The State of Florida has one of the highest death penalty rates in the country. This comes to no surprise as many of its citizens are some of the strongest proponents of capital punishment. However, the state is now facing a significant issue regarding death penalty, which may eventually lead to major amendments in their judicial system, after the United States Supreme Court ruled that the state’s death penalty sentencing system is unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court is of the opinion that Florida’s current death penalty sentencing system is a direct violation of The Sixth Amendment, which proclaims that defendants have the right to a speedy and fair trial, and that the jury for said trial is impartial. The jury shall weigh the aggravating and mitigating circumstances and ultimately determine what sentence shall be given to the criminal. Florida’s current system, however, is different and is considered an outlier compared to the rest of the country as it gives more weight to a judge’s independent judgment instead of a jury’s decision, which could either be unanimous or non-unanimous, another outlier compared to most states. This means that even if the jury advises death penalty as a sentence, it will still be the judge who will have the final say in the ultimate decision.
This issue was brought about with the Supreme Court’s holding in the case of Hurst vs Florida. Their decision on this case was inspired by another case, Ring vs Arizona, which has similar circumstances. It is now up to Florida’s legislature to re-sentence Hurst, and requires that a jury make the decision on whether capital punishment is appropriate or not based solely on the facts of the case.
Although the death penalty is still permitted in Florida, this new US Supreme Court ruling is considered a major victory for criminal defendants who may be facing capital punishment. Aside from Hurst, there are 400 more inmates currently lined up on death row who are affected by this new ruling. Many are suggesting that Florida must totally abolish the death penalty instead of attempting to re-sentence all the 400 death row inmates should they request for litigation and re-assessment of their cases.
Broward Criminal Lawyer
Broward criminal attorney, Kenneth Padowitz, strategically defends those accused of crimes in both State and Federal courts. If you have been accused or charged with a crime, or believe you may be charged in the future, contact Kenneth Padowitz, P.A. today to discuss this important matter and speak with our attorney directly.