Habitual Offender Statutes
Jurisdictions are increasingly enacting habitual offender statutes. Under these statutes, repeat offenders are often sentenced to extreme penalties. Sometimes called "Three Strikes and You Are Out Laws" these sentences often seem unfair when the final, triggering conviction is relatively minor in nature.
I some jurisdictions the factfinder, either judge or jury, will have to make a secondary determination, after having convicted the defendant, that the individual is in fact a habitual offender. These bifurcated proceedings permit the factfinder to contemplate the defendant's guilt without weighing the potential ramifications of that decision at sentencing.
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