A felony conviction has serious consequences. Punishment for a felony offense typically includes prison time, probation, fines, loss of constitutional rights and privileges, and a lifelong blemish on the person’s criminal record. Not only does a felony conviction impact the person’s ability to obtain employment and housing, but, under O.C.G.A. § 17-10-7, a prior felony conviction can be used to enhance a sentence on a new felony conviction. This article serves to explore the “Repeat Offenders” statute dealing with recidivist sentencing and Georgia’s ‘three strikes’ rule.
O.C.G.A. § 17-10-7 (a) – Recidivist Provision
If someone has one prior felony conviction and they are convicted of a felony a second time, the judge must to sentence the offender to the maximum term of imprisonment as set out in the statute they’ve been convicted of. However, the judge does have the discretion to probate or suspend that maximum sentence. Furthermore, in order to obtain a recidivist sentence under 17-10-7, the State must give the defendant clear notice before trial of its intention to seek such a sentence; the State must also prove that the prior conviction was for a crime which, if committed within Georgia, would be a felony. Wheeler v. State, 270 Ga.App. 363 (2004).
O.C.G.A. § 17-10-7 (c) – Three Strikes Rule
Any person who has been convicted of three felonies and commits a felony within Georgia shall, upon conviction for such fourth offense or for subsequent offenses, serve the maximum time provided for the sentence. The judge will not be able to reduce the sentence, the offender will not be eligible for parole until the maximum sentence has been served, and early release is unavailable. A person sentenced under the Three Strikes Rule will have to serve every day of the imposed sentence.