Habitual offender status brings 8-year sentence for man guilty of child abuse

A man found guilty of child abuse, usually punishable by a maximum of 5 years in prison, was sentenced to 8 years Tuesday because his lengthy criminal history qualified him as a Habitual Felony Offender, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

And because Kevin Daniel Fortier, 41, had only been out of prison about 2 years, he will have to serve the first 5 years of this sentence day-for-day as a Prison Release Reoffender.

“The defendant has a documented history of violence and, despite having gone to prison three times, continues to exhibit violent behavior,” Prosecutor Josh James said. “He is a danger to the public and Bay County is made safer with his incarceration.”

A jury found Fortier guilty of Child Abuse July 6 after hearing witnesses and evidence proving that Fortier slapped a child hard enough during an argument in 2021 to knock her off-balance and cause swelling and bruising to her eye.

Fortier, who had previously been to prison three times, got out of prison in 2019 for Trafficking in Methamphetamine and Felony Fleeing and Attempting to Elude.

Based on those previous convictions, James successfully argued that the defendant should be sentenced as a Habitual Felony Offender, meaning he faced a maximum of 10 years in prison instead of 5. He also successfully argued that because he had been released from prison two years earlier, he should have to serve the first 5 years of his sentence day-for-day as a Prison Release Reoffender.

Circuit Court Judge Brantley Clark agreed, ordering the 8-year sentence and enhanced penalties.

Basford thanked the Bay County Sheriff’s Office and Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center for their work on the case.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at mike.cazalas@sa14.fl.gov, or call 850-381-7454.