The American criminal justice system understands that due to their age, minors do not have the same decision making skills as adults do. Thus, if a juvenile is accused of a crime, there may be defenses they can use that may not be available for adults. Of course every case is different and the best defense will depend on your circumstances. If you are being investigated or charged with a sex crime you should contact a skilled St. Petersburg sex crimes attorney as soon as possible. They can look at your circumstances and use their extensive knowledge of case law to help make sure that your rights are preserved.
In 2017, the Florida Supreme Court decided the Davis case, which they applied to the instant case to find that the sentence given to the defendant here should be vacated and a new penalty phase hearing should be conducted. In Davis, a man was arrested on two counts of first degree murder. He was found guilty by the jury of these murders. During the penalty phase of the trial, his attorneys presented mitigating evidence, including testimony about his cognitive functioning and mental health issues. There was little evidence proffered that supported aggravating factors for the sentencing. The jury recommended that the defendant be given two death sentences by a vote of nine to three for one of the murders and a vote of ten to two for the other murder.
While his appeal was pending, another ruling came down from the United States Supreme Court which found Florida’s death penalty scheme unconstitutional because there was no requirement of a unanimous jury verdict during the penalty phase and the judge, not the jury, was responsible for determining which aggravating factors were met. In Davis, the court found these errors to also be present and thus remanded the case for a new penalty phase trial.
The Instant Case
In this case the defendant was seventeen years old when he committed his offense. He entered an open plea to sexual battery and was sentenced to 40 years in prison and lifetime sex offender probation. The defendant filed a motion for a resentencing hearing and judicial review of his sentence. The trial court agreed to give him a juvenile sentence review hearing, but not a new sentencing hearing.
Here, the Florida Fifth District Court of Appeal held that under the precedent in Davis, the defendant was entitled to a new sentencing hearing as well. Thus, the appeals court granted him a juvenile sentence review hearing and a new sentencing hearing.
Contact an Experienced St. Petersburg Sex Crimes Defense Attorney
No matter what age you are, conviction on sex crime charges can have a huge impact on your life going forward. That’s why it’s so important to contact a knowledgeable St. Petersburg sex crimes attorney as soon as possible to help vigorously defend you against the charges. The law is constantly changing and you need attorneys who are knowledgeable in the current status of the laws. The criminal defense attorneys at Hanlon Law Firm fight aggressively on behalf of all clients charged with a crime. Call our offices at (727) 897-5413 24/7 to speak with our skilled attorneys about your case or contact us using the form on this website.
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