Habitual Offender Status in Alabama and Justice
Alabama's Habitual Offender Laws were recently condemned in a Daily Beast article. The article outlines the horrendous injustice of the Alabama Habitual Offender rules that tie the hands of judges during the sentencing phase of a criminal trial. Many people charged under the habitual offender law never physically hurt anyone and will continue to spend decades, if not the remainder of their natural life in prison. Many feel like Alabama's prisons are like "modern day plantations," condemning many to life behind bars and disproportionately affecting minorities. Currently, 500 hundred people are serving life without parole sentences in Alabama. The law was designed to stop repeat offenders from committing crimes, but it's consequences are draconian. For decades, anyone committing a "violent," felony, such as robbery or burglary, after having three prior felonies, must be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Judges have no say in the process as the sentencing is mandated by statute. Alabama prisons are notoriously overcrowded and violent.
The law also outlines punishment for anyone who has been previously convicted of a Class A, B, or C felony, that upon an additional conviction of a Class A, B, or C felony, that the punishment will increase. For instance, if you are charge with a Class C felony, punishment will be rendered as if you committed a Class B felony. If you are convicted of a Class B felony, then your punishment would be as if you committed a Class A felony.
Felony Range of Punishment
Class A Felony -- 10 to life
Class B Felony -- 2 to 20
Class C Felony -- 1 to 10
Class D Felony -- 1 to 5 (with other factors regarding community corrections, these are usually drug offenses like Possession of Controlled Substance)
COVID and Alabama Prisons
The Alabama Department of Corrections currently reports over 700 cases of COVID. Some 20 inmates and at least two Department of Corrections workers have already died from the virus. COVID provisions in prison are almost non-existent, often only offering hand-sanitizer prior to meals. The age of habitual offenders in Alabama is of significant concern. Seventy-percent (70%) of Habitual Offenders in Alabama are over fifty years old. The Alabama prison population of those over age 50 has increased by three-thousand percent (3000%) over the last forty-years. The overcrowding in Alabama prisons has lead to the Department of Justice indicting that the DOC(Department of Corrections) in Alabama is operating unconstitutionally and may be deemed cruel and unusual punishment. Here is a video taken from inside and Alabama prison detailing the lack of COVID-19 safety procedures. The U.S. incarcerates more people than any country in the world, at least with official numbers, and Alabama's three strike laws and habitual offender laws are unnecessarily harsh resulting in prison sentences that are too long and condemning a largely geriatric population in unsafe and unsanitary conditions with little hope of the future.
Alabama Sentencing Standards
Alabama sentencing guidelines have been around a long time. Knowing how to complete these worksheets is often an essential aspect of any criminal defense firm. They can be complicated and can result in a serious reduction or increase in your sentence depending on how they are managed. The sentencing guidelines are considered presumptive when applied correctly. This means that a judge must have significant reason to go beyond the guidelines or below the guidelines in sentencing. Under the Alabama Guidelines there are violent crimes and non-violent crimes. Here is a link to the Alabama Sentencing Commission.
Who Am I
My name is Erik Fine. I am a criminal defense attorney based in Chelsea, Alabama. I regularly defend clients charged with crimes in Shelby, St. Clair, Blount, Cullman, Tuscaloosa, Chilton, Clay, and Jefferson Counties and throughout Alabama. I can help you be sentenced fairly under the guidelines if necessary, and often reduce charges leading to increased penalties. Alabama is my home. I love Alabama. I also love my job defending our God given inalienable Rights. I started the Patriot Law Firm to stand against government tyranny and to defend the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the common good. I will stand with you when you need me. Please contact me if you or anyone you know is subject of a criminal investigation or has been charged with a crime. Call me and you will speak to me, not an underlying, secretary or an assistant. I will personally be with you the entire way through any challenge.