Fla. Senate Passes Bill Raising Minimum Age for Death Penalty

The Florida Senate has passed a bill raising the minimum age for the death penalty to 18. Currently, the state has no minimum.

Capital punishment would be reserved for murderers 18 or older when committing their crime under the bill (SB 224) sponsored by Sen. Victor Crist, R-Tampa. No Florida law regulates how old a criminal must be to receive the death penalty, though the standard in case law is for those 18 and older.

Similar laws have passed in Wyoming and North Dakota. In New Hampshire, the legislature passed the bill but Gov. Craig Benson has said he will veto it.

Unfortunately, there may not be enough time left in Florida's legislative session to get the bill passed by the House and enacted into law. On the other hand, failure to pass it could put Florida's death penalty law for adults in jeopardy:

Driving the measure is a U.S. Supreme Court case that will determine the constitutionality of executing juveniles. If the high court rules against it, Florida's capital punishment laws, which make no separate provisions for minors, would be thrown out.

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Victor Crist, R-Tampa, who has introduced it every year for the past five years.

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