Eliminate Florida's felony murder rule
  • Petitioning Andy Gardiner

This petition will be delivered to:

Majority leader of Senate
Andy Gardiner
Minority leader of the house
Ronald Saunders
Governor
Rick Scott
Florida State Senate President
Mike Haridopolos
Minority leader of Senate
Nan Rich
Speaker of the House
Dean Cannon
Majority leader of the house
Carlos Lopez-Cantera

Eliminate Florida's felony murder rule

    1. Melissa Higgins
    2. Petition by

      Melissa Higgins

      Merrimack, NH

Melissa Shuler and I are asking the state of Florida to abolish the felony murder rule. States like Michigan, Kentucky, and Hawaii have found it unconstitutional.

Florida's felony murder rule is unjust. The legislation makes it possible for prosecutors and courts to distribute inequitable punishments, particularly when it comes to juveniles and young adults. Clear examples of abuses of the felony murder doctrine include, but are definitely not limited to, the following:

1) The charging of 12 year old Cristian Fernandez for aggravated child abuse and murder in response to the unintentional death of his younger sibling. State Attorney Angela Corey sought to try Cristian as an adult for the two above charges, exposing him to the mandatory penalty of life without parole if he is convicted. Please see the petition asking the State Attorney to reverse the decision to try Cristian as an adult, exposing him to this rule.

2) Curtis Shuler was 16 when he was charged with murder and burglary. At his trial a significant number of witnesses provided Curtis with an alibi for the night of the shooting. The only evidence against him was the original statements of the other perpetrators charged with the crime. One of the men who accused him of being involved later testified at the trial that Curtis was not present during the car burglary/murder, but the damage was done and the jury convicted him of burglary. The same jury found that Curtis was not guilty of assault or murder; however, the felony murder doctrine allowed the courts to give Curtis the maximum sentence possible: life without any possibility of parole. Please see the petition Melissa Shuler started for Curtis, her husband.

3) Ryan Holle was 20 when charged under the felony murder rule. In 2003, Holle lent his car to his roommates. He was hungover from a prior evening of drinking and partying when the roommates informed him they were going to rob a man of his marijuana. During the robbery the men murdered an 18 year old girl. Though Holle was about a mile and a half from the scene of the crime and had no prior knowledge of a murder, he was convicted under the felony murder rule and sentenced to life without parole. Please read more about Ryan's case here and here.

The felony murder rule has been eliminated in three states because it has been deemed unconstitutional. Florida's application of this law demonstrates a need to eliminate it and seek other methods for ensuring fair and equal justice. This law is especially abused when it comes to minors or young people under the age of 21. This doctrine robs people in Florida of a second chance and holds them just as accountable as those who perpetrate crimes with premeditation and malice.

Please join me and Melissa in our effort to compel Florida to abolish this law by signing the petition and sharing it with others.

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Reached 1,500 signatures
    2. Unequal Justice

      Melissa Higgins
      Petition Organizer

      Documentary accessible at this link describes a juvenile case involving the felony murder rule. The case took place in another state that uses this law similarly to Florida.

    3. Why abolish the felony murder rule?

      Melissa Higgins
      Petition Organizer

      Reasons why the felony murder rule is unjust.

    4. The felony murder rule

      Melissa Higgins
      Petition Organizer

      Description of the law and discussion of cases involving this doctrine.

    5. Reached 750 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • laurel skinner ST. PETERSBURG, FL
      • 26 days ago

      Victims of this terrible sentences family

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Matthew Ross HEATH SPRINGS, SC
      • 29 days ago

      Brother is charged with murder because he stole chainsaws and then the victims beat one of his friends to death. So one of his accomplices died while he was stealing chainsaws... therefore... murder? what?

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • WILL Day BILLINGSHURST, UNITED KINGDOM
      • about 1 month ago

      Dependent on one’s values, I would venture to say that it does not conform to Christian values; it does not conform to strict logic. Arguably, the felony murder rule holds that the potential “guilty party” must be held accountable for the collateral offence of not just crime A that they were party to, but also crime B which he / she may have had no foresight or knowledge of (foresight measured with foresight, and not hindsight) .Furthermore, everything is a foreseeable consequence to some extent, but what degree of probability constitutes foreseeability? Perhaps we can see and agree that the danger to life represented by the getaway driver in an armed robbery .However, what makes it right to apply that same principle to the youth who is out with his friends when a spontaneous act breaks out and an altercation with one of his friends and a stranger results in the strangers death? By design, the felony murder rule is incapable of determining shades of grey, and therefore fails on a cornerstone of justice, that of proportionality. The scope of the felony murder rule has been held as indefensible; in its present form I believe that to be true. Some States will only allow a felony murder charge if the predicated offence is an inherently dangerous one.Moreover,was there a fundamental difference between what P committed and what D foresaw?If so D should rightly be viewed as innocent to crime B. U.S. Supreme Court case from 1895, Coffin v. U.S. "it was better to let the crime of a guilty person go unpunished than to condemn the innocent."

      In U.K criminal law, Blackstone's formulation; "It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer"

      Matthew Hale “death without the stroke or other violence makes not the

      homicide.” Participation in crime had two implications for homicide

      liability. First, it precluded the defendant from excusing a killing as provoked

      or as necessary for defence. Second, it made an offender complicit in another

      participant’s killing, but only if she had also used or agreed to the use of

      violence in committing the crime. The felonious character of the crime was

      irrelevant.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Theresa Scafidi FORT WALTON BEACH, FL
      • 3 months ago

      My daughter is facing the felony murder charge now.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Deborah Berry POMONA PARK, FL
      • 4 months ago

      family member in prison for to long

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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