Sentence Upheld for Juvenile Convicted of Murder in Florida

Courts and judges do not have total discretion when sentencing defendants who have been convicted of crimes. Along with the general sentencing guidelines that lay out the potential penalties for each crime, there are also a number of statutory factors that courts must consider. An experienced Clearwater violent crimes defense attorney can help you understand the potential penalties that you or a loved one may face if you are convicted of particular crimes.

Motion for Resentencing

In this case, a juvenile defendant was convicted of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison without parole. However, after his conviction, he made a motion for resentencing under section 921.1401 of the Florida Statutes. That section addresses when life imprisonment is an appropriate penalty for a juvenile. It states that the defendant’s youth and the attendant circumstances should be considered, as well as the effect of the crime on the community and the victim’s family, the defendant’s age and maturity, the extent of the defendant’s participation in the offense, and other similar factors. Pursuant to this section, the court resentenced the defendant to 28 years in prison. In their order, the court addressed each of the factors one-by-one.

A couple of years later, the defendant filed another motion asking for another sentence modification. These are considered under Florida statute 921.1402. That statute allows courts to hold a sentence review hearing for eligible juvenile offenders. The factors that the court is required to look at include whether the defendant has demonstrated rehabilitation and maturity, the opinion of the victim and/or their next of kin, the risk that the defendant poses to the community and other factors.

At the sentence review hearing, the defense noted that many of these factors were considered at the original hearing a couple of years ago. However, they also highlighted that the court must also look at the defendant’s rehabilitation and whether he continues to be a risk to the community. The court ended up denying the motion for review. From the bench the judge did acknowledge that the defendant had completed some classes and was clearly trying to better himself, but that the sentence was appropriate. The judge also noted that he believed that the defendant had a low risk of reoffending.

The defendant did not object at the time the ruling was handed down. However, the defendant did file this appeal arguing that the court did not address the factors as required by the statute. The appeals court here agreed with the state that the denial of the motion for review was proper. They held that in the first place, the argument was not preserved since the defense did not object at the time the denial was given. They also held that there was not a fundamental error because the court did give insight into their decision and there is no requirement that they address every element in the statute. Thus, the denial of the defendant’s motion was affirmed.

Contact an Experienced Clearwater Violent Crime Defense Attorney Today

Crimes like murder and other violent crimes can come with harsh penalties. The violent crimes defense attorneys at Hanlon Law Firm zealously and knowledgeably defend clients charged with violent crimes and other offenses. Contact us online or call our offices at (727) 897-5413 to speak with our skilled attorneys about your case.

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