Court Discusses a Florida Juvenile Offender’s Sentencing Rights

Criminal defendants are granted numerous rights under state and federal law, that aim to protect them from unjust outcomes. Notably, a criminal defendant’s rights are not extinguished if he or she is found guilty of a crime. Rather, criminal defendants are protected from unfair sentences as well. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida appellate court case in which the court vacated the defendant’s fifty-year sentence for sexual battery, finding that it violated the defendant’s Eighth Amendment rights. If you are accused of committing sexual battery, it is in your best interest to meet with a skillful Clearwater sex crime attorney to discuss your rights and potential defenses.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported that the defendant was charged with and convicted of armed sexual battery in 2016, for offenses he committed when he was fifteen years old. He was subsequently sentenced to fifty years imprisonment. The defendant then filed a motion for post-conviction relief, arguing that the sentence violated his Eighth Amendment rights. The district court denied the motion, after which the defendant appealed.

Evaluating Whether a Sentence is Unjust

On appeal, the defendant argued that because he was a nonhomicide juvenile offender, his sentence violated Florida law, and he was entitled to relief. Upon review, the court noted that under Florida law, the constitutional prohibition against unusual and cruel punishment comes into play when a nonhomicide juvenile offender’s sentence does not afford him or her any meaningful chance for release based on demonstrated rehabilitation and maturity. The law is based on the position that imprisonment for a juvenile is qualitatively different than a comparable term for any adult. In further defining juvenile offenders’ rights with regards to sentencing, the Florida courts ruled that any lengthy term of years sentence imposed on a juvenile offender, which means any sentence longer than twenty years, does not provide a true opportunity for early release and may be vacated.

Further, the court noted that to qualify as a meaningful chance for early release, the courts must ensure that a nonhomicide juvenile offender is not sentenced to a term of imprisonment that only provides for a release at the end of his or her sentence or at a time that is beyond his or her natural life or does not include early release for rehabilitation or maturity. In the subject case, the court noted that the defendant was sentenced to a term of imprisonment that exceeded twenty years without an opportunity for judicial review or early release. Thus, the court found he was entitled to a new sentence and reversed the trial court ruling.

Meet with a Trusted Sex Crime Attorney

If you are charged with sexual battery or any other sex crime in Clearwater, it is wise to retain an attorney who will fight to protect your rights throughout the duration of your case. Attorney William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is a knowledgeable Clearwater sex crime attorney who will zealously advocate on your behalf to help you obtain the best result available in your case. You can reach Mr. Hanlon via the form online or by calling 727-897-5413 to set up a complimentary and confidential consultation.

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