Earlier this month, a sixteen year old Florida teen was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the attempted murder of a transgender woman. According to a report by NBCNews.com, the teen thought that the transgender victim was a biological woman, when she had actually been assigned male at birth. This upset the teen, so he followed the victim into a vacant house and shot her.
According to police, the victim pretended to be dead and watched as the teen fled. But then, as the victim began to get up, the teen came back and shot her again.
Both the teen and his grandmother took the stand during the sentencing hearing and pleaded for the court to have mercy on the teen. The teen’s grandmother explained that he did not grow up with a male role model and that, despite this crime, her grandson “has a very good heart. He’s funny. He’s kindhearted. He has a problem.”
The teen told the court that this experience brought him closer to God and explained: “I know my actions won’t go unpunished. I know that. I just feel like I need help. I feel like I need another chance.”
Mitigating Circumstances in Serious Felony Cases
After a jury decides to convict a defendant, the defendant still must be sentenced. This can be done by the jury or the judge, depending on the circumstances, but most often the judge has the final say at sentencing.
During a sentencing proceeding, the defendant will often have family members take the stand and testify to the good nature of the defendant. This might convince the judge or jury to be more lenient when deciding what the appropriate punishment will be.
It is also critically important for the jury to know everything about the defendant and how it is that he or she ended up being where they are. The following are all questions that an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorney should find out before a sentencing hearing:
- Was there a significant history of childhood abuse?
- Did the defendant have caring, loving parents growing up?
- Did the defendant grow up in abject poverty?
- Was there any traumatic event that triggered a change in the defendant’s mental capacity or outlook?
- Does the defendant suffer from any physiological or psychological disorders?
- Has the defendant ever been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
- Was the defendant ever the victim of sexual abuse as a child?
By explaining the full picture to the sentencer, a defendant may be able to better allow the jury to understand who the defendant is and why he or she did what they were just convicted of doing.
Have You Been Charged with a Serious Criminal Offense in Florida?
If you have been charged with a criminal offense in or around the Jacksonville area, you need to enlist the assistance of an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorney immediately. The longer your attorney has to develop you case, the more convincing an argument he or she can make to the jury, whether it be in the guilt or punishment stage of the trial. Click here to contact an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorney online, or call 904-634-0900 today to schedule a free initial consultation.
See More Blog Posts:
Florida State Quarterback Jameis Winston Will Not Face Sexual Assault Charges, Jacksonville Criminal Attorney Blog, December 5, 2013.
Jacksonville Man Recently Convicted for Sexual Assault, Jacksonville Criminal Attorney Blog, December 9, 2013.