Haddonfield Criminal Lawyer Discusses the Constitutionality of Retroactivity When Laws Change
In 1963, a 17 year-old African American male from Louisiana was convicted and sentenced to death for the killing of a white police officer. Six years later, the conviction was reversed due to racial tensions surrounding the case. As a result, the man was found guilty without capital punishment and sentenced to life without parole. The prisoner is now 69 years old and has spent the last 52 years of his life in prison.
Three years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case of Miller vs. Alabama and ruled that it was unconstitutional to sentence a juvenile to life in prison without the possibility of parole. That meant that any person convicted of a capital offense that was a juvenile at the time the crime was committed could be sentenced to no more than 35 years in prison for that crime. With this new ruling, the aforementioned defendant is back in U.S. Supreme Court asking for consideration that his sentence be redefined, giving him the possibility of freedom for the 52 years he has served for the crime he committed when he was 17 years old.
The Montgomery case presently before the courts raises the question of retroactivity, and to what degree we need to consider in re-litigating cases according to new standards or changes in the law. In 1963, Montgomery was convicted and sentenced according to the laws in place at that time. Life without the possibility of parole was the only alternative to a death sentence, and life without parole meant just that; no chance of parole – ever. What the court must decide in this case is whether Montgomery has the constitutional right to prove that he has been reformed and whether he deserves to be free under the new ruling on juvenile sentencing.
The Louisiana Supreme Court ruled that the decision in Miller vs. Alabama does not apply retroactively to Montgomery’s case. One question still remains. Does the U.S. Supreme Court now have the jurisdiction to review and possibly overturn the Louisiana State Supreme Court’s decision? All eyes will be watching as this case unfolds because many in prison today convicted of capital crimes committed while they were juveniles will undoubtedly want to know if their sentences could be reversed.
Haddonfield Criminal Lawyer Michele Finizio Represents Those Charged with Criminal Offenses in New Jersey
Being charged with a crime is serious business, and individuals facing a possible conviction need to enlist the help of a qualified and experienced criminal defense attorney. Haddonfield criminal defense lawyer, Michele Finizio, is committed to ensuring that the legal rights of her clients are protected while she works to have charges dismissed or downgraded. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime in New Jersey, call Michele Finizio at 856-242-7300 or complete our online contact form to schedule a consultation today.