Two West Palm Beach teens are accused of shooting and killing an 18-year-old girl over a bag of marijuana and severely injuring a 14-year-old boy. The teens are both 16 years of age, one male and one female. They are facing charges of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, and robbery. Yes, it’s illegal to steal someone’s marijuana.
Police are not releasing the names of either the victims or the suspects due to their age. However, the teens have been indicted by a grand jury, so they have officially been charged and will face trial for this murder. It is highly unlikely that the State of Florida would pursue juvenile charges in a case like this. The crime was sinister and blackhearted. They are essentially accused of murdering someone to take what they had.
That being said, the law protects juveniles from life sentences, the death penalty, and other remedies that would typically be available to the prosecution. In this article, we’ll take a look at how the trial will play out.
Are juveniles protected from maximum sentences?
Yes. Juveniles cannot be given the death penalty even if they are charged as adults (at least not anymore). Nor can they ever be given life sentences without the possibility of parole without a judge reviewing their case. To sentence a juvenile to life in prison, the court must find that they are irreparably corrupt. Most courts are unwilling to make that ruling against a juvenile. However, Florida law allows judges to avoid reviewing the matter of age if the sentence allows the individual to get out of prison at some point in their lives. So sentencing a juvenile to a 40-year sentence is still within the purview of the court. In this case, the individuals would be released when they were 56 or so. This would avoid the requirement for a judge to review the sentence and consider the age of the defendant in the matter.
Approaches to juvenile justice
Florida prosecutes juveniles as adults with much more frequency than other states. In fact, Florida prosecutors have broad discretion to file adult charges directly against juveniles without any judicial oversight. This has raised the alarm for many social justice activists who believe that the law unfairly targets people of color and that there are no checks and balances within the system to ensure that the matter is handled fairly.
However, murder charges against 16-year-olds would be prosecuted as adult charges in just about every state in the U.S. Murder is one crime that is taken very seriously regardless of the age of the perpetrator. Lawyers argue that locking them up and throwing away the key is wrong only because they have a significant opportunity to change and become a different person whereas adults are who they are, according to the law. Nonetheless, the juveniles wind up in adult prison.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
The Skier Law Firm, P.A. handles criminal cases in South Florida. Call our West Palm Beach criminal lawyers today to discuss your situation in more detail and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.