Whitehead v. State, No. 67053

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Writing for the CourtBARKETT; McDONALD; OVERTON; OVERTON
Citation498 So.2d 863,11 Fla. L. Weekly 553
Docket NumberNo. 67053
Decision Date30 October 1986
Parties11 Fla. L. Weekly 553 Kenneth WHITEHEAD, Petitioner, v. STATE of Florida, Respondent.

Page 863

498 So.2d 863
11 Fla. L. Weekly 553
Kenneth WHITEHEAD, Petitioner,
v.
STATE of Florida, Respondent.
No. 67053.
Supreme Court of Florida.
Oct. 30, 1986.
Rehearing Denied Jan. 5, 1987.

Page 864

Michael E. Allen, Public Defender, Second Judicial Circuit, and P. Douglas Brinkmeyer, Asst. Public Defender, Tallahassee, for petitioner.

Jim Smith, Atty. Gen. and Royall P. Terry, Jr., Asst. Atty. Gen., Tallahassee, for respondent.

BARKETT, Justice.

We have for review Whitehead v. State, 467 So.2d 779 (Fla. 1st DCA 1985). In that decision, the district court certified the following question as being of great public importance:

When a defendant who committed a crime before 1 October 1983 affirmatively selects sentencing pursuant to the sentencing guidelines, must the record show the defendant knowingly and intelligently waived the right to parole eligibility?

Id. at 780. We have jurisdiction. Art. V, § 3(b)(4), Fla.Const.

This Court answered the certified question in Cochran v. State, 476 So.2d 207 (Fla.1985). Thus, we approve the district court's holding that the record does not have to show that a defendant knowingly and intelligently waived the right to parole eligibility if it shows that he affirmatively selected the guidelines. We disapprove, however, the district court's holding that the habitual offender statute (section 775.084, Florida Statutes (1985)) is an adequate reason to depart from the sentencing guidelines (Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.701 promulgated under the authority of section 921.001, Florida Statutes (1985)).

In determining the continued viability of the habitual offender statute in light of the subsequently enacted sentencing guidelines, we recognize that we must attempt to preserve both statutes by reconciling their provisions, if possible. See State v. Digman, 294 So.2d 325 (Fla.1974). We find that we cannot do so. In order to retain the habitual offender statute, we would have to conclude that either the sentencing guidelines are not applicable to "statutory" habitual offenders (i.e., those defendants whom the state seeks to punish pursuant to the specific provisions of section 775.084, Florida Statutes) or, if applicable, that the habitual offender statute may be used in and of itself as a legitimate reason to depart from the guidelines. We can find no logical support for either proposition.

The habitual offender statute 1 was originally enacted as a scheme to impose an

Page 865

enhanced sanction upon those defendants who had committed other crimes in the past and posed a danger to society in the future thereby evincing an increased need for a lengthier term of incarceration. See Eutsey v. State, 383 So.2d 219, 223 (Fla.1980) (purpose of habitual offender act is to allow enhanced penalties for those defendants who meet objective guidelines indicating recidivism).

In 1982, a sentencing commission created by the legislature developed a statewide system of sentencing guidelines to be implemented by October 1, 1983. See Ch. 82-145, § 1, Laws of Fla. The guidelines were intended to eliminate "unwarranted variation in the sentencing process by reducing the subjectivity in interpreting specific offense-related and offender-related criteria and in defining their relative importance in the sentencing decision" and to establish the rule that "[t]he severity of the sanction should increase with the length and nature of the offender's criminal history." Fla.R.Crim.P. 3.701(b). Furthermore, the guidelines were to be generally applicable.

Section 921.001(4)(a), Florida Statutes (1985), requires that:

The guidelines shall be applied to all felonies, except capital felonies, committed on or after October 1, 1983, and to all felonies, except capital felonies and life felonies, committed prior to October 1, 1983, for which sentencing occurs after such date when the defendant affirmatively selects to be sentenced pursuant to the provisions of this act.

(Emphasis added.) This language is explicit and unambiguous. The only exceptions to the sentencing guidelines scheme are capital felonies and offenses committed prior to October 1, 1983 in which the defendant does not affirmatively select to be sentenced under the guidelines. The statute does not exempt defendants sentenced under the habitual offender statute.

Although the legislature did not repeal section 775.084 when it adopted the guidelines, we believe the goals of that section are more than adequately met through application of the guidelines. The habitual offender statute provides an enhanced penalty based on consideration of a defendant's prior criminal record and a factual finding that the defendant poses a danger to society. The guidelines take into account both of these considerations.

First, a defendant's prior criminal record is carefully and specifically considered and scored within the guidelines. Sentences automatically escalate in accordance with the number and seriousness of prior convictions. Whereas, under the habitual offender statute the state had to specifically request habitual offender status in a separate proceeding in order to assure an increased sentence for prior offenses, under the guidelines every defendant's prior record is automatically weighed and results in an enhanced sentence.

Second, the...

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269 practice notes
  • Bunkley v. State, No. SC01-297.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • May 27, 2004
    ...Court of Appeal in Hall is not contained in our new opinion. Therefore, the determination of whether 882 So.2d 912 Whitehead [v. State, 498 So.2d 863 (Fla.1986)] has retroactive application should be decided upon traditional principles pertaining to changes in decisional In Witt v. State, 3......
  • State v. Collins, No. SC05-108.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • June 5, 2008
    ...convictions for such a sentence. Therefore, as we now explain, Shull does not apply. Before Shull, we had decided Whitehead v. State, 498 So.2d 863 (Fla.1986). In that case, we considered the continued viability of the habitual felony offender statute in light of the subsequently enacted se......
  • Mitchell v. Moore, No. SC95299.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • April 12, 2001
    ...changes. In McCuiston v. State, 534 So.2d 1144 (Fla.1988), for example, this Court declined to retroactively apply Whitehead v. State, 498 So.2d 863 (Fla.1986), which held that finding a defendant to be an habitual offender is not a legally sufficient reason for departure from the guideline......
  • Bunkley v. State, No. SC01-297.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • November 21, 2002
    ...States, 284 U.S. 299, 52 S.Ct. 180, 76 L.Ed. 306 (1932)); McCuiston v. State, 534 So.2d 1144 (Fla.1988) (addressing Whitehead v. State, 498 So.2d 863 (Fla.1986), wherein the Court held that habitual offender status is an invalid ground for departure from the sentencing 12. The United States......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
269 cases
  • Bunkley v. State, No. SC01-297.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • May 27, 2004
    ...Court of Appeal in Hall is not contained in our new opinion. Therefore, the determination of whether 882 So.2d 912 Whitehead [v. State, 498 So.2d 863 (Fla.1986)] has retroactive application should be decided upon traditional principles pertaining to changes in decisional In Witt v. State, 3......
  • State v. Collins, No. SC05-108.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • June 5, 2008
    ...convictions for such a sentence. Therefore, as we now explain, Shull does not apply. Before Shull, we had decided Whitehead v. State, 498 So.2d 863 (Fla.1986). In that case, we considered the continued viability of the habitual felony offender statute in light of the subsequently enacted se......
  • Mitchell v. Moore, No. SC95299.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • April 12, 2001
    ...changes. In McCuiston v. State, 534 So.2d 1144 (Fla.1988), for example, this Court declined to retroactively apply Whitehead v. State, 498 So.2d 863 (Fla.1986), which held that finding a defendant to be an habitual offender is not a legally sufficient reason for departure from the guideline......
  • Bunkley v. State, No. SC01-297.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • November 21, 2002
    ...States, 284 U.S. 299, 52 S.Ct. 180, 76 L.Ed. 306 (1932)); McCuiston v. State, 534 So.2d 1144 (Fla.1988) (addressing Whitehead v. State, 498 So.2d 863 (Fla.1986), wherein the Court held that habitual offender status is an invalid ground for departure from the sentencing 12. The United States......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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