The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola


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juvenile, Elgin criminal defense attorneyIn 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court found that giving a life sentence to a juvenile with no possibility of parole violated the juvenile’s Constitutional rights. Specifically, the justices found that such a sentence was barred by the "cruel and unusual punishment" clause of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution. However, after that decision there was some confusion about if the ban only applied to new sentences, or if it applied to older cases as well.

Decision Retroactive

In January of 2016 the Court held that its 2012 decision in the case Miller v. Alabama should be applied retroactively. This means that every juvenile in the country who was given a life sentence without the possibility of parole prior to the 2012 decision is entitled to a resentencing hearing. At the time of the decision, Illinois had some 100 inmates who would require resentencing. Some of the inmates had served decades in prison.

What Happens at a Resentencing Hearing

The juveniles that qualify for a resentencing hearing will not automatically be released. Likely, many will continue to serve lengthy sentences, but will have the terms of the sentence modified.

During a resentencing hearing the court will need to take into account what the U.S. Supreme Court called the inmates’ "transitory immaturity" when imposing a sentence. All of the inmates will have to be given the chance to apply for parole at some future date. The prosecution will be able to present evidence as to why leniency in a given case is not appropriate. The inmates will have the chance to present evidence about mitigating factors and why the court should impose a more lenient sentence. However, lengthy, decades-long sentences may still be imposed if the court decides the crimes and the circumstances warrant it.

 This most recent decision does not mean the end of litigation over sentences for juvenile offenders. Any juveniles who are resentenced to lengthy prison terms may seek to appeal the resentencing as either not in keeping with the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court or on some other ground.

It is also expected that lawyers for inmates convicted as juveniles that are given lengthy sentences will continue to try limit the length of a sentence imposed by arguing that if a life sentence without possibility of parole is cruel and unusual, a sentence that only releases a juvenile as an old man or woman is also cruel and unusual and therefore unconstitutional.

If you have been charged with a crime or have questions about pursuing a resentencing hearing, contact an experienced Elgin criminal defense attorney. We are equipped to help you understand the law and your available options to ensure you are treated appropriately throughout every step of the process. Call 847-488-0889 to schedule a free consultation at the The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola today.


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juvenile, Illinois law, Illinois criminal defense attorneyThe Illinois state legislature has sent a bill to Governor Bruce Rauner that would give juvenile court judges more control over the transfer of juvenile defendants to the regular court system. If the governor approves the new law, it is expected to reduce the number of juveniles tried as adults by half or more, according to estimates. By doing so, proponents hope, rehabilitative and intervention programs available to juveniles can increasingly break the cycle of crime, keeping more young people entering into a lifetime of criminal trouble.

As the setting for the nation’s first juvenile court in 1899, Illinois—specifically Cook County—has remained at the forefront in the fight against juvenile crime. Over time, however, stricter laws have led to increased prosecution and penalties against younger and younger defendants. Currently, children as young as 13 years old may be tried as adults in Illinois, depending on the nature of their alleged crimes. Despite the developmental differences between children and adults, the prosecution of juveniles as adults is often automatic. A child defendant may never even appear in juvenile court before being pushed into the adult system.

The new law, if approved, will dramatically decrease the automatic transfer of juvenile defendants. Only those who are at least 16 years old and charged with murder, aggravated battery with a firearm, and aggravated criminal sexual assault would be subject to an automatic transfer. All other juvenile defendants would be required to appear before a juvenile court judge for a hearing. Based on consideration of a number of factors, including nature of the crime, likelihood for rehabilitation, mental capacity, and others, the judge would decide whether to keep the case in juvenile court or transfer it to the adult system.

With a renewed focus on rehabilitation, the proposed law would be "a great step forward for long overdue juvenile justice reform in Illinois," said Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, who sponsored the bill in the State House. Although her intent was to eliminate automatic transfers entirely, Nekritz recognized that compromise is sometimes necessary to achieve progress. Governor Rauner’s office has not yet acted on the measure, promising only to "carefully consider any legislation that crosses his desk."

Until these changes are approved, certain criminal charges may force a juvenile’s case into the regular justice system. If you or your child is in such a situation, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Elgin. Our team of compassionate legal professionals will help you understand your options and work with you in protecting your rights under the law. Call 847-488-0889 to schedule your free consultation today.

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