Yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States held that juveniles convicted of murder cannot receive mandatory life sentences. The decision in Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs does not prohibit such convicts from receiving life sentences, but it does prevent states from issuing life sentences solely due to a homicide conviction.
This decision has ramifications for dozens, if not hundreds, of current prisoners in Pennsylvania. Convicts who were juveniles at the time they were convicted of first- or second-degree murder are entitled to new sentencing hearings, which means they have a chance to receive a sentence that will allow them to be paroled.
Pennsylvania’s Post Conviction Relief Act requires those prisoners to act quickly. A petition for relief must be filed within 60 days; any petitions filed after August 24, 2012, will be procedurally barred and the opportunity to be paroled will have been lost.
Contact Jeff Rowe at Murphy, Butterfield & Holland if you have a friend or family member who may be able to benefit from the Miller decision.