For the first time in the 21st Century, a criminal justice reform bill has become law in Florida. Proponents call House Bill 7125 a “baby step” for criminal justice reform, but it is the first reform the state has seen in quite some time. The criminal justice reform bill reduces some occupational licensing barriers for people with felony convictions, limits the number of offenses that can result in driver’s license suspension, raises the felony theft threshold from $300 to $750, and eliminates mandatory direct file cases (required juvenile cases that go to adult court).  The bill will have a fiscal impact on state and local governments.  Subject to the Governor’s veto powers, and unless otherwise specified, the effective date of this bill is October 1, 2019.

Here is a list of the changes the bill imposes:

  • Prohibits disclosure of specified Crime Stoppers information and modifies use of grant funds;
  • Expands inmate reentry programming; reduces barriers to occupational licensing and educational opportunities; and expands sealing eligibility for specified criminal history records;
  • Reforms current probation practices to more proportionally address violations;
  • Raises felony thresholds for specified offenses, including grand theft and retail theft, to $750;
  • Authorizes the creation of community courts and expands eligibility for pretrial drug court;
  • Reforms driver license suspensions and revocations;
  • Repeals mandatory direct file for juveniles, revises youthful offender sentencing eligibility, and updates juvenile civil citation provisions to reflect current practices;
  • Raises hydrocodone trafficking thresholds to align with similar controlled substances;
  • Revises offenses related to correctional and county detention facilities and clarifies an inmate released from a county detention facility may qualify as a prison releasee reoffender;
  • Expands and revises criminal justice data transparency elements and requires the procurement of a uniform arrest affidavit and other specified uniform crosswalk tables;
  • Revises elements and penalties for cybercrimes, contracting fraud, escape, retail theft, possessing a counterfeit instrument, driving while license suspended or revoked, and specified regulatory crimes;
  • Authorizes specified law enforcement officers to carry a concealed firearm off-duty in any state;
  • Extends specified deadlines and increases an award for crime victim compensation claims;
  • Creates a task force to review and make recommendations on felony sentencing and ranking; and
  • Makes other varied reforms to increase public safety.

-By Marc Consalo, Director of the Center for Law and Policy