St. Joseph Michigan Criminal Defense Blog

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Decision on Resentencing “Lifer” Juveniles Goes to Judges Not Juries

juvenile crime

Cutting down on juvenile crime is a significant concern in today’s society. One way in which society tries to deter juveniles from committing crimes, especially violent crimes, is by issuing tough adult punishments to young offenders to get them off of the street and keep them off of the street for a long time. The punishments juveniles receive are often as severe as the punishments that adults who commit the same crimes would receive.

One such punishment is life without parole, a punishment that is handed to some of the worst juvenile offenders in the state. The appeals court of the state of Michigan has recently ruled that judges instead of juries should make the decision as to whether a juvenile offender will be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Furthermore, the U.S. Supreme Court has determined that this punishment should be reserved for a select few of the worst juvenile offenders. Any juvenile facing this type of sentence should contact Peter J. Johnson Law Office, PLLC, a leading criminal defense lawyer in Berrien County for proper counsel.

Michigan Court of Appeals determines that Judges Should Decide When Juveniles are sentenced to Life without Parole

The opinion was set forth in the case of the People v. Kenya Ali Hyatt which took place on July 21, 2016. In the case, the defendant, Hyatt, had been convicted of first degree murder when he was seventeen years old, a crime for which he was sentenced to life in prison without parole. In an earlier case, People v. Perkins, the court had issued the opinion that a jury must decide whether a juvenile who is convicted of murder is sentenced to life without parole.

The United States Supreme Court recently determined, earlier in 2016, that juveniles convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole must either be considered for parole or resentenced; this determination was made in the case of Montgomery v. Louisiana. According to the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court only juveniles whose crimes demonstrate that the juvenile is irreparable and corrupted should be subjected to a sentence of life without the possibility of parole; for all other juveniles, even those who have been convicted of murder, a life without the possibility of parole sentence is unconstitutional. This recent Supreme Court ruling is in line with that of Miller v. Alabama which occurred in 2012 and held that automatic life sentences with no parole for juveniles convicted of murder is unconstitutional.

What This Means for Michigan Juvenile Defendants

Following the United States Supreme Court decision in Montgomery v. Louisiana, many juveniles who have been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole may get their sentence reviewed or be resentenced. Several factors which are set forth in the Miller v. Alabama case are to be used to evaluate whether the juvenile is the type of rare juvenile who is so corrupt that he or she should not be considered for parole later in life. Furthermore, judges, not juries, are to make the determination of whether or not a juvenile is sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

If you know a juvenile who is facing the possibility of receiving life without the possibility of parole or a juvenile serving that sentence whose sentence may need to be reviewed, you need an experienced and reputable criminal defense lawyer in Berrien County such as Peter J. Johnson Law Office, PLLC on your side. For further information or to schedule an appointment please contact Peter J. Johnson Law Office, PLLC today at 269.982.1100 or visit www.AttorneyPeterJohnson.com.

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