Hale v. State




Florida Supreme Court

Citation and Year

630 So. 2d 521 (Fla. 1993)

Constitutional Provision or State Statute

Fl. Const., art. I, § 17 (“cruel or unusual punishment shall not be inflicted”)

Nature of Case

Hale was convicted of selling and possessing cocaine with the intent to sell it. Under Florida’s sentencing guidelines, the recommended sentence for Hale was between four and half years and five and a half years. But because Hale had previously been convicted of a violent felony, the sentencing court was permitted to add enhancements to Hale’s sentence. Hale was sentenced to two consecutive 25-year “habitual violent felony offender” terms; each term required Hale to serve a minimum of 10 years. Among other claims, Hale argued that his sentence constituted cruel or unusual punishments as prohibited by article I, section 17 of the Florida Constitution.


The Florida constitution is arguably a broader constitutional provision than the Eighth Amendment and protects against sentences that are either cruel or unusual.


The Florida Supreme Court declined to specify the scope of the State’s antipunishment clause, but noted the federal test for disproportionate and unconstitutional sentences set forth in Solem v. Helm, decided in 1983, sets the bare minimum. The court further recognized that the Florida Constitution guards against cruel or unusual sentences—presumably a more exacting limitation than the 8th Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishments. Although the court explicitly found Hale’s sentence to be neither cruel nor unusual, the court opened the door to more aggressive proportionality challenges based on the Florida Constitution.