The Michigan Court of Appeals has recently ruled that Michigan’smandatory sentencing statute requiring a life sentence for a juvenile convicted of first-degree murder is unconstitutional. The court follows the case of Miller v. Alabama which held that state statutes requiring life sentences for a juvenile violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
Raymond Carp was convicted of first degree murder when he was 15 years old. In People v. Carp the court had written a 40-page opinion in which they declared the statute unconstitutional under Miller, however they refused to remand the defendant’s case for resentencing. The Court stated that Miller is a procedural rule change rather than a substantive rule change and that it does not meet any criteria that would allow it to be applied retroactively. Judge Michael Talbot has urged the Legislature to rework the juvenile sentencing to abide by Miller, but he finds it unacceptable in the interim to remand cases to the trial courts for resentencing.
The new standards for trial courts to follow when sentencing juveniles convicted of first degree murder are as follows:
The character and record of the individual offender [and] the circumstances of the offense,
The chronological age of the minor,
The background and mental and emotional development of a youthful defendant,
The family and home environment,
The circumstances of the homicide offense, including the extent of his participation in the conduct andthe way familial and peer pressure may haveaffected [the juvenile],
Whether the juvenile ‘might have been charged and convicted of a lesser offense if not for incompetencies associated with youth, and
The potential for rehabilitation.
A juvenile charge or conviction can be life altering for a young person. Our juvenile defense attorneys
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