Criminal defendants have numerous rights that extend even after they are convicted of crimes, especially if they are juveniles at the time they allegedly engaged in unlawful activity. For example, a juvenile that is convicted of an offense is protected from being sentenced to mandatory life imprisonment without parole. Recently, a New Jersey court discussed the parameters and implications of this prohibition, in a case in which the defendant appealed a life sentence issued when he was seventeen on the grounds that it was unlawful. If you are a minor charged with a crime, it is important to confer with a knowledgeable New Jersey criminal defense attorney regarding your rights.
Facts of the Case
It is reported that in 1976, the defendant was charged with multiple crimes when he was seventeen, including murder and armed robbery. He was then indicted on numerous other charges, including intent to steal and escaping from a youth corrections center. He ultimately pleaded not guilty to the murder and intent to steal charges in exchange for dismissal of the remaining charges. He was then sentenced to life imprisonment.
Allegedly, during his imprisonment, the defendant was found guilty of over one hundred infractions, almost forty of which were serious. In 1990 he engaged in a riot during which a prison guard was stabbed. He was charged and convicted of multiple counts relating to the riot and was ultimately sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment with a parole bar of close to seven and a half years. He was subsequently denied parole multiple times. He then filed a motion arguing that his life sentence was illegal under recent case law.