Articles Posted in Juvenile 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

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Petitioner, a juvenile placed on juvenile probation, pleaded guilty to failing to follow an order of probation by violating curfew and failing to obey household rules. The circuit court then placed Petitioner in secure detention. Petitioner subsequently filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus, arguing that his sentence was illegal. The second district court of appeal denied Petitioner's petition for writ of habeas corpus and certified conflict with the fifth district court of appeal's decision in M.P. v. State. The Supreme Court (1) approved the decision of the second district court of appeal denying Petitioner's petition for writ of habeas corpus, and (2) disapproved the decision of the fifth district court of appeal in M.P. to the extent it was inconsistent with this opinion. View "J.M. v. Gargett" on Justia Law

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The State charged Defendant, who at the time was detained at a juvenile detention center, with one count of battery by detainee in violation of Fla. Stat. 784.03 and 784.082. Defendant moved to dismiss the charge, contending that a juvenile could not be lawfully charged with battery by detainee while detained in a juvenile detention facility. The trial court dismissed the charge based on its belief that it was bound to follow the first district court of appeal's decision in T.C. v. State, which held that the battery by detainee offense was inapplicable to juveniles held in juvenile facilities. The fourth district court of appeals reversed, noting that in the past it and the fifth district had affirmed a trial court order adjudicating a juvenile guilty of battery upon a fellow detainee. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a juvenile detention center qualifies as a "detention facility" for purposes of section 784.082, and thereby disapproving the first district's decision in T.C. View "Hopkins v. State" on Justia Law

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The State filed a petition for delinquency against Minor, alleging that Minor had violated Fla. Stat. Ann. 810.097(2) by trespassing on the grounds of a middle school after having been warned by the principal or designee. The two individuals who gave warnings to Minor were school police officers. The trial court denied Minor's motion and adjudged Minor delinquent. The district court affirmed. Minor appealed, contending (1) the State failed to prove that either of the warning officers was a designee of the school's principal; and (2) because the designee status of the warning individual is an element of the trespass offense under section 810.097(2), the State had failed to prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The Supreme Court quashed the decision of the district court and remanded the case, holding (1) the record did not contain competent, substantial evidence to support the finding that the officers were designees of the school's principal for purposes of section 810.097(2); and (2) therefore, the district court erred in affirming the trial court's adjudication of Minor's delinquency because an essential element of the offense was not supported by competent, substantial evidence. View "J.R. v. State" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, a juvenile, was convicted for trespassing upon the grounds of a school facility in violation of section 810.097(2), Florida Statutes. At issue was whether the prosecution must prove the identity of the individual who warned defendant to leave the grounds of the school, and that individual's authority to restrict access to the property, as essential elements of the trespass offense. The court held that the individual's identity and authority were essential elements of the offense and quashed the decision of the Third District. The court also held that, because in this case the state failed to present any evidence demonstrating that the petitioner was warned to leave by the school's principal or a designee of the principal, petitioner's conviction must be vacated. View "D.J. v. State" on Justia Law