Articles Posted in Florida Supreme Court

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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

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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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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