California law is now allowing juveniles to appeal life sentences for those who have served a minimum of 15 years. Under the aiding and abetting law, there isn't a difference with the person who assists in a first degree murder and the person who actually does the murder, as they both possibly get the same sentence, says retired Superior Court Judge of Santa Clara, California Eugene Hyman.
Attorneys can petition the court for resentencing for life without the possibility of parole to 25 years to life, says Hyman. They judge will then look over the performance over the last 15 years and as long as the judge feels there's been substantial information and in the interest of justice, that you should have a chance to be paroled, then your sentence should be converted to 25 years to life. Hyman notes that this doesn't mean you get out after 25 years. You must then do a minimum of an additional 10 years for a total of 25 years and then be evaluated for parole.
The parole board decides if the prisoner should be released and the governor has the opportunity to overrule what the parole board has done, says Hyman, adding that the majority of murder cases do not get parole at the 25 year mark.
Hyman mentions that there is criticism from victims groups regarding the exceptions to this new law as it pertains to law enforcement and fire fighters. Sentences cannot be modified for killing law enforcement or fire fighters. Victims groups are asking why they are more valuable as victims than the loss of their own spouse or child.
Honorable Judge Eugene Hyman has received numerous awards and recognition for his work with families and children and has appeared on numerous television news shows. For more information, visit www.judgehyman.com. He is also a featured commentator on The Family Law Channel and The Legal Broadcast Network.