Under the law, the most serious crime is a capital felony, like murder or armed kidnapping. However, some rape and sexual assault charges are capital felonies, especially when the crime involves a minor.
This includes the Florida death penalty for child rapists, which Florida lawmakers approved in April, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law on May 1, 2023.
Here’s what you need to know about the new legislation for child rapists and the death penalty.
Florida House Backs Death Penalty in Child Rapes
CBS Miami reported on April 13, 2023, that in Tallahassee, House lawmakers voted on bill HR 1297, sponsored by Jacksonville Republican Jessica Baker, that allows capital punishment for those who commit sexual battery on children under the age of 12 if the jury can secure a vote of at least 8-4.
This bill is in opposition to state-level case Buford v. State of Florida and federal-level case Kennedy v. Louisiana. In these two instances, the judges ruled against execution for sexual assault of children.
Currently, the crime is a life felony under Florida Statute 794.011, meaning those convicted will likely receive a life sentence.
House Bill 1297 impacts the “sentencing phase” of cases. Juries would still be required to unanimously find defendants guilty of the crimes before the sentencing phase would begin.
Those sentenced to death under this law could seek a federal appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. If the High Court holds that the new law is unconstitutional, the sentence would revert to life imprisonment.
Anyone suspected of committing sexual battery against a minor under 12 should retain a Florida sex offense lawyer or potentially face steep consequences.
The Law Challenges a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court Ruling
In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in the case Kennedy v. Louisiana that a death sentence for child rapists violates the Constitution’s 8th Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.
The new law allowing a jury to sentence child rapists to the death penalty in Florida would be the first substantial law to significantly challenge this Supreme Court precedent.
Unsure How House Bill 1297 Impacts You? Contact Mike G. Law
The Florida death penalty for child rapists makes it even more crucial for those accused to seek criminal justice, especially if they are innocent.
If you’re facing a sexual battery charge, get help now with your court case from the criminal defense lawyers at Mike G. Law. We work diligently for all those facing prosecution.