juvieCalifornia is known for being tough on crime, especially against minors. California does not tend to hold back when a minor faces a life sentence, despite the obvious critics of such a cruel punishment. In an effort to fight rising crime rates of previous 20 years, California toughened its stance on juvenile crimes ranging from gang-related activity to sexual misconduct. Juveniles were painted as unstable and reckless and the justice system cracked down.

Critics of these harsh punishments have a variety of platforms from racial discrimination in the justice system to the unfairness of a few bad kids ruining it for the rest of the minors in the state. After 1990, if a person was convicted of murder, even if he or she was under 18 at the time, a life sentence without the possibility for parole became common.

Despite the science, which states that teenagers generally still have growing minds and poor judgment as a result, lawmakers still felt juveniles were more than capable of controlling their impulses. 2012 marked a slight change in the right direction, as those serving these sentences for at least 15 years could ask a judge for a parole hearing. There were layers and layers of law and hoops to jump through, but it was a new chance to get out of prison for these young defendants.

The death penalty for minors, even those that committed murder, was ruled unconstitutional in 2005, and in 2010 the same was the case for a sentence of life without parole for juveniles that committed any crime other than murder. In 2012, even murder cases involving juveniles became less and less likely to result in life without parole.

California has become seemingly progressive in its position on juvenile offenders. What used to be the most difficult state in the country in terms of punishing minors, has recently evolved and taken a softer stance to allow these kids to be rehabilitated in prison rather than executed or locked away forever.

If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges, or their professional license is at risk, contact Attorney Miranda McCroskey for an immediate consultation at (714) 389-2257 or email her at miranda@mccroskeylegal.com.

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