Lamont v. State, Nos. 89-2917

CourtCourt of Appeal of Florida (US)
Writing for the CourtBefore SCHWARTZ; LEVY; SCHWARTZ; HUBBART
Citation597 So.2d 823
Parties17 Fla. L. Weekly D507 Andre Henry LAMONT, Appellant, v. The STATE of Florida, Appellee. James BROOKS, Appellant, v. The STATE of Florida, Appellee.
Docket Number90-1419,Nos. 89-2917
Decision Date18 February 1992

Page 823

597 So.2d 823
17 Fla. L. Weekly D507
Andre Henry LAMONT, Appellant,
v.
The STATE of Florida, Appellee.
James BROOKS, Appellant,
v.
The STATE of Florida, Appellee.
Nos. 89-2917, 90-1419.
District Court of Appeal of Florida,
Third District.
Feb. 18, 1992.
As Clarified April 28, 1992.

Page 824

Bennett H. Brummer, Public Defender, and Bruce A. Rosenthal and Valerie Jonas, Asst. Public Defenders, for appellants.

Robert A. Butterworth, Atty. Gen., and Katherine B. Johnson, and Roberta G. Mandel, Asst. Attys. Gen., for appellee.

Before SCHWARTZ, C.J., and BARKDULL, HUBBART, NESBITT, BASKIN, FERGUSON, JORGENSON, COPE, LEVY, GERSTEN and GODERICH, JJ.

EN BANC

LEVY, Judge.

These cases were set for hearing en banc to determine whether the sentencing provisions of the habitual felony offender statute, Section 775.084, Florida Statutes (1989) [hereafter the "Act"], apply to life felonies. We conclude that the habitual offender statute is applicable to defendants convicted of life felonies and, thus, the defendants in the instant cases were properly sentenced as habitual felony offenders.

James Edwards Brooks and Andre Henry Lamont, the defendants, were both sentenced as habitual felony offenders after being found guilty of life felonies. Defendant Brooks was convicted of second degree murder pursuant to Section 782.04(2), Florida Statutes (1989), a first degree felony, which was reclassified to a life felony, pursuant to Section 775.087, Florida Statutes (1989), because the defendant used a firearm during the commission of the murder. 1 The trial court found the defendant to be a habitual violent felony offender, and sentenced him to life in prison without eligibility for release for fifteen years under Section 775.084(4), Florida Statutes (1989). Brooks was also convicted for improper exhibition of a firearm pursuant to Section 790.10, Florida Statutes (1989), and sentenced to one year to run concurrent with the life sentence.

Defendant Lamont was convicted of sexual battery with a firearm pursuant to Section 794.011(3), Florida Statutes (1989), a life felony; burglary of an occupied dwelling with a firearm pursuant to Section 810.02(2)(b), Florida Statutes (1989), a first-degree felony punishable by a terms of years not exceeding life imprisonment; and kidnapping with a firearm pursuant to Section 787.01(2), Florida Statutes (1989), a first-degree felony, which was reclassified to a life felony under Section 775.087(1)(a), Florida Statutes (1989), because Lamont used a firearm in the commission of the kidnapping. 2

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2] Lamont was sentenced as a habitual felony offender under Section 775.084(4)(a) to life imprisonment on the sexual battery and kidnapping charges, with a fifteen year habitual mandatory minimum and a three-year firearm mandatory minimum on each of those counts. Lamont received a consecutive life sentence with fifteen years mandatory minimum on the armed burglary, assault and battery count. Both defendants argue, inter alia, that the habitual felony offender statute, in its entirety, is inapplicable to life felonies. In essence, they base their argument on the fact that two particular subsections of the Act, to-wit: (4)(a) and (4)(b), fail to make reference to persons convicted of life felonies.

Section 775.084, Florida Statutes (1989), provides for extended prison sentences for convicted felons who have incurred predicate prior felony convictions within prescribed intervals.

A "habitual felony offender" has incurred two or more prior felony convictions, none of which has been pardoned or otherwise set aside, and the last of which was imposed, or resulted in release from prison, within five years of the subject conviction. Sec. 775.084(1)(a), Fla.Stat. (1989). Section 775.084(4)(a) of the Act provides for sentencing the habitual felony offender for the subject conviction, as follows:

1. In the case of a felony of the first degree, for life.

2. In the case of a felony of the second degree, for a term of years not exceeding 30.

3. In the case of a felony of the third degree, for a term of years not exceeding 10.

A "habitual violent felony offender" under the Act has incurred one or more enumerated violent felony convictions, none of which has been pardoned or otherwise set aside, and the last of which was imposed, or resulted in release from prison, within five years of the subject conviction. Sec. 775.084(1)(b), Fla.Stat. (1989). Section 775.084(4)(b) provides for sentencing the habitual violent felony offender as follows:

1. In the case of a felony of the first degree, for life, and such offender shall not be eligible for release for 15 years.

2. In the case of a felony of the second degree, for a term of years not exceeding 30, and such offender shall not be eligible for release for 10 years.

3. In the case of a felony of the third degree, for a term of years not exceeding 10, and such offender shall not be eligible for release for 5 years.

The defendants argue that because these two particular subsections of the Act, (4)(a) and (4)(b), do not specifically provide for enhanced sentencing where the subject conviction is a life felony, the Act, as a whole, does not apply to life felonies. We find this argument unpersuasive for the following reasons.

First, we find the interpretation urged by the defense to be contrary to legislative intent. It is a fundamental principle of statutory construction that statutes will not be interpreted in such a manner as to lead to an unreasonable or ridiculous result or a result obviously not intended by the legislature. Drury v. Harding, 461 So.2d 104 (Fla.1984); McKibben v. Mallory, 293 So.2d 48 (Fla.1974); Allied Fidelity Ins. Co. v. State, 415 So.2d 109 (Fla. 3d DCA 1982); Palm Springs General Hospital, Inc. of Hialeah v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., 218 So.2d 793 (Fla. 3d DCA 1969), affirmed, 232 So.2d 737 (Fla.1970). Sections 775.0841 and 775.0842, Florida Statutes (1989), discuss the intent of the legislature in the prosecution of career criminals. These Sections clearly reflect that the legislature intended persons qualifying as career or habitual criminal offenders to receive enhanced punishment, and provide as follows:

775.0841 Legislative findings and intent.--The Legislature hereby finds that

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a substantial and disproportionate number of serious crimes is committed in Florida by a relatively small number of multiple and repeat felony offenders, commonly known as career criminals. The Legislature further finds that priority should be given to the investigation, apprehension, and prosecution of career criminals in the use of law enforcement resources and to the incarceration of career criminals in the use of available prison space. The Legislature intends to initiate and support increased efforts by state and local law enforcement agencies and state attorney's offices to investigate, apprehend, and prosecute career criminals and to incarcerate them for extended terms.

775.0842 Persons subject to career criminal prosecution efforts.--A person who is under arrest for the commission, attempted commission, or conspiracy to commit any felony in this state shall be the subject of career criminal prosecution efforts provided that such person qualifies as a habitual felony offender or a habitual violent felony offender under s. 775.084.

It is obvious that the legislature intended that defendants with prior criminal records of habitual crimes receive greater punishment than others. As recognized by the First District in Barber v. State, 564 So.2d 1169, 1171 (Fla. 1st DCA) rev. denied 576 So.2d 284 (Fla.1990):

The legislature chose to restrict the class of felons encompassed by section 775.084, based upon the number of prior felonies and misdemeanors committed, and based upon the length of time since the defendant committed the last crime. It is apparent that the legislature intended to enact this law in the belief that increased sentences for repeat offenders will deter their criminal conduct, at least during the time that they are incarcerated. There can be no question that enhanced punishment of repeat felons is a legitimate goal within the state's police power.

To follow the defendants' construction of the Act would defeat the expressed legislative intent of providing enhanced penalties for career criminals in order to deter criminal conduct. It is not rational, to say the least, to interpret the statutes so that those career criminals who commit the most serious of felony crimes are not subject to enhanced punishment under the habitual offender statute, while those that commit less serious crimes are included within its scope.

Second, it is significant that the statutory sections under which the defendants were convicted specifically provide for sentencing under the habitual offender statute. Defendant Brooks was convicted of second degree murder with a firearm, under Section 782.04(2), which states that persons convicted under this statute may be punished "as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084." (Emphasis added). Defendant Lamont was convicted of sexual battery with a firearm, kidnapping with a firearm, and burglary of an occupied dwelling with a firearm. Section 794.011(3), which defines sexual battery with a firearm, Section 810.02(2)(b), Florida Statutes (1989), which defines burglary of an occupied dwelling with a firearm, and Section 787.01(2) which defines kidnapping, all state that persons convicted under the statute may be punished "as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. (Emphasis added). 3 The legislature would not have specifically indicated in each statute that Section 775.084 was to be used in determining a defendant's sentence if it

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had intended to exclude defendants convicted of such felonies from the scope of the Act. 4 The fact that some or all of the underlying crimes are life felonies, either by definition, or by reclassification...

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11 practice notes
  • Pearson v. State, No. 90-2148
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 18 Agosto 1992
    ...no error occurred when the trial judge ordered defendant's sentence enhanced. Based upon Page 678 our holding in Lamont v. State, 597 So.2d 823 (Fla. 3d DCA 1992), life felonies are subject to enhancement under the habitual offender statute, section 775.084, Florida Statutes (1989). However......
  • Sessions v. State, No. 90-2186
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 18 Febrero 1992
    ...While the only substantive point is frivolous, two other issues require further treatment. 1. On the authority of Lamont v. State, 597 So.2d 823 (Fla. 3d DCA 1992), the life sentence without parole imposed upon Sessions for the life felony of second degree murder with a firearm is affirmed ......
  • Knickerbocker v. State, Nos. 90-3134
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 21 Agosto 1992
    ...has concluded that a sentence for a life felony is subject to enhancement pursuant to the habitual offender statute. Lamont v. State, 597 So.2d 823 (Fla. 3d DCA 1992) (en banc ). Accordingly, we conclude that it was error to enhance appellant's three sexual battery sentences pursuant to the......
  • Lamont v. State, Nos. 79586
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 24 Diciembre 1992
    ...Atty. Gen. and Michael J. Neimand, Asst. Atty. Gen., Miami, for respondent. KOGAN, Justice. We have for review Lamont v. State, 597 So.2d 823 (Fla. 3d DCA 1992), in which the district court certified its decision as being in conflict with the decisions of other district courts of appeal on ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
11 cases
  • Pearson v. State, No. 90-2148
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 18 Agosto 1992
    ...no error occurred when the trial judge ordered defendant's sentence enhanced. Based upon Page 678 our holding in Lamont v. State, 597 So.2d 823 (Fla. 3d DCA 1992), life felonies are subject to enhancement under the habitual offender statute, section 775.084, Florida Statutes (1989). However......
  • Sessions v. State, No. 90-2186
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 18 Febrero 1992
    ...While the only substantive point is frivolous, two other issues require further treatment. 1. On the authority of Lamont v. State, 597 So.2d 823 (Fla. 3d DCA 1992), the life sentence without parole imposed upon Sessions for the life felony of second degree murder with a firearm is affirmed ......
  • Knickerbocker v. State, Nos. 90-3134
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 21 Agosto 1992
    ...has concluded that a sentence for a life felony is subject to enhancement pursuant to the habitual offender statute. Lamont v. State, 597 So.2d 823 (Fla. 3d DCA 1992) (en banc ). Accordingly, we conclude that it was error to enhance appellant's three sexual battery sentences pursuant to the......
  • Lamont v. State, Nos. 79586
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 24 Diciembre 1992
    ...Atty. Gen. and Michael J. Neimand, Asst. Atty. Gen., Miami, for respondent. KOGAN, Justice. We have for review Lamont v. State, 597 So.2d 823 (Fla. 3d DCA 1992), in which the district court certified its decision as being in conflict with the decisions of other district courts of appeal on ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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