The law declares a person as a habitual offender if the person keeps committing crimes even though he/she has been held guilty and sentenced already on earlier instances. Such persons commit the same or such like crimes repeatedly. Generally, such people are not considered fit for rehabilitation, as they don’t show any interest in giving up their criminal actions. If a person is declared as a habitual offender, the government may take special steps for the overall benefit of the society.
A typical example of a habitual offender would be an individual who commits a series of driving offences in a small duration of time. For example, one may be fined repeatedly for drunken driving or driving beyond the specified speed. In such cases, the driving license of the habitual offenders may be cancelled, as their driving is considered to pose a grave risk to the general public. The ideal way to save others from the associated risks would be to cancel the license of such drivers, who are habitual to breaking the driving laws.
Here are the chief driving offences:
- Driving or trying to drive a vehicle under the influence of liquor, having an unlawful concentration of alcohol or other intoxicating material, like drugs or narcotics
- Intended or unintentional homicide relating to motor vehicles
- Driving any vehicle recklessly
- Driving any vehicle after the license for driving has been cancelled, suspended or revoked
- Any crime punishable under the motor vehicle act, or any crime involving the use of any motor vehicle
- The inability of the driver to stop the vehicle near the place of an accident, and not notifying the matter to the police.
Other habitual offenders include people who commit vandalism, robberies and such unlawful activities. Usually, state laws firmly define a habitual offender as a person who has committed three main or ten minor offences in a span of just five years. The court may warn these persons of their actions, which could be used to support further cases against them, meaning that they were aware of the likely consequences of illegal activities, yet they still indulged in them.
Certain states have framed the “three strikes law” for habitual offenders committing criminal acts. As per these laws, for a person convicted of having committed three criminal acts, there is a provision for unforgiving sentences, framed to put the offender behind bars. The intent of framing such laws is to minimize the risks to which the society is exposed by such offenders.
Once a person has been declared as a habitual offender, it would become essential to file an appeal for removing that declaration. Persons who are erroneously classified in this category may challenge the decision of the court, but people who are indeed habitual offenders would need to provide evidence in court to support their plea that they are no more a risk to society. They would certainly need a lawyer to assist them to prepare their case effectively.