Articles Posted in Juvenile Law

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The Supreme Court held that juvenile offenders’ sentences of life with the possibility of parole after twenty-five years do not violate the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution, as delineated by the United States Supreme Court in Graham v. Florida, 460 U.S. 48 (2010), Miller v. Alabama, 467 U.S. 460 (2012), and related cases, and therefore, such juvenile offenders are not entitled to resentencing under Fla. Stat. 921.1402. Appellee was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder and related crimes he committed when he was sixteen years old. Appellee was sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after twenty-five years for the murder. Appellee later filed a motion for postconviction relief asserting that he was entitled to relief under Miller. The trial court summarily denied the motion, determining that Miller was inapplicable because Appellee had the opportunity for release on parole. The Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed, concluding that resentencing was required. The Supreme Court quashed the Fourth District’s opinion, holding that juvenile offenders’ sentences of life with the possibility of parole after twenty-five years do no violate Graham’s requirement that juvenile have a meaningful opportunity to receive parole. View "State v. Michel" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether, when a juvenile offender is entitled to a sentence review hearing, the trial court is required to review the aggregate sentence that the juvenile is serving from the same sentencing proceeding in determining whether to modify the juvenile’s sentence based upon demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation. The Fifth District Court of Appeal held a trial court is required to review a juvenile offender’s aggregate sentence at a statutorily required sentence review hearing in order to determine whether the modify the overall sentence based on maturity and rehabilitation. The Supreme Court quashed the Fifth District’s decision, holding that the plain language of the juvenile sentencing statutes does not provide for aggregation of sentences at judicial sentence review. View "State v. Purdy" on Justia Law

Posted in: Juvenile Law

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Juvenile offenders’ sentences of life with the possibility of parole after twenty-five years do not violate the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution as set forth in Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48 (2010), Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), and Virginia v. LeBlanc, 137 S. Ct. 1726 (2017), and therefore, such juvenile offenders are not entitled to resentencing under Fla. Stat. 921.1402. Defendant was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder and armed robbery, crimes he committed when he was sixteen years old. Defendant was sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after twenty-five years for the murder conviction. Defendant later filed a motion for postconviction relief pursuant to Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.850, asserting that he was entitled to relief under Miller. The trial court denied the motion, concluding that Miller was inapplicable because Defendant had the opportunity for release on parole. The court of appeal reversed, concluding that Atwell v. State, 197 So. 3d 1040 (Fla. 2016), required resentencing even where the offender may later obtain parole. The Supreme Court quashed the decision below, holding that juvenile offenders’ sentences of life with the possibility of parole after twenty-five years under Florida’s parole system do not violate Graham, and therefore, such offenders are not entitled to resentencing. View "State v. Michel" on Justia Law

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Upon revocation of a youthful offender’s probation for a substantive violation, the trial court is authorized to either impose another youthful offender sentence, with no minimum mandatory, or to impose an adult Criminal Punishment Code sentence requiring imposition of any minimum mandatory term of incarceration associated with the offense of conviction. Defendant was eighteen years old when he pleaded guilty to robbery with a firearm, which carried a ten-year minimum mandatory sentence. The trial court sentenced Defendant as a youthful offender under the Florida Youthful Offender Act to four years in prison and two years of probation. After Defendant violated his probation the trial court revoked his probation and sentenced him on the underlying offense of robbery with a firearm to fifteen years in prison, with a ten-year minimum mandatory sentence. The court of appeal affirmed. The Supreme Court quashed the decision below and remanded the case for resentencing, holding that where a defendant is initially sentenced to probation or community control as a youthful offender and the trial court later revokes supervision for a substantive violation and imposes a sentence above the youthful offender cap under Fla. Stat. 958.14 and 948.06(2), the court is required to impose a minimum mandatory sentence that would have originally applied to the offense. View "Eustache v. State" on Justia Law

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Defendant, a juvenile nonhomicide offender, was entitled to resentencing under Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48 (2010), because the sentencing court did not make the required findings at Defendant’s sentencing hearing to comport with chapter 2014-220, Laws of Florida, and because Defendant’s sentence lacked any review mechanism. Defendant was convicted of one count of attempted felony murder and one count of attempted armed robbery for a crime he convicted when he was fifteen years old. Defendant was sentenced as an adult to thirty years’ imprisonment for the attempted felony murder and fifteen years’ imprisonment for the attempted armed robbery, to be served concurrently. Defendant’s sentence did not provide for judicial review. The Supreme Court ordered that Defendant be resentenced under the juvenile sentencing provisions in chapter 2014-220. View "Morris v. State" on Justia Law

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Defendant pleaded guilty to two counts of armed sexual battery, armed burglary, and armed robbery. Defendant was fifteen years old at the time he committed the offenses. The trial court sentenced Defendant to two life sentences and two concurrent twenty-five-year terms. After Graham v. Florida was decided, the trial court resentenced Defendant to concurrent sentences of forty-five years. On appeal, the First District Court of Appeal concluded that Defendant was not entitled to resentencing under Henry v. State, which applied the new sentence review statute to a Graham-eligible defendant, because Defendant’s forty-five-year term of imprisonment did not constitute a de facto life sentence in violation of Graham. However, the district court certified a question to the Supreme Court regarding the need for clarity on a category of Graham cases. The Supreme Court disapproved the court of appeal’s decision affirming Defendant’s resentencing, holding that a defendant whose initial sentence for a nonhomicide crime violated Graham and who was resentenced to concurrent forty-five year terms was entitled to new resentencing under the framework established in chapter 2014-220, Laws of Florida. View "Kelsey v. State" on Justia Law

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In 2004, when Petitioner was sixteen years old, she and her boyfriend committed murder. Petitioner was convicted of second-degree murder with a weapon, which was classified as a life felony. The trial court sentenced Petitioner to life without parole without indicating what findings of aggravating or mitigating circumstances warranted imposition of the life-without-parole sentence as opposed to a term-of-years sentence under the sentencing guidelines then in place. After the United States Supreme Court decided Miller v. Alabama, Petitioner filed a motion for postconviction relief in the form of resentencing. The circuit court denied the motion. The Second District Court of Appeal affirmed, concluding that because Petitioner was sentenced under a discretionary sentencing scheme, Miller was inapplicable to Petitioner’s life-without-parole sentence. The Supreme Court quashed the Second District’s decision, holding that Miller applies to juvenile offenders whose sentences of life imprisonment without parole were imposed pursuant to a discretionary sentencing scheme when the sentencing court, in exercising that discretion, did not take into account the individualized sentencing considerations of a juvenile offender’s youth. View "Landrum v. State" on Justia Law

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In this case, the Third District Court of Appeal read Graham v. Florida as creating a homicide-case exception to the categorical rule against sentencing a juvenile offender to life without parole for a nonhomicide crime. The court’s reading would permit a juvenile to be sentenced to life without parole for a nonhomicide offense if the juvenile also committed a homicide in the same criminal episode. Applying this homicide-case exception, the Third District held that Defendant’s life-without-parole sentences for certain nonhomicide offenses committed as a juvenile were constitutional under Graham because Defendant also committed a homicide in the same criminal episode. The Supreme Court quashed the Third District’s decision, holding that Graham’s categorical rule leaves no room for the homicide-case exception recognized by the state’s Second, Third, and Fourth District Courts of Appeal. Remanded with instructions that Lawton be resentenced for the nonhomicide offenses of attempted first-degree murder with a firearm and armed robbery with a firearm. View "Lawton v. State" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, a juvenile, was arrested and charged with aggravated battery on a victim whom Petitioner knew or should have known was pregnant. Petitioner was on probation at the time of her arrest. Prior to the adjudicatory hearing, it was determined that Petitioner's risk assessment score on her risk assessment instrument (RAI) should be zero. The trial court then placed Petitioner in home detention. Petitioner filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, arguing that because her risk assessment score was zero, the trial court could not place her in home detention. Petitioner did not submit a copy of her RAI with her petition. The court of appeal found (1) Petitioner was not required to submit the RAI to properly consider the petition, and (2) because Petitioner's RAI score was zero, the trial court erred in placing her in home detention. The Supreme Court quashed the court of appeal's decision, holding (1) a district court may not grant a juvenile's pre-adjudicatory habeas petition when the court is not presented with the juvenile's RAI; and (2) a juvenile may be placed in home detention with a risk assessment score of zero when the juvenile qualifies for home detention under the specific terms of the RAI. View "State v. S.M." on Justia Law

Posted in: Juvenile Law

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Petitioner was a juvenile charged as an adult with attempted first-degree murder with a deadly weapon. After the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Graham v. Florida, Petitioner filed a motion to have a bond set. The trial court denied the motion. Petitioner filed a second petition for writ of habeas corpus, arguing (1) the Florida Constitution provides for pretrial release as a matter of right for a noncapital offense or an offense that does not carry the possibility of a life sentence, and (2) because Graham prohibits the State from sentencing him to life without an opportunity for parole, he was entitled to bond under the provisions of the State Constitution. The court of appeal denied the petition, concluding that Graham does not impact a juvenile defendant's entitlement to bond because the Florida Constitution considers only the classification of the offense, not a defendant's eventual sentence. The Supreme Court quashed the decision below, holding that juvenile offenders such as Petitioner were entitled to bond under the Florida Constitution because they cannot be charged with a crime punishable by life imprisonment under Florida's current statutory scheme and Graham. View "Treacy v. Lamberti" on Justia Law