Board Certified Criminal Trial Law Attorney
Candidate for Hillsborough County Court Judge, Group 2
This article highlights some of the criminal justice related bills that were signed into law by the governor during the 2017 legislative session. The summaries are taken from legislative analyses and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect those of the author of this article. Please read the legislation itself for a more in depth understanding of the bills.
Sentencing for Capital Felonies, SB 280, signed 3/13/17, effective 3/13/17
- SB 280 amends the death penalty sentencing statutes to require jury unanimity in death penalty sentencing procedures. In October 2016, the Florida Supreme Court determined in Hurst v. State that in order for the death penalty to be imposed the sentencing phase jury (if the jury was not waived) must vote unanimously for a death sentence. The Hurst v. State ruling was applied to the 2016 death penalty sentencing statutes challenged in Perry v. State. Amending ss. 921.141 and 921.142, F.S., to require unanimity in the jury vote for death will satisfy the constitutional requirements announced by the court in the Hurst and Perry
Public Records Exemption for Murder Witnesses, HB 111, signed 5/10/17, effective 7/1/17
- HB 111 exempts from public records disclosure law the personal identifying information of a witness to a murder for two years from the date the murder is observed by the witness. However, a criminal justice agency may disclose the information to the parties in a pending criminal prosecution as required by law.
Law Enforcement Body Cameras, HB 305, signed 5/10/17, effective 7/1/17
- HB 305 requires law enforcement agencies to establish policies and procedures authorizing an officer’s review of camera footage of an incident before writing a report or providing a statement.
Reduction of Criminal Penalties for Certain Acts, SB 608, died in Transportation Committee
- SB 608 would have reduced the penalties numerous criminal acts. Notably, it would have
- Reduced driver’s license suspension upon controlled substance possession conviction from 1 year to 6 months
- Raised the threshold for Grand Theft from $300.00 to $1,000.00
- Deleted the felony enhancement for three or more convictions for petit theft
Nonjudicial Expunction of Criminal History Records, SB 980, died in Criminal Justice
- SB 980 would have provided for nonjudicial expunction of criminal history records upon application and approval by Florida Department of Law Enforcement for any case that did not result in a conviction, with some exceptions. There would not be any limit on the number of nonjudicial expunctions by a person. It also would have amended some current limitations on eligibility and procedures.
Public Records Exemption for Dismissed Domestic Violence Protective Injunctions, HB 239, signed 5/9/17, effective 7/1/17.
- HB 239 exempts from public record requests a petition, and the contents thereof, for an injunction for protection against domestic violence, repeat violence, dating violence, sexual violence, stalking, or cyberstalking that is dismissed without a hearing, dismissed at an ex parte hearing due to failure to state a claim or lack of jurisdiction, or dismissed for any reason having to do with the sufficiency of the petition itself without an injunction being issued.