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Graham v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, First District

August 14, 2019

Terrence Jamar Graham, Appellant,
v.
State of Florida, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.

          On appeal from the Circuit Court for Duval County. Angela M. Cox, Judge.

          Henry M. Coxe, III, of Bedell, Dittmar, DeVault, Pillans & Coxe, P.A., Jacksonville; Bryan S. Gowdy and Daniel Mahfood of Creed & Gowdy, P.A., Jacksonville, for Appellant.

          Ashley Moody, Attorney General, Tallahassee, for Appellee.

          ROWE, J.

         Terrence Jamar Graham appeals an order denying his postconviction motion challenging the sentence imposed during a 2017 resentencing hearing. Graham successfully appealed his original sentence of life without parole. Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48, 74-75 (2010). He was resentenced in 2013 to a term of twenty-five years' imprisonment. After the Florida Legislature enacted new juvenile sentencing laws in 2014, Graham challenged his sentence again, arguing that he was entitled to a sentence review under the new laws. In 2017, the court reimposed the twenty-five-year term but granted Graham a sentence review after twenty years. Graham argues that his most recent sentence is illegal, asserting that the new juvenile sentencing laws violate equal protection because under the plain language of the laws, a juvenile homicide offender may receive a sentence review sooner than a juvenile nonhomicide offender. We disagree and affirm.

         Factual and procedural background[1]

         In July 2003, when Graham was 16 years old, he and three other juveniles tried to rob a restaurant in Jacksonville, Florida. During the robbery, Graham's accomplice twice struck the restaurant manager in the back of the head with a metal bar. Graham and his accomplice then ran outside without taking any money and escaped in a car driven by the third accomplice. The restaurant manager required stitches for his head injury.

         Graham was arrested and tried as an adult. He was charged with armed burglary with assault or battery, a first-degree felony carrying a maximum penalty of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, §§ 810.02(1)(b), (2)(a), Florida Statutes (2003), and attempted armed robbery, a second-degree felony carrying a maximum penalty of fifteen years' imprisonment, §§ 812.13(2)(b), 777.04(1), (4)(a), 775.082(3)(c), Florida Statutes.

         Graham pleaded guilty to both charges. The trial court withheld adjudication of guilt and sentenced Graham to concurrent three-year terms of probation with the condition that he serve the first twelve months in county jail. Graham served the twelve-month sentence and was released from jail in June 2004.

         Less than six months later and thirty-four days short of his eighteenth birthday, Graham was arrested again, this time for committing an armed home invasion and fleeing. At the revocation hearing, the State presented evidence that Graham held the victim at gunpoint while his codefendants robbed the home and then locked the victim in a closet. The State also presented evidence that Graham confessed to police that he was involved in "two or three" other robberies the night before. Graham denied at the hearing any involvement in the home invasion robbery but admitted to violating probation by fleeing. The trial court then revoked Graham's probation. Graham was sentenced to life imprisonment for the original offenses of armed burglary with assault and attempted armed robbery.

         Graham appealed his sentence, and his case made its way to the United States Supreme Court. In 2010, the Supreme Court reversed Graham's life sentence, holding that the Florida laws allowing juvenile nonhomicide offenders to be sentenced to life without parole violate the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48, 74-75 (2010).[2]

         In 2013, Graham's case was remanded to the circuit court, and he was resentenced to twenty-five years' imprisonment.

         In response to Graham and Miller, the Florida Legislature enacted new juvenile sentencing laws in chapter 2014-220, section 1-3 Laws of Florida, now codified in sections 775.082, 921.1401, and 921.1402, Florida Statutes. The new laws relate to juveniles convicted of "certain serious felonies" and require courts to conduct an individualized sentencing hearing before sentencing juvenile offenders to life imprisonment.

         The laws also allow juvenile offenders to seek judicial review of their sentences after fifteen, twenty, or twenty-five years- conditioning when an offender may receive a sentence review on (1) the nature of the offense, (2) criminal intent, and (3) the length of the sentence. The first classification is based on the nature of the offense and distinguishes primarily between juveniles who commit offenses under section 782.04, Florida Statutes (the murder statute), and juveniles who commit offenses not included in section 782.04. The second classification is based on criminal intent. For juvenile offenders convicted of a homicide offense under section 782.04, the statute distinguishes between those offenders who actually killed, intended to kill, or attempted to kill their victims and those offenders who did not.[3] The final classification is based on the length of the sentence imposed. Sentence review is available only if the juvenile has been ...


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