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New Supreme Court Ruling Could Release Thousands of Inmates

The Supreme Court ruling announced they will allow those inmates who were sentenced as individuals that are currently serving life-without-parole sentences will have a chance to argue their release from prison.

New Supreme Court Ruling Could Release Thousands of Inmates

The new ruling will expand a 2012 Supreme Court decision. That decision struck down mandatory life sentences without parole for juveniles. This new ruling will now make it so that that 2012 decision can be applied retroactively to inmates currently serving sentences. Juvenile advocacy groups estimate that number to be about 1,200 to 1,500 cases.

Of those, more than 1,100 inmates are concentrated in Pennsylvania, Louisiana and Michigan. Previously, officials had decided in these states that the 2012 ruling would not be retroactive. Inmates in those states should be given a chance to either be re-sentenced or argue for parole, according to Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who wrote the new 6-to-3 decision.

Montgomery v. Louisiana

The 2012 ruling was re-opened in a sense due to a lawsuit brought by Henry Montgomery of Louisiana. Montgomery was 17 in 1963 when he was convicted of shooting and killing sheriff deputy Charles Hurt.

Montgomery, now 69, believes that his rehabilitation in prison should have made him eligible to be considered for parole. Initially, the Supreme Court rejected his plea, saying the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling of Miller v. Alabama was not retroactive. The new ruling handed down on Monday now says that Miller v. Alabama is retroactive.

“Prisoners like Montgomery must be given the opportunity to show their crime did not reflect irreparable corruption; and, if it did not, their hope for some years of life outside prison walls must be restored,” Justice Kennedy wrote.

In the ruling, Kennedy acknowledged the court’s 2012 Miller decision recognized a judge “might encounter the rare juvenile offender who exhibits such irretrievable depravity that rehabilitation is impossible and life without parole is justified.”

He believes that the new ruling’s lesson was that “children’s diminished culpability and heightened capacity for change” often cast doubt on mandatory life sentences, and that this “harshest possible penalty will be uncommon.”

Next Steps for Inmates

Inmates affected by the court’s new ruling will most likely need to bring individual claims or requests for parole, according to juvenile-justice experts.

As is proven by this new ruling, juvenile offenses can have life-long-lasting implications. If your child has been charged with committing a crime, you’ll need to work with a criminal defense attorney.

Juvenile Defense and Criminal Defense Attorneys

For a parent, having your child arrested and charged with an alleged crime is one of the most traumatic experiences you could have. Having an experienced Juvenile Defense Attorney can help turn a possible negative outcome into a positive one.

A Criminal Defense Attorney who also specializes in Juvenile Defense has the extensive experience necessary to handle all aspects related to Juvenile Court matters. Having a Juvenile Defense attorney representing you and your child many times can help keep the matter out of the Juvenile Court system, as well as minimize potentially serious consequences that arise from your child being arrested and detained.

The Juvenile Court System in California handles matters that are associated with juvenile law, such as cases involving juvenile delinquency and juvenile dependency.

Juvenile Delinquency vs Juvenile Dependency

Cases of Juvenile Delinquency involves charges associated with violations of criminal laws committed by a “minor,” defined as somebody under 18 years of age. In San Diego County the Juvenile Courts are located in San Diego, El Cajon, Vista, and Chula Vista. In Los Angeles County they are located in Inglewood, Long Beach, Torrance, Compton, Downey, Pasadena, Pomona, Sylmar, East Los Angeles, and Bakersfield for cases in Kern County.

Cases of Juvenile Dependency involves charges against parents or guardians for child abuse or child neglect committed against a “minor,” defined as somebody under 18 years of age. Minors charged with alcohol or drug possession are handled in an informal juvenile traffic court. To ensure any records remain clean for your child, it’s imperative that you have an attorney experienced in Juvenile Delinquency and Dependency handling their case in Juvenile Court.

Proceedings in Juvenile Court

Whether the court involved deals with family, probate, juvenile, or dependency, your child has the following rights:

  • The right to representation by an attorney.
  • The right to have witnesses present on the child’s behalf.
  • The right to confront, subpoena, and cross-examine witnesses.
  • The right to have a public hearing.
  • The right to have evidence presented.
  • The right to an appeal of the verdict.

These rights encompass the basic Miranda Rights:

  • You have the right to remain silent.
  • Anything you say or do may be used against you in a court of law.
  • You have the right to an attorney.
  • If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you.
  • Do you understand these rights as they have been read to you?

If your child could face prison if they are found delinquent of the alleged charge, they may be entitled to an attorney if they can’t afford one, per the Miranda Rights. As a general rule, court proceedings in Juvenile Courtare sealed, meaning the records are confidential and not accessible to the general public. However, some states don’t always seal juvenile records automatically, so the child must request that their records be sealed.

While a juvenile has a right to trial by jury, if they have been determined delinquent, there’s jeopardy attached and they could be retried for the same alleged crime.

The goal of California’s adult correctional system is punishment, but the goal of the juvenile court justice system is treatment and rehabilitation. To accomplish this task the system has an array of programs and methods to address juvenile crime, depending on the offense’s severity and the juvenile offender’s background. Some of these programs and methods include fines, detention, treatment programs, incarceration, community service, and community supervision.

For offenses with a higher severity, the juvenile court justice system also includes formal or informal probation, incarceration, and detention. Because the goal of the juvenile justice system is rehabilitation instead of punishment, other agencies and institutions play a role including schools, community-based organizations, and social services agencies.

Juvenile Court and Charging as an Adult

Probation officials, police, and the District Attorney have been given broad discretion by the Juvenile Court Justice system where it comes to the way juvenile offenders are treated. After being arrested, the police have the option to either take them to juvenile hall or release them to their parents.

The juvenile law of Proposition 21 has been modified by the state legislature to permit the transfer of a juvenile offender from juvenile court to adult court, where they would be tried as an adult for certain serious and/or violent felony crimes, such as murder. Juveniles as young as 11 have been tried as adults. A judge will decide the appropriateness of transferring a juvenile to the adult court system in most cases, but if a crime is particularly serious the prosecutor may charge the minor directly to be tried as an adult.

A minor has the same constitutional rights in the Juvenile Court System as an adult. Like an adult they have the right to have their Miranda rights read to them, including permitting them the right to not make statements to the police unless their attorney is present. Minors also have the right to request that their parents be present before law enforcement questions them. However, since the police are not required to let a minor know this before interrogating them or taking their statement, it’s imperative to retain a Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney as soon as your juvenile has been arrested and charged with an alleged crime in order to protect their constitutional rights.

One note to consider is the fact that school officials, counselors, and teachers are not required to advise a juvenile of their constitutional Miranda rights prior to their being questioned, unless they are doing the advising at the direction of the police.

Whenever a minor has been accused of a juvenile crime an attorney should be retained to represent them in all juvenile court proceedings. Unlike adult court, in juvenile court a minor is not entitled to have a trial by jury, instead they have an “adjudication” which is trial before a judge. The burden of proof is still the same for a minor as for an adult, which means there must be “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” that the alleged crime was committed by the minor. Due to the potential serious and life-altering circumstances of being accused of a crime, you should immediately consult a Juvenile Defense Attorney.

If your child has been arrested for an alleged crime you need the expertise of a Juvenile Defense Attorney such as Sevens Legal, APC. Contact Sevens Legal, APC, today for a free consultation.

Sevens Legal, APC
Criminal Defense Attorneys
3555 4th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92103
Phone: (619) 297-2800

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