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Graham v. Florida

United States Supreme Court
560 U.S. 48 (2010)



At the age of sixteen, Terrance Graham (defendant) pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and was sentenced to three years’ probation with the first year to be served in the county jail. Six months after being released, Graham and two other individuals, Bailey and Lawrence, committed a home-invasion robbery and held two men at gunpoint while ransacking the home looking for cash. During a second robbery attempt, Bailey was shot. After driving Bailey to a hospital and leaving him there, Graham and Lawrence were flagged down by a police officer but refused to stop. Shortly thereafter, Graham crashed the vehicle into a telephone pole and attempted to flee on foot, but he was apprehended. These events occurred thirty-four days short of his eighteenth birthday. Thus, Graham was still considered a juvenile. The trial court found that Graham had violated his probation by committing the home-invasion robbery, possessing a firearm, and associating with persons engaged in criminal activity. Because the Florida Legislature had abolished the parole system, the trial court sentenced Graham to the maximum sentence–life in prison without the possibility of parole for the home-invasion, plus fifteen years in prison for the attempted armed robbery. Graham appealed. The Florida Court of Appeal affirmed the sentence, and the state’s supreme court denied review. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Kennedy, J.)

Concurrence (Roberts, C.J.)

Concurrence (Stevens, J.)

Dissent (Thomas, J.)

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