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Changes In Death Penalty Legislation


When states seek the death penalty for a person, it is often because the person engaged in murder or some other violent crime. But what about sexual battery — cases in which a victim is not killed? Should it be allowed?

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis seems to think so. He signed a bill in late April allowing the state to seek the death penalty in sexual battery cases in which an adult victimizes a child under the age of 12.

You may think this punishment seems unusually harsh, and many people would agree with you. In fact, this legislation would be in direct violation of the U.S. Supreme Court, which finds it unconstitutional for states to use capital punishment like the death penalty for a crime other than murder.

The ruling says that the death penalty should not be used in cases where the victim’s life was not taken. However, DeSantis does not agree and is prepared to overrule existing precedent and take this law all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The legislation goes into effect in October. It would require a minimum sentence of life in prison without parole for those who have committed sexual battery against young children under 12 years old.

In order for the person to face the death penalty, prosecutors will be forced to identify at least two aggravating factors. Possible factors include whether or not the defendant has a history of sexual predation or whether or not they hold a custodial position over the child. Cases could be resentenced if the law is later deemed unconstitutional.

The bill received bipartisan support in the Legislature. State Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book co-sponsored it.

DeSantis claims that the only appropriate punishment for those who rape or otherwise sexually offend children is the ultimate punishment. This bill sets up a procedure to challenge that precedent. He says he stands for the protection of children.

Another thing to consider is that DeSantis signed a bill in April that would lower the threshold for imposing a death sentence. What this means is that a jury could recommend execution without a unanimous vote.

This can be frightening, considering that Florida has had more exonerations from death row than any other state. This means that many of the alleged criminals who are facing the death penalty are officially cleared after new evidence of innocence becomes available. There is a strong possibility that a person on death row could actually be innocent.

Seek Help for Your Case

If you have been accused of a sexual offense and are seeking a defense attorney, please schedule a free consultation with the attorneys at Madonna Law Group by emailing us at attorneys@madonnalawgroup.com, filling out the online form, or calling at (800) 557-0411.



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