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Being Considered a Habitual Offender Can Increase Your Prison Time

Jeff Cole
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Partner at Zimmer, Duncan & Cole

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If you have a prior felony conviction and have been charged with another felony, you could face serious consequences if you are convicted. It is likely you would be considered a habitual offender.

How Being Classified as a Habitual Offender Affects a Prison Sentence

Under South Dakota law, the court is required to impose additional sentences for habitual offenders—people who are convicted of a felony and have prior felony convictions. To be considered a habitual offender, you must be convicted of a prior felony in South Dakota, in another state, or under federal law. If this happens, your sentence could be increased as follows:

  • One or two prior felony convictions. Anyone convicted of one or two prior felonies will have his sentence increased to the next severity level. For example, a person convicted of a Class 5 felony with a prior felony conviction would have his sentence increased to a Class 4 felony, which could double his prison sentence and fines. However, his sentence could not be enhanced beyond a Class C felony, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and up to $50,000 in fines.
  • Three or more prior felony convictions with no violence. This person would have his sentence increased by two levels up to a maximum of a Class C felony.
  • Three or more prior felony convictions with violence. If a person has been convicted of a felony three or more times and one of them involved a violent crime, his sentence would automatically be increased to a Class C felony.

If you have been charged with a felony, you need to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to help build your defense and get the charges dismissed or reduced, if possible. Fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation to learn what you can expect in your criminal proceedings and how we can help you obtain the best possible outcome.


Category: Criminal Defense


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