TITUSVILLE, FLORIDA — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis signed three bills to preserve law and order in Florida. The governor was joined by Attorney General Ashley Moody and Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey at the American Police Hall of Fame & Museum in Titusville to sign historic legislation cracking down on the most heinous crimes.
Speaking to a packed room of supporters and law enforcement officers, DeSantis said Florida is leading the nation in the rule of law.
“In Florida, we’ve rejected the soft-on-crime policies,” DeSantis said. “We support law enforcement and we did two years in a row where every sworn law enforcement officer in the entire state of Florida received a $1,000 bonus after taxes.”
Attorney General Ashley Moody said that in Florida “we stand for the rule of law, we back our blue, and we treat offenders as they should be treated – not as victims, but as criminals who deserve to be behind bars.”
DEATH PENALTY FOR SEXUALLY ASSAULTING A CHILD
Defying a U.S. Supreme Court precedent, Florida now allows the death penalty for the rape of children under 12. Under HB 1297 it is now a capital offense for someone to sexually assault a young child.
“In Florida, we stand for the protection of children,” DeSantis said as he explained that some of the most heinous sex crimes are committed against children under the age of 12 years old. “The perpetrators of these crimes are oftentimes serial offenders… If they rape a child once… chances are they will do it again unless they are stopped and unless they are incapacitated.”
The governor said that in Florida, when it comes to the worst of the worst cases, the only appropriate punishment is the “ultimate punishment.”
HARSHER FENTANYL-RELATED PENALTIES
HB 1359 amends Florida Statutes to inflict harsher penalties for offenses related to fentanyl or fentanyl derivatives. Under the new law, anyone who sells, manufactures, or delivers fentanyl would face a minimum mandatory prison sentence of three years. In addition, anyone 18 or older convicted of trafficking in fentanyl – including targeting the drug toward children – would face a life sentence with a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years and a $1 million fine.
“The stakes are very, very high when you start talking about fentanyl,” DeSantis said. “People that put fentanyl in things like candy that are then trafficked to children need to be treated like murderers – because they are murdering people.”
STRICTER PRE-TRIAL DETENTION
An individual who is arrested for committing a criminal offense is generally entitled to pretrial release on reasonable conditions unless that person is charged with a capital offense or a felony punishable by life imprisonment. Bail is a common monetary condition of pretrial release that requires offenders to pay a set sum of money to the court to be released from jail.
But in an effort to keep repeat offenders off the streets, HB 1627 now requires the Florida Supreme Court to develop a uniform statewide bond schedule by January 1, 2024. The law also prohibits the chief judge of a judicial circuit from allowing a bond lower than the uniform schedule without specific approval from the Supreme Court.
DeSantis said judges who play around with bonds by allowing criminals back on the streets are putting people at risk.
“The small subsection of the population that commit crimes tend to commit crimes over and over again until they are stopped,” DeSantis said. “We don't want to take somebody who is part of the criminal element and just put them right back into circulation where they're able to commit additional crimes.”