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U.S. Supreme Court Revises States' Laws Reducing Prison Sentences for Minors

On Friday, August 19, Palm Beach County Court Judge, Jeffery Colbath amended the previous punishment of Ramon Rosario. Rosario was sentenced to over 200 years of prison time after being convicted of leading a band of young individuals into people's homes, kidnapping, and robbing them. He was also the participant in a standoff with a Boca Raton officer. The adjusted sentencing is in line with the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision where states should avoid giving life sentences to juvenile offenders who had not committed murder.

After the revision on states' laws by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Florida Supreme Court ordered the new punishment for Rosario, which was previously set to end in 2280, well beyond his life expectancy. Rosario's new sentence is 42 years, which would put him in his late fifties by the time he gets out. Rosario was entitled to the adjusted punishment because he was a minor at the time the crime was committed. His punishment still covers 15 felony counts, including home invasion and racketeering, so he's hardly getting off easy.

U.S. Supreme Court Decision Cites Cruel and Unusual Punishment

The U.S. Supreme Court stated that sentencing minors to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for crimes other than murder was considered to be cruel and unusual punishment. Though the appellate courts have launched inquiries as to whether the new revision should apply to "de-facto life sentence" as in Rosario's case, he nonetheless received the reduction in prison time.

Judges are currently required to hold special hearings to determine if a life sentence or a term of years equivalent to life imprisonment is appropriate. Severity of crime and circumstances are taken into account when attempting to determine fair sentencing.

If you're currently imprisoned due to a criminal act as a minor, this newly adjusted statute may apply to you. Contact the Spatz Law Firm to learn more.

Article of reference:

Freeman, M. (2016). Judge cuts 228 years from felon's prison term. Retrieved September 13, 2016, from http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/palm-beach/fl-ramon-rosario-new-prison-sentence-20160819-story.html

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