Anniversary of Birth Critical for Juvenile Sentencing
One of the most important aspects of any criminal proceeding involving a minor is determining his official age in the eyes of the court. Whether the accused is a juvenile or adult has immeasurable consequences in terms of both sentence applied and the long-term ramifications of that sentence. Thus, one of the many responsibilities of a Berrien County criminal attorney is establishing clear documentation confirming the true age of the defendant.
According to a recent ruling out of Michigan appellate court, the age of a defendant and his status as a juvenile should be determined exclusively by the anniversary of his birth. The ruling came as the result of a case in which a defendant was tried as an adult due to his alleged crime occurring two hours before his eighteenth birthday. The initial sentencing court worked off the common law that a person reaches the next year of age on the day preceding the anniversary of his birth and sentenced the defendant as an adult. In a subsequent appeal, the ruling was overturned based on the idea that an individual remains a juvenile until the anniversary of his birth occurs:
“By this calculation, defendant remained ‘under the age of 18’ at the time he committed the instant homicide offense and is therefore entitled to be treated in accordance with the United States Supreme Court’s rule in Miller.’”
In other words, the initial court erred by trying the defendant as an adult. If you’re curious as to whether this ruling applies to you, it’s advisable to speak with an experienced criminal attorney as soon as possible. An experienced, knowledgeable attorney will look at the details of your case and help you figure out how the ins and outs of the law apply.