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Marshall v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, First District

August 23, 2019

Travis D. Marshall, 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 Leon County. Martin A. Fitzpatrick, Judge.

          Andy Thomas, Public Defender, and Kathleen Stover, Assistant Public Defender, Tallahassee, for Appellant.

          Ashley Moody, Attorney General, and Tabitha Herrera, Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee, for Appellee.

          Per Curiam.

         Appellant, Travis D. Marshall, challenges his convictions and sentences for burglary of a dwelling, grand theft, and petit theft, offenses he committed at the age of twenty-one. We affirm as to both issues Appellant raises on appeal and write only to address his argument that the minimum mandatory fifteen-year prison sentence he received on the burglary count as a prison releasee reoffender ("PRR") is unconstitutional pursuant to Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), and Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48 (2010), for the reason that he qualified for it only because of prior crimes he committed when he was a juvenile.

         The constitutionality of a sentence is reviewed de novo. Nelms v. State, 263 So.3d 88, 90 (Fla. 4th DCA 2019); see also Andrews v. State, 82 So.3d 979, 984 (Fla. 1st DCA 2011) (explaining that constitutional issues are reviewed de novo and "when considering Eighth Amendment issues, appellate courts must yield 'substantial deference to the broad authority that legislatures necessarily possess in determining the types and limits of punishment for crimes, as well as to the discretion that trial courts possess in sentencing convicted criminals'" (quoting Solem v. Helm, 463 U.S. 277, 290 (1983)).

         "Prison releasee reoffender" means a defendant who commits or attempts to commit an enumerated offense, such as burglary, within three years after being released from a correctional facility following incarceration for an offense for which the sentence is punishable by more than one year. § 775.082(9)(a), Fla. Stat. (2017). If the State seeks PRR sentencing and proves that the defendant is a PRR, the court must sentence the defendant to at least fifteen years of imprisonment for a second-degree felony. Id. A person sentenced as a PRR may be released only upon expiration of the sentence, shall not be eligible for parole or any form of early release, and must serve 100% of the court-imposed sentence. § 775.082(9)(b), Fla. Stat. As such, "[t]he PRR statute is a mandatory minimum provision that creates a sentencing floor." Cotto v. State, 139 So.3d 283, 286 (Fla. 2014).

         In Graham, the Supreme Court held that the imposition of a life without parole sentence on a juvenile offender who did not commit a homicide constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. 560 U.S. at 74. Juvenile nonhomicide offenders' limited culpability, the severity of the sentence of life without parole, and the lack of penological justification for the punishment for such offenders led the Court to conclude that the sentencing practice was cruel and unusual. Id. (explaining that a state need not guarantee a juvenile nonhomicide offender's eventual release, but it must afford some realistic opportunity to obtain release before the end of the life term based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation). The Court drew the "clear line" at the age of eighteen for the purposes of its holding. Id. at 74-75 (citing Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005), where the Supreme Court held that the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments prohibit the imposition of the death penalty on juvenile offenders and recognized that "[t]he qualities that distinguish juveniles from adults do not disappear when an individual turns 18," but concluded that the line must be drawn at the age of 18 because that is "the point where society draws the line for many purposes between childhood and adulthood").

         Subsequently, in Miller, the Supreme Court held that a mandatory life without parole sentence for a juvenile offender violates the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment because it prevents consideration of juveniles' lessened culpability and greater capacity for change. 567 U.S. at 465, 479. The Court focused on the fact that "Roper and Graham establish that children are constitutionally different from adults for purposes of sentencing" and on the reasons why "juveniles have diminished culpability and greater prospects for reform." Id. at 471. The Court again defined juvenile offenders as those under the age of eighteen at the time of their crimes. Id. at 465, 470-71, 473, 489.

         In response to Graham and Miller, the Florida Legislature in 2014 enacted juvenile sentencing laws. The juvenile sentencing laws are codified in sections 775.082, 921.1401, 921.1402, Florida Statutes, and apply to defendants who are convicted of certain offenses they committed when they were under the age of eighteen and who are sentenced to a term of life imprisonment or its equivalent.

         Here, Appellant argues that his mandatory day-for-day PRR sentence is unconstitutional pursuant to Graham and Miller and he should be resentenced under the juvenile sentencing statutes. We find Appellant's argument to be without merit for a number of reasons. First, Appellant was sentenced as a PRR for an offense he committed as an adult; therefore, Graham, Miller, and the juvenile sentencing statutes are inapplicable. Appellant tries to avoid this conclusion by contending that while the mandatory sentence was not imposed for an offense he committed as a juvenile, it was imposed because of offenses he committed as a juvenile. While that is true to the extent that he could not have received the PRR sentence absent the prior offenses he committed as a juvenile, it overlooks the fact that he is not challenging the sentences for the offenses he committed as a juvenile and he could not have received the PRR sentence had he not committed the new offenses as an adult.

          Indeed, Appellant's argument ignores and defeats the purpose of the PRR statute, which is to punish certain reoffenders to the fullest extent and thereby deter recidivism. See § 775.082(9)(d)1., Fla. Stat. ("It is the intent of the Legislature that offenders previously released from prison who meet the criteria in paragraph (a) be punished to the fullest extent of the law . . . ."); State v. Hearns, 961 So.2d 211, 217 (Fla. 2007) ("The PRR statute . . . is intended to deter recidivism by imposing longer sentences on repeat offenders."); Mobley v. State, 983 So.2d 630, 632 (Fla. 5th DCA 2008) (explaining that the legislative intent behind the PRR statute is to punish certain reoffenders to the fullest extent of the law).

         Regardless, courts have consistently declined to extend the holdings of Graham and Miller and the applicability of the juvenile sentencing statutes to offenders eighteen years of age or older. See Romero v. State, 105 So.3d 550, 551-53 (Fla. 1st DCA 2012) (rejecting the eighteen-year-old offender's argument that his sentence of life without parole for murder was unconstitutional pursuant to Graham because of his youth and the attendant factors; holding that for Graham to apply, the offender must have been a juvenile at the time of the commission of the offense; and noting that "[n]ot a single court in this country has extended Graham to an adult offender. On the contrary, several courts have reaffirmed that Graham is inapplicable to adult offenders."); see also McCray v. State, 247 So.3d 721, 722 (Fla. 1st DCA 2018) (per curiam affirming with a citation to Romero as holding that Graham does not apply to a defendant eighteen years of age or older); Wilson v. State, 249 So.3d 800 (Fla. 1st DCA 2018) (same); Jean-Michel v. State, 96 So.3d 1043, 1045 (Fla. 4th DCA 2012) (rejecting the appellant's argument that his three consecutive life sentences for nonhomicide crimes were unconstitutional pursuant to Graham because he was nineteen years old at the time of the offenses and emphasizing ...


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