A Florida law that would impose the death penalty on convicted child rapists has gone into effect.

As WLTReport noted, Florida lawmakers pursued legislation that would “allow the death penalty for people who commit sexual battery on children under age 12.”

State Lawmakers Pursuing Death Penalty for Child Rapists

HB 1297 passed the Florida Legislature and Gov. DeSantis signed the bill into law.

The bill will likely be taken to the Florida and/or U.S. Supreme Court.

“In the past, the U.S. Supreme Court and Florida Supreme Court ruled that capital punishment in rape cases is unconstitutional,” WLTReport noted.


The bills argue that the court cases were “wrongly decided.”

Gov. DeSantis said in May:

Today, I signed legislation that will:
– Makes child rapists eligible for the death penalty with the minimum sentence of life in prison without parole
– Impose additional penalties on fentanyl and drug-related crimes targeted at children
– Protect Floridians from disastrous bail “reform” policies


“In Florida, we believe it’s only appropriate that the worst of the worst crimes deserve the worst of the worst punishment,” DeSantis wrote.


CBS News wrote earlier this year:

In a rebuke of the court precedents, the House and Senate bills say that a 1981 Florida Supreme Court case and a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court case were “wrongly decided,” with the Senate version saying “such cases are an egregious infringement of the state’s power to punish the most heinous of crimes.”

Senate bill sponsor Jonathan Martin, a Fort Myers Republican who is a former prosecutor, said the bill would create needed “constitutional boundaries by providing a sentencing procedure for those heinous crimes” that would be similar to death-penalty laws for murder.

“If an individual rapes an 11-year-old, a 10-year-old, a 2-year-old or a 5-year-old, they should be subject to the death penalty,” Martin said Tuesday after the Rules Committee approved his bill.

Aaron Wayt, who represented the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers at Tuesday’s meeting, said people want “vengeance” when children are victims of sexual battery, but he pointed to U.S. Supreme Court precedent on the issue.

“This bill invites a longer, costlier (legal) process for the victim and their family that they will endure,” Wayt said. “While this crime, anyone convicted of it is vile, heinous, the Constitution itself, the case law, the Supreme Court demands a maximum of life in prison. And so while it’s not the vengeance we all want, it’s the justice that the Constitution demands.”

“Florida’s law allowing the death penalty for child rapists is now in effect. The minimum sentence is life in prison without parole. In Florida, anyone who harms children in such a horrific way will never walk free,” Gov. DeSantis said Tuesday.

News 4 JAX reports:

A number of new laws are now in effect, as of Sunday. Arguably the most controversial centers around changes to Florida’s death penalty. Child rapists can now face execution for their crimes.

The law specifically pertains to child victims under the age of 12. Higher courts have already said imposing death sentences in these types of cases is a violation of the 8th Amendment. While some say the law is still a measure of protecting children, others say different.

Florida courts now have a green light to send child rapists to death row. It was a measure that received bipartisan support as it rose through Tallahassee.

Upon signing it into law, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said: “These are really the worst of the worst. The perpetrators of these crimes are often serial offenders.”

Maria DeLiberato is the executive director of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. She does not disagree.

“Of course, Child sexual battery is one of the most horrific crimes that one can think of,” said Mario DeLiberato, Executive Director, Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

DeLiberato, an attorney herself, explains even though the law is now technically in effect in Florida, the Supreme Court would first have to reverse its initial ruling for it to apply to a particular case.


“The legislature, to their credit, acknowledged that when they passed it right, they said, ‘we know this isn’t the law, we just hope the law will get change,’ said DeLiberato.

Florida’s Voice added:

Under the law, a person convicted of sexual battery could be sentenced to death under the suggestion of eight out of 12 jurors. Judges, however, are permitted to overrule the decision and instead impose a sentence or life in prison.

If fewer than eight jurors approve capital punishment, then the defendant will automatically receive a life sentence.

In each case, prosecutors are ordered to give 45 days notice from the arraignment date to both the defendant and court if they plan to seek the death penalty. In addition to, prosecutors must submit a list of aggravating factors to prove the state’s case beyond a reasonable doubt.

The mandate is subjected to change if good cause is shown to the court by the prosecution.

Florida’s law could be challenged under Kennedy v. Louisiana, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that prevents executing rapists.

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