Gilbert v. State

487 So. 2d 1185 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1986)



Judgment will not be reversed for failure to give a particular charge where, on the whole, the charges as given are clear, comprehensive and correct.


Upon trial by jury, Roswell Gilbert, aged 75, was found guilty of the premeditated murder of his wife, Emily, in contravention of section 782.04(1)(a)1, Florida Statutes  and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Under section 775.082, Florida Statutes (1981), there is a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years. Thus, Mr. Gilbert would be incarcerated until he reached the age of 100 years before he would be eligible for release. Appellant's judgment of conviction was affirmed. The court held that no error was committed because the matter was adequately and correctly covered by the standard jury instruction.


Should courts consider mitigating circumstances in a case where defendant is faced with a statutory mandatory minimum sentence?




The Court held that the absolute rigidity of the statutory mandatory minimum sentences do not permit consideration of factors outside the sentencing guidelines and do not take into account any mitigating circumstances. Whether such sentences should somehow be moderated so as to allow a modicum of discretion and whether they should allow distinctions to be made in sentencing between different kinds of wrongdoers, for instance, between a hired gangster killer and one, however misguided, who kills for love or mercy, are all questions which, under our system, must be decided by the legislature and not by the judicial branch. 

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