Mandatory Minimums in Juvenile Cases

Mandatory Minimums in Juvenile Cases

Do mandatory minimums apply in juvenile cases in Pennsylvania?

It depends.

In the standard juvenile case, mandatory minimums do not apply. However, when a juvenile is tried as an adult, all mandatory minimums apply except for murder cases.

If a juvenile’s case is a direct file juvenile (DFJ), meaning the Commonwealth filed the charges against the juvenile as an adult, or when a case is certified from juvenile court to adult court, the juvenile is treated the same as all adult defendants so all mandatory sentences apply.

In murder cases, murder 1 and murder 2 both have mandatory life sentences. The Supreme Court of United States recently ruled that juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) is unconstitutional, so those mandatories do not apply. However, there are other mandatories that apply to juvenile murder cases, just not life without parole.

Mandatory Minimums in Juvenile Cases
Mandatory Minimums in Juvenile Cases

2 Comments on Mandatory Minimums in Juvenile Cases

  1. Thanks for sharing. I worked on a post-conviction case for a client who received life without the possibility of parole for a crime he committed while a juvenile. The case was re-opened by the Public Defender earlier this year. I'm curious to see if the change in law is able to get him back in court. Do you believe quite a few old juvenile cases will be re-opened because of the change in the law?

  2. In Commonwealth v. Cunningham, 38 EAP 2012, decided 10/30/13, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled that the new JLWOP rules are NOT retroactive. Its a terrible decision. Justice Baer's dissent is the only reasonable conclusion. My understand is that a certiorari petition is being filed in Washington D.C.. Makes no sense to me.

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