Saturday, May 16, 2009

California Appeals Court Rules Juveniles Sentenced to Life Unconstitutional

On May 10, 2009, we published a post in which we discussed how the United States Supreme Court will be considering whether sentencing juveniles to life in prison violates the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. On April 30, 2009, the California Court of Appeals found that sentencing juveniles to life in prison constituted cruel and unusual punishment under the California Constitution and the United States Constitution. The California case involved 14 year old Antonio Nunez, convicted of Aggravated Kidnapping and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Antonio had gotten into a car with 2 older men. One of the men later claimed that he had been kidnapped. When police tried to pull over the vehicle, shots were fired. Nobody was injured but Antonio was convicted of Aggravated Kidnapping and sentenced to life in prison. The California Supreme Court had ordered a review of the sentence and on April 30, the California Court of Appeals found that sentencing Antonio to life was unconstitutional under the United States and California Constitutions. As background, Antonio had lived a very difficult life. When he was 13 years old, he was riding his bicycle in a very dangerous part of South Central Los Angeles and was shot multiple times. His 14 year old brother ran to assist him and was shot in the head and killed. Antonio underwent multiple surgeries to repair damaged intestines. After he was released from the hospital he suffered severe depression and spent six months in Nevada with another family. After six months he was forced to return to the same neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles. The incident in which he was convicted of occurred just a few weeks after he returned to Los Angeles.

The United States is the only country that sentences juveniles as young as 13 and 14 to life in prison.

For more information about the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us at or call us anytime at 1-800-228-7295.

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