Florida: New death penalty law for child rape goes into effect

Starting this October 1, people who commit sexual battery on children under the age of 12 could be sentenced to death.

This Sunday, October 1, a new law goes into effect that could allow judges in Florida to impose the death penalty on people who rape children under the age of 12.

This is the most controversial measure of the bill package approved by Governor Ron DeSantis last May. The law would allow people who commit sexual assaults against children to receive the death penalty.

This is a regulation promoted by Governor Ron DeSantis under his "Let Kids Be Kids" bill package.

Unfortunately, in our society, we have very heinous sex crimes that are committed against children under the age of 12 years old, These are really the worst of the worst. The perpetrators of these crimes are often serial offenders.

Under the law, judges would have the discretion to impose the death penalty or sentence defendants to life in prison. If fewer than eight jurors recommend the death penalty, judges would have to impose a life sentence.

The Florida House of Representatives amended section 794.011 of Bill 1297 (HB 1297) to authorize the use of the death penalty for capital sexual battery offenders who assault a child under 12 years of age.

Sexual battery of a child under 12 years of age, or attempted sexual battery resulting in injury to the child's sexual organs, committed by a person in a position of familial or custodial authority is also a capital offense.

Florida courts will have a separate sentencing procedure to determine the death penalty. In this sense, the law would affect what is known as the sentencing phase of cases. Juries would still have to unanimously find defendants guilty of the crimes before the sentencing phase, which could lead to the death penalty, can begin.

The measure was approved by 34-5 in the Senate and by 95-14 in the House of Representatives. The measure measure will likely be legally challenged.