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Minors Sentenced as Adults

The Juvenile Restoration Act (JRA) in Maryland allows minors who were previously sentenced as adults to request that the court reduce the sentence imposed after being incarcerated for 20 years.

Request a Reduction of Sentence

For people convicted of crimes that they committed when they were children, the JRA gives those individuals the option to request a sentence reduction, even if the initial Motion for Modification of Sentence was denied by the court.

Mandatory Minimum

The JRA allows judges to order a sentence under the minimum requirements (mandatory minimum) for minors charged as adults. The JRA prohibits judges from imposing life sentences without the possibility of parole, making Maryland the 25th state to ban life sentences for juveniles. Under Maryland Law, first degree murder charges require the punishment of life in prison. The JRA lets judges impose a sentence less than life for juveniles.

Filing in the Circuit Court

Per the JRA, after a convicted juvenile files a request or motion for reduction of sentence in the Circuit Court where they were sentenced, the court must grant a hearing. There is a list of factors that the Court must consider at the reduction of sentence hearing. After the hearing, the Court is required to render a written decision or finding based on the required factors. The court may reduce the sentence if it determines that the individual is not a danger to the public and the interests of justice will be better served by a reduced sentence.

If Motion Requesting Reduction of Sentence is Denied

In the event that the Court denies the Motion, after waiting at least three years, another request for reduction of sentence may be filed. If the Court denies the second Motion, another request may be filed in three years. However, a fourth attempt at reducing the sentence is not permitted.

Factors the Court Must Consider at a Reduction of Sentence Hearing

The Court must consider the following factors when determining whether to reduce the sentence:

  1. the person’s age at the time of the crime;
  2. the nature of the crime and the history and characteristics of the defendant;
  3. the person’s institutional record (tickets or infractions);
  4. programming while incarcerated, educational/vocational/social work, etc.;
  5. has the person demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation that indicate that the person is ready to reenter society;
  6. any statement offered by the crime victim or victim’s representative;
  7. any report of a physical, mental, or behavioral examination of the defendant by a health professional;
  8. the defendant’s family and community circumstance at the time of the crime, including any history of trauma, abuse, or involvement in the child welfare system;
  9. the defendant’s role in the crime and whether an adult was involved in the crime;
  10. the diminished culpability of a child as compared to an adult, including an inability to fully appreciate risks and consequences; and,
  11. Any other factors the Court deems relevant.