Lawmakers Approved Revamped Capital Punishment Law
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to sign a bill that would impose the death penalty on some child sex offenses, even if jurors don’t unanimously agree on this punishment. Instead, an 8-4 vote would be sufficient.
“My view is, you have some of these people that will be serial rapists of six, seven-year-old kids,” the governor remarked. “I think the death penalty is the only appropriate punishment when you have situations like that,” he added. State Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book (D-Davie) and state Sen. Jonathan Martin (R-Fort Myers), the bill’s co-sponsors, argued that those who sexually harm kids are likely to repeat their crime and deserve the ultimate penalty.
The unanimous decision death penalty controversy made headlines in Florida last year after a jury spared Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz from execution, instead handing down a life sentence. All but one juror voted for Cruz to be executed, which DeSantis said was “really the only appropriate punishment.”
“If you don’t support capital punishment, I respect that,” the governor added, “but the way to deal with that is to try to get the laws changed in the state through the democratic process, not to be on a jury and to nullify capital punishment.”
Resolving Child Sex Abuse Cases
Most jurors have little or no sympathy for these defendants. So, a jury trial resolution usually isn’t a good option for a Tampa criminal defense attorney in these situations. Most jurors look for ways to convict unsympathetic defendants.
With a jury trial off the board, that leaves a bench trial and a plea bargain. These are both good options, especially if a solid legal defense could apply. These defenses resonate well with regular lawyers like prosecutors, and super-lawyers like judges.
Procedural defenses are the most effective defenses in these situations. They enable a Tampa criminal defense lawyer to mount an effective defense without addressing the merits of the case, which are often toxic. These procedural defenses usually include Fourth Amendment and Fifth Amendment violations.
Frequently, before they interrogate suspects, officers look for corroborating evidence. Then, they can tell suspects “we found X, so you might as well confess.” These search warrants are often based on little more than the alleged victim’s identification and version of events. That shaky proof often doesn’t constitute probable cause, especially if, as is often the case, the alleged victim told slightly different stories to different people.
Fifth Amendment violations usually involve a failure to promptly and properly Mirandize suspects.
Usually, officers must read defendants their rights before they begin custodial interrogation. That usually begins when defendants answer their front doors to confront investigators or when officers ask suspects to come to the station. In both cases, the defendants don’t feel free to leave and are subject to questioning.
Properly Mirandizing a suspect means reading the Miranda rights in a language the defendant easily understands. For many child sex abuse defendants, English is a shaky second language, at best.
Limiting the Consequences
Expungement and sealing, the traditional post-conviction remedies, are usually unavailable in child sex abuse cases. Nevertheless, these defendants still have some legal options which limit, or eliminate, the lasting consequences of such a conviction.
Registration downgrade might be an option. If a defendant pleaded guilty to something like lewd behavior, Level 1 status is available. These individuals must only update personal information once every two years. Furthermore, their names aren’t publicly available, at least in most cases, and they may be eligible for complete removal.
A plea to a lesser-included offense is absolutely critical in this situation. A child sex abuse conviction is a mandatory Level 2, or usually Level 3, offense.
Early discharge from probation or confinement is usually available as well. When a Tampa criminal defense attorney files such a motion, the judge normally only considers the defendant’s conduct during court supervision and the defendant’s danger to the community, if any.
Before-and-after arguments, e.g., I was addicted to drugs, but now I’m clean, often gives these motions a greater chance of success.
Executive pardon is an option as well. This alternative is a long shot, but it’s not a hail Mary pass. Governors usually at least consider clemency petitions that are well-presented and well-timed. Such a pardon usually cleans the slate completely.
Count on a Tenacious Hillsborough County Attorney
A criminal charge is not the same thing as a criminal conviction. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Tampa, contact the OA Law Firm. Convenient payment plans are available.