The state of Florida has enacted a sentence enhancement which allows the court to impose an extended term of imprisonment for Habitual Felony Offenders.
In Florida statute 775.084(1)(A) a defendant qualifies as a Habitual Felony Offender (HFO) if the defendant:
- has been convicted of two or more felonies
- the current offense was committed while the defendant was incarcerated for a felony, on felony supervision or within 5 years after a felony conviction or release from state prison
- one or two priors is not an offense involving the purchase or possession of controlled substances
If the defendant qualifies as an HFO the state is required to serve a notice of enhanced penalty to the defendant.
Steven Casey Miller is the lead prosecutor in the Orange County Jeremy Dewitte cases. He has served a notice on four of the nine felony cases currently open against Jeremy Dewitte.
While Jeremy Dewitte insisted he had not been in trouble in the last 10 years when he met with Detective John Allen, Jeremy certainly had trouble in the last year.
He accepted a felony plea in 2019 for his April 2018 arrest for failing to register an online account as a sex offender. Jeremy then accepted another felony plea one month later in 2019.
These two felony pleas triggered the Habitual Felony Offender notice as felony charges continued to roll in for Jeremy Dewitte.
After a defendant receives the HFO notice the court has the discretion to impose the Habitual Felony Offender sentence if it is found the sentencing is necessary for the protection of the public.
The maximum penalties are:
- 3rd degree felonies: punishable by up to 10 years in prison instead of 5 years
- 2nd degree felonies: punishable by up to 30 years in prison instead of 15 years
- 1st degree felonies: life imprisonment instead of 30 years
The punishments are doubled under this sentence enhancement.
If Jeremy Dewitte had not pled guilty in 2019 the state would have been unable to seek this sentence enhancement.
As of March 16, 2020 four notices of intent have been filed by the state. Jeremy Dewitte has an arraignment hearing on March 17, 2020 for his remaining five felony cases.