Recent Florida Legal News
- Two Jacksonville Teens to Be Charged as Adults — It was reported in late May that two Jacksonville area teenage alleged offenders would be charged as adults in seperate criminal cases. The Associated Press reported on May 29 that 16-year-old Edgar Robles is being charged as an adult with two counts of second-degree attempted murder for allegedly shooting two children on a Jacksonville school bus on May 14. Robles is also charged with shooting or throwing a deadly missile and faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted. The following day, the Florida Times-Union reported that 15-year-old Antiono Maurice Boykin would also be charged as an adult on charges of attempted murder and shooting deadly missiles following a February 22 shooting over a pair of Michael Jordan sneakers. Boykin allegedly shot the taillight of the vehicle driven by the woman who was attempting to sell the sneakers after putting them up for sale on Facebook.
- Florida House Bill Would Reduce Juvenile Arrests — State Representative Darryl Rouson and Senator Gwyn Clarke-Reed are co-sponsoring a bill that would reduce the number of youth arrests by expanding civil-citation programs to young people who have previously been in trouble with the law. Civil citations are currently limited to first-time offenders. House Bill 99 authorizes law enforcement officers to issue civil citations or require participation in diversion programs if the officer does not issue warnings to minors who admit to committing misdemeanors or inform a minor’s parent or guardian of a violation. HB 99 has received favorable votes of 10-3 in the Criminal Justice Subcommittee, 11-1 in the Justice Appropriations Subcommittee, and 16-0 in the Judiciary Committee. The companion bill, Senate Bill 378, passed in the House by a 115-2 vote on April 24, 2015.
- Federal Panel Votes to Amend Sentencing Guidelines for White Collar Crimes — The United States Sentencing Commission (USCC) voted on April 9 to adopt changes to the fraud guidelines used by federal judges when sentencing alleged offenders charged with committing white collar (economic) crimes. Commission Chair and Chief Judge Patti B. Saris said, “These amendments emphasize substantial financial harms to victims rather than simply the mere number of victims and recognize concerns regarding double-counting and over-emphasis on loss.” The changes could mean that an alleged offender who is accused of causing significant financial hardship for a single individual could be punished just as severely who inflicts minimal financial harm on several victims. The commission’s new guidelines will be submitted to Congress on May 1, 2015 and will go into effect on November 1 this year, unless lawmakers disapprove some or all of the amendments.
- Florida Supreme Court Throws Out Juvenile Life Sentences — The Florida Supreme Court unanimously ruled on March 19 that all of the state’s juvenile killers who were automatically sentenced to life in prison will have to be resentenced under a law the Florida Legislature passed in 2014 to meet U.S. Supreme Court standards for juvenile sentencing. In its 2012 decision in Miller v. Alabama, the nation’s highest court essentially banned automatic life sentences for juvenile killers, and the ruling by the state’s Supreme Court means that decision applies retroactively. The Florida decision means new sentencing hearings will be granted to four people currently serving life sentences for crimes committed as juveniles, two of whom were sentenced to juvenile life without parole for murder and two others who received sentences of 70 years and 90 years for non-homicide felonies. Decisions on the latter two cases hinged on the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Graham v. Florida, which determined that juveniles cannot receive life sentences for any offense other than homicide.