Lawmakers Eye Habitual Offenders

The state Senate has passed a bill giving judges the discretion to determine sentences for criminal defendants who are considered habitual offenders subject to enhanced sentencing because of previous felony convictions.

The measure, opposed by Attorney General Beau Biden's office, passed the Senate on a 12-9 vote Thursday, with Republicans casting all but one of the dissenting votes. It now goes to the House.

Under current law, a person convicted of a fourth felony can be sentenced to life in prison, and must receive a minimum sentence that is at least equal to the maximum sentence allowed by law for the fourth offense.

A person convicted of a third violent felony also is considered a habitual offender under current law, with the court required to impose a life sentence.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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