Another long Jacksonville juvenile crime sentence gets review from a higher court

The 70-year prison sentence of a Jacksonville teen found guilty of attempted first-degree murder when he was 14 was sent to the Florida Supreme Court this week for review. The case is being reviewed following last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found sentencing juveniles to life in prison for crimes other than murder was cruel and unusual punishment, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The sentenced at issue was also a Jacksonville juvenile case, where a teen convicted of armed robbery was sentenced to life in prison. His sentenced has since been reduced to 25 years. The Supreme Court ruling affected more than 200 cases, but 70 percent were in Florida, the newspaper reported, and Jacksonville has certainly had its share. The case discussed last week involves Shimeek Grindine, who was 14 when he shot a man during a Jacksonville robbery attempt in 2009.

The appellate court decision to send Grindine’s case for another look centers on what exactly constitutes a life sentence in practical terms. For Grindine, he would be in his mid-80s if he did the full sentence. Even if he received gain time and did the 85 percent of the sentence most inmates actually serves, he’d get out in his mid-70s. There is was no timetable given as to when Grindine’s case might be heard by the Florida Supreme Court. Interestingly, as the sentences handed down to juveniles are getting attention for their severity, more and more Jacksonville youth are seeing their cases handled in adult court, rather than in the juvenile system established for kids under the age of 18. When juveniles are charged with serious felonies, the state can do what is called a “direct file,” meaning they will put the case in regular court and the defendant will face the same penalties an adult would. That practice is becoming more and more common in Northeast Florida, particularly in Clay County and Duval County.

Last year, Jacksonville prosecutors filed first-degree murder charges against Cristian Fernandez, who was 12 at the time he was accused of killing his 2-year-old half-brother. Most recently, a 16-year-old who was in the home and had drugs in his pocket when a Clay County detective was shot during a meth raid was charged as an adult with felony murder. There used to be a time where a record that stuck with you was the major concern for juveniles charged with crimes. Now, it’s serious time in serious prison, and you need an experienced Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Attorney to help work through the process. Our Jacksonville juvenile lawyer has represented hundreds of youth charged with crimes and can start negotiations early in hopes of keeping the charges in juvenile court where they belong, and minimizing the long-term damage on the child’s future.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm, PA at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our Duval County juvenile crimes lawyer is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.