Articles Posted in Juvenile crimes

The Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects a criminal defendant who is convicted of a crime from cruel and unusual punishment. The Constitution does not define cruel and unusual punishment, however, so the courts have been tasked with interpreting whether a sentence is barred by the Eighth Amendment. In cases involving juvenile homicide offenders, the Florida courts have held that a sentence that does not provide a meaningful chance for release are improper under the Eighth Amendment.

Recently, a Florida appellate court scrutinized whether a sentence of life in prison with judicial review after 25 years was cruel and unusual punishment, ultimately ruling that it was not. If you are charged with a violent crime in Sarasota, it is essential to retain a skillful Sarasota criminal defense attorney to assist you in formulating a defense.

The Defendant’s Conviction and Sentence

Reportedly, the defendant was convicted of first-degree murder in 1985, for a crime he committed when he was a juvenile. He was first sentenced to life in prison with a possibility of parole after twenty-five years. In 2016, he moved for post-conviction relief in the form of resentencing, arguing that his sentence violated the Eighth Amendment. Following a hearing, he was resentenced to life in prison with judicial review after twenty-five years. The defendant subsequently appealed the new sentence. On appeal, the court affirmed.

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Under Florida law, criminal suspects under the age of 18 are afforded certain rights based on their age, such as the right to be tried in a juvenile court. The juvenile court system may be more lenient and result in less stringent penalties than would be issued in adult court. The right to be tried as a juvenile is not a fundamental right that is guaranteed, however, but can be waived due to inaction.

A Florida district court recently upheld a juvenile defendant’s conviction in adult court for vehicular homicide, where the defendant’s attorney did not object to the jurisdiction until after the jury issued a verdict. If you are a juvenile Clearwater resident facing criminal charges, you should consult a skilled Clearwater crimal defense attorney to discuss the facts of your case and available defenses.

Procedural Facts

Reportedly, the defendant was charged with multiple offenses, including vehicular homicide, arising out of an incident that occurred when he was 15-years-old. Despite his juvenile status, the case was direct-filed in adult court. He entered a plea and was subsequently tried in front of a jury, which resulted in a hung jury and mistrial. A second trial subsequently commenced, after which the defendant was convicted of all charges. Shortly prior to the defendant’s sentencing hearing his attorney raised an objection to the court’s jurisdiction by filing a motion to vacate and remand to juvenile court. The defendant’s attorney had not raised any objection to the adult-court’s jurisdiction at any previous point in the proceedings. The state argued that the direct-filing in adult court was proper and that the defendant waived the right to object to the court’s jurisdiction prior to the conclusion of the trial. The court agreed, denying the motion. The defendant subsequently appealed, arguing ineffective assistance of counsel.

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