A Puerto Rican former convict, just released from prison, pledges to stay away from drugs and violence despite the pressure around him and lead on to a better life outside of N.Y.C.
Carlito Brigante is released from jail after serving five years of a much longer stretch. He vows to go straight and to live life as a fine, upstanding citizen. He even rekindles a romance with his ex-lover. However, Carlito's associates cannot seem to leave him in peace...his nephew involves him a pool-room gunfight, his lawyer asks him for "favors" which spiral out of control, and even an old friend tries to get him into trouble with the law. Carlito decides to make a run for Florida and the promise of a new life, but has one final dramatic escape to make from some hoods who believe (wrongly) that he was behind the murder of their boss.