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Does this Florida man deserve a life sentence?

In 2003, a 20-year-old kid from Florida was having a typical drunken night of revelry with his friends. Before falling asleep that night, he agreed to let his roommate borrow his car, something he’d done on many occasions. When he woke up, his life had changed forever.

According to Florida law, an accomplice to certain felonies—like arson, rape, kidnapping and burglary—in which someone dies can face murder charges. He’d made himself an accomplice when he let his roommate borrow his car.

The roommate and three other men used the car to drive to a drug dealer’s home. Their intention was to rob the dealer’s safe, but, while committing the crime, one of the men hit the dealer’s daughter, who was 18 years old, in the head with the butt of his shotgun several times. The blows killed her and landed the man, and the sleeping accomplice, in prison for life with no chance of parole.

This case begs the question: should an accomplice to a crime, regardless of how significant or insignificant their role, be hit with the full extent of the law? Should they receive the same sentence as the actual perpetrator of the crime? Are there not varying degrees of punishment to fit the details of each particular crime, or should every offense be one-size-fits-all?

The answer the state of Florida seems to give, at least with this case as a barometer, is a resounding “yes.”

Cases like these illustrate the importance of having legal representation at all times, especially when facing a criminal conviction for a violent crime that could lead to harsh penalties.

Source: bangordailynews.com, “When the time doesn’t fit the crime,” May 9, 2014

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