Florida’s Statutory Sentencing Provisions, the Sixth Amendment, and the Province of the Jury: A Study in Constitutional Conformity

This Article analyzes a criminal defendant’s right to a public trial as it pertains to criminal sentencing regimes to demonstrate the unconstitutionality of Florida’s current sentencing regime and ultimately to propose a legislative rewrite. First, the Article discusses the historical evolution of the Sixth Amendment in the United States, including an analysis of the Supreme Court’s seminal decisions in this realm. Second, the Article focuses on the ways in which Sixth Amendment jurisprudence have shaped the criminal sentencing landscape in Florida. Specifically, the Article asserts that a Florida statute requiring the court to make factual findings resulting in an increased sentence beyond statutory maximums is unconstitutional in part in light of the Sixth Amendment, which reserves the evaluation of such judicial fact finding to the jury. Lastly, the Article proposes a legislative rewrite to cure the statute’s deficiencies to bring it under the umbrella of constitutional, criminal sentencing regimes.