The juvenile justice system in Florida continues to be a hot topic. In December, the Juvenile Justice Bill received a lot of attention and now a ruling from earlier in 2015 is making a stir by creating a backlog of cases in courtrooms throughout the state. In the ruling by the Florida Supreme Court, juveniles (individuals under the age of 18) that committed a murder can still be sentenced to life imprisonment; however, those individuals are entitled to a review of that sentencing after 25 years.
Change in law delays defense lawyers
Some of the first convicted murderers to be granted the review were represented in Okaloosa County court earlier this month. The lawyers of six people who were sentenced to life without parole for murders committed while they were juveniles went before Circuit Judge William Stone last week. When Judge Stone asked each attorney about their ability to prepare for the hearing, the lawyers shared a common concern. They reported that a rise in similar cases caused a backlog due to the recent ruling. Each of the attorneys were granted extensions without objection in the interest of due process.
Juvenile Resentencing Already Making News in Miami
In Miami, Michael Hernandez, convicted of killing his classmate Jaime Gough at Southwood Middle School in 2004, recently received a resentencing hearing due to a similar U.S. Supreme Court ruling, which banned automatic life terms without the possibility of parole for juveniles convicted of murder. Although the trial was set to take place late last year, it was delayed until this month when the defense attorneys’ request for more time to gather expert witnesses was granted.
When the new sentencing finally took place after a three-day hearing on February 22, the judge once again sentenced Hernandez to life in prison. However, under the new Florida law, he will be granted another review once he has been in prison for 25 years.
Juvenile criminal charges require the representation of a reputable defense lawyer, to make sure your rights are represented under the current laws of the state.
McLaughlin, T. (2016, February 16). Road to re-sentencing begins for young killers. http://www.nwfdailynews.com/article/20160216/NEWS/160219313/?Start=1
Rabin, C. (2015, October 24). Teen killer’s resentencing delayed until January. Retrieved February 24, 2016, from http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/crime/article39053964.html
Ovalle, D. (2016, February 22). Life in prison again for Southwood Middle killer Michael Hernandez. Retrieved February 24, 2016, from http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/crime/article61743422.html