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Florida Appellate Court Reverses Trial Court For Not Considering Juvenile's Mitigation Evidence at Resentencing

Fifth District Court of Appeal clarifies that trial courts must consider a defendant’s mitigation or rehabilitation completed while incarcerated at resentencing.

Florida Appellate Court Reverses Trial Court For Not Considering Juvenile’s Mitigation Evidence at Resentencing

Fifth District Court of Appeal

Trial Courts Must Consider Juvenile’s Mitigation Evidence at Resentencing

In 2015, the Florida Supreme Court decided that juvenile’s unconstitutionally sentenced in the past would be afforded a resentencing. See, e.g., Falcon v. State and Horsely v. State.

One of those juveniles unconstitutionally sentenced was Donald Branton. Recently, at Branton’s resentencing, the trial court decided that it did not have the authority or discretion to even consider Branton’s ensuing ten years of mitigation or rehabilitation completed while incarcerated. Branton appealed the trial court’s decision.

Fifth District Court of Appeal Reverses

The Fifth District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s decision. The appellate court determined the trial court essentially prevented Branton the ability to present any meaningful evidence prior to being resentenced.   Branton was afforded a new resentencing hearing before a different judge.

Therefore, as clarified by the Fifth District Court of Appeal, a court must consider at resentencing a defendant’s mitigation or rehabilitation completed while incarcerated. This is because the original, illegal sentence is now considered a nullity and the trial court must consider all issues to ensure the defendant is properly resentenced.

*Photo courtesy of the Fifth District Court of Appeal

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