Prosecutors announced this month that they have charged a 15-year-old boy with first-degree murder in the killing of a store clerk. The boy is accused of demanding money from a convenience store clerk and then shooting him when the clerk wasn’t moving fast enough, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. After the shooting, the boy got into a stolen car driven by a 16-year-old boy who led police on a high-speed chase into another county, the newspaper reported. The 15-year-old boy is also charged with armed robbery with a firearm and aggravated assault with a firearm, the newspaper reported. All three are serious felony charges, but the main charge in this case is first-degree murder.
In a typical St. Johns County Murder Case, there are two possible sentences if someone pleads guilty to or is convicted of first-degree murder: life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty. However, the sentencing possibilities are different in this case because the defendant is only 15 years old. He can still be charged as an adult in this St. Johns County Murder Case, but he cannot be sentenced as an adult would be. For example, the death penalty is not an option when juveniles are convicted of murder. Also, there must be some chance for release, even if it ends up being denied. The state prosecutor told the newspaper it would likely be 40 years before the release would be considered, assuming the boy either pleaded guilty or was convicted by a jury. So he could be sentenced to life in prison, with the condition that he could apply for release in 40 years, or whatever length of time the judge deems appropriate. Courts have gone back and forth on life sentences for juveniles and the laws have been driven recently by the U.S. Supreme Court. Justices have struck down life sentences for juveniles, but have left it up to individual states to determine the lengths of sentences – even though the federal courts have ruled that 70-year sentences for juveniles are too long and essentially amount to a life sentence.
On serious felony charges, such as murder and armed robbery, it was highly unlikely the state would ever choose to prosecute the case in juvenile court. But even in adult court, there are still sentencing guidelines that differentiate between boys and men. Our St. Johns County Juvenile Crimes Attorney has represented hundreds of teens on a variety of charges, from misdemeanors on up to serious felonies in adult court, as this boy is charged with. Our St. Johns County Criminal Defense Attorney will thoroughly investigate the case against you or your loved one and provide information so you can make the best decision on how to proceed with the case.
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 Duval County Juvenile Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.