Criminal charges can be scary, especially if the penalties could be in life in prison or a death sentence. Sarasota criminal defense attorney Erika Valcarcel has more than 13 years of legal experience. She will aggressively fight for you in court, and she will work to obtain the best possible outcome in your case. Call her today at (941) 363-7900.

The state of Florida currently houses almost 400 individuals who have been sentenced to death. Such figures are second only to California. Florida is also among the few states that have actively implemented the death sentence in recent years. However, a U.S Supreme Court decision made earlier this year means inmates currently on Florida death row may have their sentences changed to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

Florida’s Sentencing Process Deemed Unconstitutional

The U.S Supreme Court recently considered the constitutionality of the sentencing system in Florida. What existed was a procedure in which a judge, not a jury, could make the final decision regarding sentencing. While a jury could issue an “advisory sentence,” only a judge was required to provide written reasons that a defendant was being sentenced to death. The Court ruled that the practice was unconstitutional.

Unfortunately, the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court has created confusion. The current law has been changed significantly; however, there is a difference in opinions as to the application of the decision and new law to current cases associated with individuals on death row. Some people believe that the decision was not intended to apply retroactively to inmates currently on death row. However, others argue that all sentences in which a judge made the final decision regarding a death sentence are unconstitutional and should be changed. The issue is currently unresolved.

Is There Hope for Florida Death Row Inmates?

In response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, a group of legal scholars filed an amicus brief in the Florida Supreme Court to determine the questions surrounding the sentences of people currently on death row. They claimed many prisoners should have their death sentences replaced with sentences of life in prison without parole. Those prisoners are entitled to a sentence reduction if their death sentences was unconstitutional.

In opposition, many claim that the U.S. Supreme Court did not deem the death penalty to be unconstitutional, just the system that governs its imposition. Thus, the attempt to reduce sentences is unfounded.

Until the confusion is sorted out, the execution of the death penalty is at a standstill. The outcome of the Florida Supreme Court decision will significantly affect the lives of those currently on death row.

How a Sarasota Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You

Despite the confusion regarding prior sentences, the current law regarding death penalties has been changed. Going forward, a judge cannot overrule a jury. If you have been charged with a crime, regardless of the possible penalty, Sarasota criminal defense attorney Erika Valcarcel can help. Call her at (941) 363-7900 to find out your legal options.

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