15-year-old Jacksonville boy charged as an adult in March murder

Prosecutors have charged a 15-year-old as an adult in the shooting death of a Jacksonville man. The teen and two others were not invited to a March party in a Jacksonville apartment, but showed up anyway and soon got into an argument with the victim, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The victim was pistol whipped and shot in the head, according to the newspaper, and died several days after the incident.

The teen is charged with second-degree murder, which has a penalty of up to life in state prison – though recent Supreme Court decisions have not thought highly of life sentences for juveniles, even in Jacksonville Murder Cases. Both other men with the victim were also arrested – a 26-year-old charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and a 19-year-old charged with possession of a firearm by a juvenile delinquent, the newspaper reported. In Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Cases, the state has the option to try the case in juvenile court or can choose for what is called a “direct file” and move the case directly to adult court. That is often the option local prosecutors choose, especially in Jacksonville Gun Crimes Cases and Jacksonville Murder Cases. One of the interesting aspects in this case is the charge of second-degree murder. Once the facts come out in the case, it will be more apparent if premeditation was there that would qualify it for first-degree murder, but it does lead one to wonder if the state filed it as second-degree murder in part to keep mandatory life off the table.

In first-degree murder cases, the only possible sentences are life in prison or the death penalty. The state cannot seek death when the defendant is a juvenile, so the only other option is life in prison. But, last year a state court overturned the life sentence of a Jacksonville man who was 16 when he robbed and stabbed a man to death in 2010. In second-degree murder, the judge can sentence a defendant to anywhere from 25 years to life in prison – but the key for this Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Case is that is cannot be life – or a sentence of, for example, 70 years, which is essentially a life sentence. The Legislature and courts are still working on what the state deems fair in sentencing juveniles, and there will likely be several more contested sentences before there is a resolution as to what is appropriate.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.