The United States Supreme Court has applied considerable focus upon whittling away at the maximum sentence applicable to a juvenile criminal defendant. Not long ago, the Court held that juveniles could no longer face the death penalty – no matter the conviction. More recently, the Court held that a juvenile life sentence is only available in murder cases and eliminating the possibility of parole is also considered unconstitutional against minors.
Accordingly, the Florida Supreme Court also held on March 19, 2015, that trial courts must now work through the process of applying retroactive sentences to any criminal defendant currently facing an unlawful lifetime punishment – a concept generally considered unconstitutional under historical ex post facto laws.
Florida’s Juvenile Offenders Get a Second Chance at a Fair Sentence
As dedicated juvenile attorneys, we work overtime to secure a fair sentence for our clients. We remind the courts that juveniles often lack the maturity and world experience to fully understand the impact of their actions and a sentence should be affixed accordingly.
Thankfully, the Florida justices have also reached that conclusion and have quickly implemented the requirement for trial court judges to revisit life-without-parole sentences binding juvenile offenders to a life of incarceration. In so doing, the court has afforded offenders – and their counsel – a period of two years within which a new sentence must be secured. According to law enforcement statistics, this change could impact up to 200 individuals serving such sentences in Florida prisons.
In one instance, a 33-year old offender has served just 18 years of her life-without-parole sentence, which was imposed when she was just 15 years old. The case is often cited by proponents of such amendments to the sentencing laws and the Supreme Court has often pointed to such cases to illustrate the notion that children’s brains are not fully developed enough to grasp the gravity of their actions. Also, advocates contend that a child offender has a much better chance at reformation and rehabilitation than adults.
The courts are also to revisit punishments that amount to a life sentence, including one case involving a 90-year prison term for the commission of rape by a 17-year old offender. Another offender, who was just 14 at the time of his conviction, is enduring a 75-year sentence for attempted murder, attempted robbery and aggravated battery. Both offenders will be eligible for a retroactive sentence following the Supreme Court’s recent ruling.
Contact a Knowledgeable Bradenton Juvenile Attorney Today
From shoplifting to murder, our experienced juvenile law attorneys can help you combat your recent juvenile crime charges. We can help secure a fair trial, as well as a fair sentence if necessary and will work overtime to protect your rights and defend your freedom. To reach our Bradenton office, please call us in Sarasota at (941) 900-3100.