Have Florida’s Juvenile Criminal Laws Ignored US Supreme Court?

Florida Juvenile Defense Attorney

Where do we draw the line? They are children.

On my Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer blog, I have written articles about Christian Fernandez (Jacksonville Juvenile Criminal Lawyers Fight In Fernandez Murder Case).  I have posted articles about Joshua Phillips on this Jacksonville attorneys website (Jacksonville Juvenile Criminal Case from a Different Perspective).   The blog articles that I posted were due to recent changes in the law.  They had to do with Jacksonville Florida Juvenile Delinquents Affected by Supreme Court Case.  The U.S. Supreme Court released an opinion that many Jacksonville criminal lawyers believed would result in major changes in juvenile sentencing laws.  I was very excited when I wrote an article and stated:

“On March 20, 2012, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Miller v. Alabama, another landmark juvenile criminal case.  On June 25, 2012, the Supreme Court released its ruing.  The Court has long held that the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment ‘guarantees individuals the right not to be subjected to excessive sanctions.’  It has been established ‘that children are constitutionally different from adults for the purposes of sentencing.’ ‘Juveniles have diminished culpability and greater prospects for reform… they are less deserving of the most severe punishments.’  In Miller, the Supreme Court held that 8th Amendment of the United States Constitution ‘forbids a sentencing scheme that mandates life in prison without the possibility of parole for juvenile offenders.’  The court reasoned, ‘The mandatory penalty schemes at issue here prevent the sentence from taking account of these central consideration…these laws prohibit a sentencing authority from assessing whether the law’s harshest term of imprisonment proportionately punishes a juvenile offender.’”

Jacksonville juvenile lawyers believed that children that were convicted of murder would be given a second chance.  For example, look at Christian Fernandez.  He is still being tried as an adult.  If anything, the U.S. Supreme Court case shows that we are not treating juveniles properly.  The Florida Times Union had an excellent article about Christian Fernandez’s case and Florida’s juvenile justice system.  It stated:

“Clearly, this case shows the Legislature needs to address sentences for major juvenile crimes and review mandatory sentences, which are too rigid, remove too much discretion from judges and result in needlessly long and costly incarcerations even for nonviolent offenders. Florida leads all other states in sending juveniles to the adult court system but is behind other states in modernizing how it handles juvenile justice. Nationwide, there has been a trend toward rehabilitating violent and repeat offenders in the juvenile justice system instead of the adult system even for felonies that include murder. The Legislature is expected to take up juvenile justice reform next year at the urging of the Department of Juvenile Justice and several organizations that deal with juvenile delinquents.”

It appears that the legislature has not addressed this problem.  Joshua Phillips is still sitting in Florida State Prison with a life sentence without the possibility of ever being released.  Christian Fernandez is still being treated as if he were a 30-year-old man.  Perhaps Florida’s legislature is taking so long due to the complications of the juvenile laws?  Maybe not.  Massachusetts’s governor has already started with reform for juvenile laws in his state.  Where does Florida’s governor stand?  Read Reform for Floridas Juvenile Justice Laws and Life Sentences.

About Cynthia, 20 Miles Law

Cynthia Veintemillas

Jacksonville Criminal Lawyer Cynthia Veintemillas Photo

Cynthia Veintemillas is an experienced Florida attorney. She began her legal career at the public defender’s office in Jacksonville, Florida. Her primary practice fields include criminal defense, litigation, and family law. She has also represented many people facing foreclosure in Duval County, Clay County, and St. Johns County, Florida.

Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice

  • Florida, 2006
  • South Carolina, 2007
  • Middle District of Florida, 2009

Professional & Bar Association Memberships

  • Florida Bar 
Member Since: 2006
  • South Carolina 
Member Since: 2007
  • Jacksonville Bar 
Member Since: 2008
  • Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers


Have Florida’s Juvenile Criminal Laws Ignored US Supreme Court? — 33 Comments

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