again were those who had been convicted of crimes involving guns.
In Kentucky, those who re-commit felonies are called “persistent felony offenders” (PFO). State law KRS 532.060 contains the standard guidelines that are assessed upon a felony conviction. However, if a person who stands convicted of felony is at least 21 years old, has been convicted of a prior felony, and was at least 18 years old at the time of the previous conviction, then he or she can be assigned additional penalties under KRS 532.080 as a persistent felony offender. The felonies have to take place within certain time periods of each other. Calculating these periods can be rather complex and must be done accurately, because being labeled a PFO means receiving a longer sentence. Ways to qualify as a PFO include:
- Having been released from incarceration for a previous felony within five years of committing another felony
- Having committed a felony while on legal release (probation, parole, post-incarceration supervision, conditional discharge, conditional release, furlough, appeal bond, etc.)
- Having committed a felony while in custody for a previous felony.
There are two degrees of persistent felony offender under the statute. The main difference between PFO in the second degree and in the first degree concerns the prior felonies. Second degree PFO status only requires one previous felony. First degree PFO status requires at least two felonies OR one felony sex crime against a minor. The degree and the severity of the crime for which the person has just been convicted are the biggest influences on how much additional time is assessed. For example, a defendant who is found to be a persistent felony offender in the second degree will be sentenced to an indeterminate term of imprisonment using the standard guidelines for the next highest degree than the offense for which he or she presently stands convicted. First degree sentencing is even more convoluted and, depending on the circumstances, can carry a maximum punishment of life imprisonment without parole.
Whether you have been arrested, convicted, or both, come to the Kentucky defense attorneys at the Carman Law Firm to discuss your options. The founder and managing partner of our firm, Dan Carman, has wide-ranging experience from when he served in the United States Marine Corps as defense counsel, prosecutor, legal assistance attorney, and in-house counsel for an infantry battalion. This background gives him a valuable understanding about both sides of the legal process, which can be very beneficial to his clients.
A native of Lexington and a graduate of the University of Kentucky College of Law, Dan is dedicated to helping those throughout the state in communities such as Richmond, Winchester, Georgetown, and Nicholasville who may find themselves struggling with the Kentucky criminal justice system. Contact him today by calling (859) 685-1055 or by filling out this online contact form.