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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 74140 Find in a Library
Title: Developments in the Application of Florida's Capital Felony Sentencing Law
Journal: University of Miami Law Review  Volume:34  Issue:3  Dated:(May 1980)  Pages:441-497
Author(s): J A Boyd; J J Logue
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 58
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The Florida capital felony sentencing law, as amended in response to the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Furman v. Georgia, is discussed; construction and application of the statutory provisions for sentencing and appellate review are emphasized.
Abstract: Before the Court's decision in 'Furman,' Florida law recognized a number of crimes as capital, notably first degree murder and rape. In addition to limiting the use of the death penalty by dividing murder into degrees, pre-Furman Florida law further restricted its use by providing for discretionary sentencing. In the Court's decision, death sentences in the cases under review constituted cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the 8th and 14th amendments. Within 6 months of the decision, Florida became the first State in the Nation to reinstate capital punishment for crimes deemed capital felonies. These two crimes are murder in the first degree and sexual battery by a person 18 years of age or older upon a person 11 years of age or younger. Capital felonies are punishable by death or life imprisonment; a separate proceeding is held on the issue of which penalty to impose. Under the capital felony sentencing law, all evidence that the court considers relevant to the sentencing question is admissible. The judge must justify a departure from the jury's recommendation of either life imprisonment or death, according to recent Florida case law. In addition, the judge must make written findings of fact in support of the imposition of the death sentence. In considering the propriety of the sentence of death, certain circumstances of the offense may be considered aggravating. These circumstances include a capital felony committed by a person already under sentence of imprisonment, previous conviction for another capital felony, knowing creation of a great risk of death to many persons, capital felony committed for pecuniary gain, and an especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel capital felony. Article footnotes total 308.
Index Term(s): Capital punishment; Felony; Florida; Judicial decisions; Sentencing reform; Sentencing/Sanctions; State laws; US Supreme Court
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