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Supreme Court requires hope in juvenile sentencing

No parent wants to see their child convicted of any criminal offense. A simple juvenile offense such as underage drinking, for example, can have a lasting enough impact on a kid's life. When a minor is accused and convicted of the most serious of crimes, there is even more on the line. 

The Supreme Court of the United States made a ruling earlier this week that reduces that risk for some juveniles who are convicted of the violent crime of murder. According to the ruling, juveniles must at least be given the possibility of parole when sentenced to life prison terms. 

While most juveniles or their parents will not be faced with such a serious case such as murder, this ruling underscores an important aspect of the U.S.' criminal justice system. Even when children are faced with (and perhaps responsible for) extreme charges of violent crimes, they should be given the consideration that they might improve their lives. Maybe they can turn their behavior around and move on to lead productive, law-abiding futures. 

In the past, courts were able to sentence juveniles to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The Supreme Court ruled that parole must be at least a possibility for juveniles. They must at least get a chance to show that they might be eligible for release due to their behavior and maturation while incarcerated. 

This ruling applies to current, future and now past cases here in Pennsylvania, as well as in the rest of the country. Courts do have the discretion to deny parole in these kinds of cases, but the promise of that chance at release simply cannot be taken from a kid who is or was found guilty of a serious crime. 

If you have any questions about the criminal charges your child faces and the possible sentencing that could result from the legal situation, work with a criminal defense lawyer who has experience helping juveniles right away. 

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