Florida Court Examines the Right to Sentencing Review for Juvenile Offenders

People convicted as juveniles and sentenced to more than twenty years in prison are entitled to a sentence review after they have been imprisoned for twenty years. The sentencing court is not required to orally advise the defendant of such rights or set forth information regarding the right to review in the sentencing order, however. As such, the failure to do so will not constitute an error, as explained in a recent Florida opinion issued in a matter in which the defendant appealed his conviction. If you are charged with a crime, it is in your best interest to talk to a Tampa criminal defense attorney about what steps you can take to protect your rights.

Procedural History

It is reported that when the defendant was 16 years old, he was charged with multiple crimes after he allegedly attacked his foster mother. He was convicted on all counts. Prior to sentencing, he sought a downward sentence due to the fact that he needed specialized treatment for a medical condition. The state opposed the imposition of a departure sentence on the grounds that the defendant had a lengthy criminal past and his criminal conduct was escalating.

Allegedly, the court rejected the defendant’s request for a downward departure and sentenced him to a total of 35 years imprisonment. It did not mention the right to a sentence review or set forth anything about such rights in the written sentence. The defendant moved to correct a sentencing error, arguing that because he was a juvenile at the time of his conviction, he was entitled to judicial review after he completed twenty years of his sentence. His motion was deemed denied, and he appealed.

The Right to Sentencing Review

On appeal, the court affirmed the defendant’s right to judicial review, but clarified that the trial court did not err in neglecting to orally pronounce the right or to explain it in the written sentencing order. Instead, the court clarified that the duty to notify the defendant of his eligibility to request a judicial sentencing review after twenty years rested with the Department of Corrections.

Specifically, the Department of Corrections had an obligation to inform the defendant of his right to a sentence review hearing within eighteen months of when the right would be ripe. The sentencing court’s duties, on the other hand, would only arise after the defendant applied for a judicial review of his sentence. Thus, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Meet with an Assertive Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney

The law affords juvenile offenders greater rights than other criminal defendants, including the right to sentencing review. If you were charged with a crime as a juvenile, it is advisable to meet with an attorney to evaluate your options for seeking a good outcome. The assertive Tampa lawyers of Hanlon Law have the skills and resources needed to help you safeguard your rights, and if you hire us, we will argue aggressively on your behalf. You can reach Hanlon Law via the form online or at 813-228-7095 to set up a consultation.

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