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Recent Law Posts

PA Supreme Court Rules Life Without Parole Sentence For Juveniles Only Appropriate Where There's No Potential For Rehabiliation

PA SUPREME COURT RULED A LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE SENTENCE FOR JUVENILES  IS ONLY APPROPRIATE WHERE IMPOSSIBILITY FOR REHABILITATION

Commonwealth v. Batts 

 

In Pennsylvania, juvenile offenders who have previously been sentenced to mandatory life without parole sentences have begun the process of being resentencing.  This is, in part, a result of the landmark 2010 United States Supreme Court’s decision in Graham v. Florida holding that a sentence of life without parole imposed on juveniles convicted of non-homicide offenses is unconstitutional due to scientific evidence tending to prove that juveniles can be rehabilitated.  Therefore, The Court in Graham, ruled that mandatory life sentences for juveniles served no legitimate purpose.

Then, in 2011, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania held off on a decision in the Commonwealth v. Batts case due to a pending United States Supreme Court case, Miller v. Alabama which was to determine whether mandatory life sentences for juvenile offenders convicted of homicide offenses (as opposed to the non-homicide offenses in Graham v. Florida) were violative of the 8th Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment and, thus, unconstitutional as well.  The answer came on June 25, 2012 when SCOTUS held that mandatory life without parole sentences for juvenile offenders does violate the 8th Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.  SCOTUS reasoned that kids are constitutionally different than adults for the purposes of determining punishment.  That is, kids lack a sophisticated level of maturity and sense of responsibility; children are more vulnerable to bad influences having less control over environmental factors around them; and a kid’s personality and sense of self is not as “well formed” as an adult’s is.  The Court stipulated that a sentencing court MUST consider mitigating circumstances when determining the appropriate punishment for juvenile offenders.

Less than a year later, on March 26, 2013, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that Qu’eed Batts needed to be resentenced.  However, as with many courtroom battles, it could not just be that easy and, unfortunately, Qu’eed Batts got his 2015 resentencing hearing in the Northampton County Court of Common Pleas only to be sentenced again to life without the possibility for parole.  Not to be defeated, he and his attorneys appealed the resentencing to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania.  The Superior Court agreed with the Common Pleas Court sentence, dealing another blow.  They appealed the Superior Court’s affirmative decision to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and, finally, on June 26, 2017, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania disagreed.  The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania held three things: first, that the resentence to life without the possibility of parole was illegal as disproportionate and, therefore, in contravention of the Eighth Amendment; second, that the court must provide juvenile offenders with meaningful opportunity for release based on rehabilitation and maturity; and, third, that the Commonwealth’s expert who testified at the resentencing hearing provided no support for his conclusion that the young man made sound, reasoned decisions at only 14 years old.  So, Qu’eed Batts has finally won a second, bona fide resentencing hearing for a sentence other than life. 

Reform In DUI Blood Testing Refusal

 

     Those who operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, undoubtedly, pose a substantial danger to themselves and other motorists.  Under the “Implied Consent” laws applicable to such inebriated drivers, the 50 states impose either civil or criminal liability (or both) upon drivers suspected of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol who either refuse to submit to breath testing or blood draws to determine if they are over the legal limit of intoxication to operate a motor vehicle. 

Recently, the United States Supreme Court examined that which is permissible within 4thAmendment garb in respects to individuals suspected of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol who either refuse to submit to breath or blood testing, or who only consent to blood testing after being faced with the caveat that their refusal will result in civil or criminal liability.

      In Birchfield v. North Dakota, Bernard v. Minnesota, and Beylund v. North Dakota the United States Supreme Court examined three distinct scenarios of drivers suspected of driving while under the influence and that which is permissible within the 4th Amendment in those scenarios.  The three companion cases presented three distinct inquiries, whether the 4th Amendment permitted drivers suspected of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol to refuse to breath testing, blood testing, or whether one who consents to blood testing only after being informed by police that the law required his submission and later having his license suspended and being fined via and administrative proceeding.

     The Bernard court held that drivers cannot refuse to a breath test, reasoning that breath tests are less intrusive than blood testing, reliable, and amply serve law enforcement interests and are thus justifiable under the “search incident to arrest” exception to the warrant requirement.  On the other hand, the holding in Birchfield was that due to blood testing being very intrusive (as it entails piercing the skin and extracting a part of the subjects body), it cannot be justified as a “search incident to arrest” or upon the basis of implied consent (as insisting on intrusive blood testing and imposing criminal penalties after refusing cannot be viewed as consensual), with the rationale being that motorists cannot be deemed to have consented  to submit to a blood test on the pain of committing a criminal offense.  These findings were in part arrived at the fact that the less intrusive species of breath tests.

     The question in Beylund required more critical analysis.  Because Beylund consented to a blood test only after he was informed by police that the law required his submission and he was subjected to a fine and license suspension via an administrative proceedingvoluntariness of Beylund’s consent needed to be examined more critically under the “totality of all the circumstances,” therefore, remand for further proceedings was the elixir fashioned.

     It is apparent that liberal reform is in the midst of finding life in respects to blood testing related to those suspected of driving while intoxicated.  If you’ve been charged with a D.U.I. you require the type of criminal defense lawyer who is studied in all the innovative strategies and defenses premised on the latest court decisions.  At the Law Office of Roy Galloway, we leave no stone unturned in our quest to secure the best possible outcome for all of our clients.  Call us today at (717) 737-3300.  Your call today means less anxiety and more liberty tomorrow.

    

 

     

ACCOMPLICE LIABILITY JURY INSTRUCTION

 

     The crime that is done alone is the crime which the perpetrator has the best chance of getting away with.  But for those who commit crimes with others, the sticky web of “accomplice liability” motivates co-defendant’s to cooperate with the prosecution in their quest for leniency.  There is a powerful tool which defense attorney’s have available in their arsenal in defending their clients when a co-defendant goes rogue against another and testifies against his once “colleague” with leniency in their eyes.

   The general rule of law pertaining to the culpability of conspirators is that each individual member of the conspiracy is criminally responsible for the acts of his co-conspirators committed in furtherance of the conspiracy.  All co-conspirators are responsible for actions undertaken in furtherance of the conspiracy regardless of their individual knowledge of such actions and regardless of which member of the conspiracy undertook the action.  The premise of the rule is that the conspirators have formed together for an unlawful purpose, and thus, they share the intent to commit any acts undertaken in order to achieve that purpose, regardless of whether they actually intended any distinct act undertaken in furtherance of the object of the conspiracy.  (See) Commonwealth v. La, 640 A.2d 1336, 1345 (Pa. Super 1994).

      Because of the law of accomplice liability, conspirators who have been arrested and face retribution find motivation to cooperate against other members of the conspiracy, in their aims to receive a dramatically reduced sentence.  In such a situation, there is an “accomplice charge” available to defense counsel which advises the jury that a witness either was an accomplice in a crime or could have been charged as an accomplice and is testifying in exchange for leniency; therefore, that said jury should consider the testimony of the witness with caution.  (See Commonwealth v. Spence, 627 A.2d 1176, 1183 (Pa. Super 1993).  The testifying co-conspirator’s hope, in such a situation, could be to earn leniency by minimizing or eliminating his own role in the crime and exaggerating the role of his co-defendant(s).  Accordingly, in order to protect the interests of the co-defendant(s) who is/are inculpated by the accomplice testimony, a cautionary jury instructed is given.

      Conspiracy cases are very formidable  adversaries to defense counsels.  In light of such, you need a criminal defense lawyer who leaves no stone unturned beside at every turn of the criminal prosecution.  Your only clear decision after the cuffs have been taken off is to make a phone call to The Law Office of Roy Galloway, LLC.  No conspiracy case is too large or small for our legal microscope of searching defenses.  Contact us today at (717) 737-3300 for your free no-risk consultation today.  Your conspiracy case which is a reality today, can be a nullity tomorrow.  Contact us toda

UNDERSTANDING THE AUTOMATIC COMPANION RULE

UNDERSTANDING THE AUTOMATIC COMPANION RULE 

     In the United States, as American’s, we are afforded many rights which prevent oppressive and intrusive police conduct.  One of those rights, is the right to be free from intrusive searches and seizures of one’s person and property.  That right finds it’s life in the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution, which is synonymous with Article 1 Section 8 of the Pennsylvania Constitution.  Today we will discuss what’s known as the Automatic Companion Rule, a rule which permits a “frisk search” of all companions of an arrestee. 

     There seems to be a common, but misplaced, belief by most people who are in the company of someone who gets arrested that they themselves cannot be searched by police because they are not actual person being arrested.  The rules which govern when police may stop a person in order to investigate the possibility of criminal activity are set out in Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968).  In general, an investigative stop is justified only upon reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, and a limited pat-down search for weapons (referred to as a “Terry-Frisk”) may be conducted only if supported by the reasonable belief that the suspect is armed and dangerous. (See Commonwealth v. Melendez, 544 Pa. 323 (1996).

     The holdings in Terry v. Ohio have been further extended in what is known as the “Automaatic Companion Rule.”  Pursuant to the Automatic Companion Rule, it is permissible for police officers to conduct a protective “frisk” of companions to arrestees. The logic surrounding the Automatic Companion Rule is a simple one, namely, all companions of the arrestee within the immediate vicinity who are capable of accomplishing a harmful assault on the officer are constitutionally subjected to the cursory “pat down’ to give the arresting officer assurance that they are unarmed.  This rule is, founded upon the need for officer safety, rather than intrusion upon one’s rights against unreasonable searches.  This is not to say that some police have not abused the parameters of the rule to attempt to find other contraband on companions such as narcotics or drug paraphernalia which does not feel like a weapon during the frisk.

      As the companion of an arrestee, know your rights, and know the persons whose company you keep.  If you have been aggrieved by an intrusive search or seizure, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer who is versed in defending clients against violations of thier constitutional rights.  At the Law Office of Roy Galloway, your liberty and freedoms are the same as ours.  Contact us at 717-737-3300 for your free, no risk, consultation today.  Let us persuade the gavel for you throughour working knowledge of law, and skilled advocacy. Call today!

 

 

 

The Criminal Preliminary Hearing and the Prima Facie Burden of Proof

THE CRIMINAL PRELIMINARY HEARING AND THE PRIMA FACIE BURDEN OF PROOF

 

     I am commonly asked, during my free consultations in respect to criminal cases, if I can assure the prospective client to get their criminal charges dismissed at the Preliminary Hearing.  The prospective client, more often than not, finds distaste in my answer in the negative.  Many of these clients, however, are actually oblivious to the extremely low burden of proof which govern the Preliminary Hearing known as “prima facie” evidence.

     At the preliminary hearing stage of a criminal prosecution, the state need not prove the Defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, but rather, must merely put forth sufficient evidence to establish a prima facie case of guilt.  A prima facie case exists when the Commonwealth produces evidence of each of the material elements of the crime charged and establishes probable cause to warrant the belief that the accused  committed the offense.  (See Commonwealth v. Karetny, 583 Pa. 514 (2005) (citing cases.)

    It is important to point out that a determination of whether a prima facie case has been made by the Commonwealth is based soley upon the evidence presented by the Commonwealth. In other words, it would not matter if the Defendant presented overwhelming evidence of innocence at a preliminary hearing, the case could still be held for court if the Commonwealth presents sufficient evidence that alleges that the Defendant committed a prohibited act.

 Many people do not know that a preliminary hearing is different than a criminal trial where a jury gets to weigh evidence and decide credibility. At a preliminary hearing, a magistrate will not weigh evidence and decide which evidence is credible; rather, a magistrate will look to whether the Commonwealth can establish two things: (1) that a crime was committed; and (2) that is is probable that Defendant may have committed that crime.

    To define “prima facie” in layman’s terms, to establish the prima facie burden of proof, the state need only to establish the elements of the offense(s) charged, and that it is probable or likely that the person charged committed the offense(s).  This burden of proof is far lower than that of the criminal trial burden of proof of “beyond a reasonable doubt.” (Which is  defined as doubt that makes a reasonable person pause in a matter of importance in their daily life.)

     Knowing about the “prima facie” burden of proof in respects to the criminal preliminary hearing is important, as it enables the prospective client to make an informed decision on whether or not to retain private counsel premised upon reasonable expectations. 

    A criminal defendant deserves a criminal defense attorney who is candid and whose integrity is unmatched.  At the Law Offices of Attorney Roy Galloway, those traits are our brand.

   If you are charged with a criminal offense, please contact the Law Offices of Roy Galloway at (717) 737-3300 to speak with a knowledgeable and professional criminal defense attorney.  Call today for your free consultation.  Knowing the truth births freedom.  Call today!

An Examination of What Constitutes A Criminal Conspiracy Charge

CONSPIRACY THEORY

     A conspiracy charge in a criminal case can prove to be a pest liken to a spider and the Web which it weaves, threatening to prey upon anyone in the proximity of the crime committed.  Here at the Law Office of Roy Galloway, we want you to be informed about what constitutes the offense of conspiracy.  Just because you are charged with a  conspiracy offense, doesn’t mean you are actually “stuck in the spider’s web” to be preyed upon.  Know your role and the facts, for doing so births freedom.

ELEMENTS OF CONSPIRACY 

    The crime of conspiracy is actually composed of three elements:

1.  An agreement by two or more persons to commit an unlawful act; and

2.  an overt act must be committed by one or more of the conspirators in furtherance of the conspiracy.

     The agreement, can be spoken, or tacit. (Understood or implied without being stated.) Sometimes in a criminal trial, the prosecution will attempt to prove the agreement through circumstantial evidence or direct evidence of such.  Circumstantial evidence of the agreement could, for example, be shown by two people being present at a crime scene who both have active involvement in the underlying crime itself.  Direct evidence of the agreement could be illustrated if, one of the co-conspirators actually testifies to the scope of the agreement between the individuals themselves.  For the latter scenario, that is why it is essential for those charged in a conspiracy to “hold their water” and not be compelled to give any statements incriminating either themself, or any other alleged co-conspirators.

     The agreement to commit an unlawful act, per se, is not enough to prove a conspiracy. To further the agreement, those involved must commit an “overt act” to further the agreement.  An overt act is action or a step to insure that the agreement is carried out, or to insure that the common goal between the co-conspirators is achieved.  For example, if two persons agree to commit an arson of a vehicle so that the conspirators can collect the insurance money for the charred vehicle, an example of an overt act in this scenario would be if one of the co-conspirators went and purchased a gas can and gas so that the vehicle can be burned.

      Being merely present at the scene of a crime is not sufficient to prove the existence of a conspiracy.  There must exist proof that an individual had knowledge of the existence of the conspiracy and had an involvement in accomplishing the common goal or objective of the conspiracy, that is, the crime itself.  

     Sometimes law enforcement uses confidential informants to attempt to get an individual to engage in criminal activity.  But an individual can not conspire with a government informant.  This is true because a government informant (who is either financially compensated or whose motives for cooperation nvolve leniency in their own prosecution) cannot form the requisite criminal intent to  commit the unlawful act, which is the objective of the conspiracy. 

FACING A CONSPIRACY CHARGE? YOU CAN PREVAIL AND GET ON WITH YOUR LIFE.... CALL OUR OFFICE TODAY 

       Don’t get stuck in the conspiracy “web.”  This blog is for educational and informational purposes.  At the Law Offices of Roy Galloway LLC, we in no way endorse the committing of crimes.  We do, however, love to inform the public on criminal law.  If a conspiracy charge is your reality, and you wish to find the representation, which is founded on integrity, up to date research on the law of conspiracy, and proven defenses thereto, contacting the Law  Offices of Roy Galloway LLC today should be your only phone call.  Attorney Galloway is a proven pretrial and trial advocate dedicated to your interests founded on law and fact. Please contact the Law office of Roy Galloway today @ (717) 737-3300 for a free no obligation consultation with a proven and experienced criminal defense attorney.

 

    

 

 

The Successful Appeal Myth

THE SUCCESSFUL APPEAL MYTH

BY BERNARD JOHNSON

 

In the criminal law forum, a defendant’s decision to proceed to trial is often times a very difficult one, premised upon many factors.  Among those factors, is the defendant’s understanding that in the event of an unfortunate conviction, that he or she can pursue an appeal.  If that unwelcomed conviction results in the defendant being sentenced to a prison term, often times the contemporaneous mentality of that defendant produces a perpetual echo within their mind that, “it’s alright because I will appeal and win.” Well, let’s visit the myth and flawed thinking of this “appeal syndrome.”

 Its not a secret that the costs of criminal defense can be very high, to say the least.  Due to this reality, many defendant’s opt to be represented by Public Defenders (free lawyers appointed by the government) either because of their inability to pay for private counsel or their unwillingness to part with the money required to retain a lawyer.  For the latterindividual, they seemingly ignore that Public Defenders are, more than not, overworked with a hoard of many cases, and underpaid. 

This often spells that their case will not receive the searching, individualized and comprehensive assessment required to obtain an acquittal or an outcome viewed acceptable to the defendant.  (The foregoing is not an attempt to slander Public Defenders because many exhibit admirable efficacy, but to convey the reality of the profession.) (See “Why You’re in Deep Trouble If You Can’t  Afford a Lawyer,” May 6, 2013, by Hannah Levintova, Jaeah Lee and Brett Brownell.)

 Mysteriously, after conviction, many defendants marshal the funds required to retain appellate lawyers to advance their appeals, or are far more consumed with attempting to retain an appellate lawyer than they were at retaining a trial lawyer.  And often times, the costs of an appeal are higher or equal to that of the trial proceedings.  But the sad truth is that the success rates of appeals in criminal cases are exceeding very low, much lower than trial.  It is stated that the success rate on appeal in criminal cases is typically less than 7%, and less than five percent of habeas corpus motions in federal court are successful.  (See Crime and Federalism, Odds of Winning on Appeal, November 28, 2005;see also Williams v. Sturm, 110 F.Supp.2d 353, 359 (E.D.Pa. 2000).  This is due to the exceedingly stringent and onerous standards of review by the appellate and habeas corpus courts which pose almost insurmountable odds and hurdles to the appellant.

 With that said, the only logical decision for a criminal defendant is to seek formidable and comprehensive trial advocacy.  Trial lawyers can attack a case on a pretrial basis, not limited to motions to dismiss, motions to suppress evidence, incompetency to stand trial, and severance.  In this manner, this form of pretrial advocacy can insure that a defendant doesn’t have to face trial at all, or a trial that is advantageous to his interests.

 Moreover, a searing trial lawyer can raise a plethora of legal defenses like self-defense, ack of knowledge or intent, or mere presence (to name a few), or artfully impeach witnesses against the defendant so as to raise reasonable doubt to summon an acquittal.

 The reality is, you only get one day in court.  You want that day to be your last day in the criminal system. At the Law Offices of Roy Galloway LLC, you can find ease in our representation from the institution of the criminal process, continuing through the trial stage, as our aim is to ensure that the appeal process is a nullity to our clients.  Please contact an experienced  and aggressive criminal defense attorney by calling our office today at (717) 737-3300.  Your day in court can mean your next day of freedom.  Please don’t hesitate to call today.

 

 

 

U.S. SUPREME COURT'S HOLDING IN MONTGOMERY V. LOUISIANA

U.S. SUPREME COURT'S HOLDING IN MONTGOMERY V. LOUISIANA GRANTS RETROACTIVE RELIEF

TO JUVENILE OFFENDERS SERVING MANDATORY LIFE SENTENCES FOR HOMICIDE OFFENSES

 

On January 25, 2016, the United States Supreme Court handed down a ruling which will give many homicide offenders who were under the age of 18 at the time of their offense, an opportunity for parole, retroactively, although their convictions and sentences have been finalized.  In a majority 6-3 opinion, the court decided Montgomery v. Louisiana, 2016 U.S. LEXIS 862, which comprehensively visited whether the holdings in Miller v. Alabama, 132 S. Ct. 2455 (2012), relating to the violation of the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution for the imposition of a mandatory life imprisonment sentence for juvenile homicide offenders, should be applied retroactively.  The Montgomery court dispelled any doubt that such offenders, who were then juveniles at the time of their offense, could petition courts for relief in the form of consideration for parole, pursuing their Eighth Amendment violation claims in light of Miller, retroactively.

 In Montgomery v. Louisiana, the defendant was 17 years old, who in 1963, killed a deputy sheriff in Louisiana, and was given a mandatory life sentence for such.  In 2012, when the  U.S. Supreme Court held in Miller that mandatory life imprisonment sentences for juvenile homicide offenders violated the Eighth Amendment, Montgomery had been in prison for nearly 50 years.  In Montgomery, the only question for the court was whether Miller should be applied retroactively, that is, to defendants whose convictions and sentences were finalized on direct appeal prior to the grant of Miller.  Although the State of Louisiana, coupled with an amicus curiae, adamantly opposed retroactive application of Miller in Montgomery, the court’s ultimate holding was that offenders who have suffered Eighth Amendment violations in light of Miller should enjoy retroactive application of Miller to seek relief therefrom to ameliorate their sentence.

 The Ex Post Facto clause of the U.S. Constitution forbids applying new laws retrospectively, which impose heightened liability and sentences, to those individuals who committed their offense prior to the passage of the new law. Conversely, applying a new law, retrospectively which helps an offender, but whose conviction and sentence has become final in the appellate forum, is often times a much more difficult inquiry.  In the latter scenario, retroactive effect can be granted when new laws establish:  (1) new substantive rules of constitutional law (substantive rules include “rules forbidding criminal punishment of certain primary conduct,” as well as “rules prohibiting a certain category of punishment for a class of defendants because of their status or offense.”); or (2) “new watershed rules of criminal procedure implicating the fundamental fairness and accuracy of the criminal proceeding.” (See Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288, 307, 312-313 (1989).)

 Montgomery recognized that Miller announced a substantive rule of constitutional law. Noteworthy, Montgomery announced that: “a penalty imposed pursuant to an unconstitutional law is no less void because the prisoner’s sentence became final before the law was held unconstitutional….  There is no grandfather clause that permits states to enforce punishments the Constitution forbids.”  Furthermore, Montgomery reasoned: “where state collateral review proceedings permit prisoner’s to challenge the lawfulness of their confinement, states cannot refuse to give retroactive effect to a substantive constitutional right that determines the outcome of that challenge.”

 It should be noted, that Miller, nor its progeny, announce that all juvenile homicide offenders are totally precluded from receiving a life imprisonment sentence for such an offense;  but rather, Miller does proscribe that sentencing judges are vested with discretion to deviate from any mandatory statutory sentencing machinery so that the court may make  a more searching inquiry as the particular offender’s character and childhood, to ascertain if the court’s convinced that the offense was, more than not, a product of the juvenile’s immaturity, recklessness, or impetuosity as opposed to an offender’s cemented maliciousness and inability to change in the future.

At the Law Offices of Roy Galloway LLC, we offer comprehensive representation to warrant reduced sentences to those offenders serving life sentences who committed their offenses prior to age 18.  We are committed to ending the separation between you and your loved one which occurred perhaps decades ago due to immaturity and indiscretions. 

 Second chances are synonymous with human error, but what you do now is the defining moment.  That is why you should not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Roy Galloway LLC today at (717) 737-3300.  Relief sought is relief deserved!

 

      

Supreme Court Rules Mandatory Life Sentences for Juvenile Homicide Offenders Unconstitutional

SUPREME COURT RULES MANDATORY LIFE SENTENCES FOR JUVENILE HOMICIDE OFFENDERS IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL

Prior to June 2012, many states, including Pennsylvania, had laws that required that all persons, including juveniles, convicted of first-degree murder be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. For instance, prior to June 2012, in Pennsylvania, all persons, even juveniles, convicted of first or second-degree murder received an automatic mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.

On June 25, 2012, in a watershed case, the United States Supreme Court ruled that mandatory sentences of life without the possibility of parole for juvenile homicide offenders violates the Eight Amendment of the United States Constitution. See Miller v. Alabama, 132 S. Ct. 2455 (2012).

In Miller, Justice Egan, writing for a majority of the Court, noted that the Eight Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment guarantees individuals the right not to be subjected to excessive sanctions. Furthermore, the Court opined that ‘that right, flows from the basic precept of justice that punishment for crime should be graduated and proportioned’ to both the offender and the offense’.

In deciding that juvenile homicide offenders should be treated differently than their adult counterparts, the Court relied heavily on the fact that developments in psychology and brain science continue to show fundamental differences between juvenile and adult minds-for example, in parts of the brain involved in behavior control.

Moreover, the Supreme Court relied on three significant gaps between juveniles and adults as justification for treating juvenile homicide offenders differently than adults similarly situated. First, children have a lack of maturity and an underdeveloped sense of responsibility…leading to recklessness, impulsivity, and heedless risk-taking. Second, children are more vulnerable to negative influences and outside pressures, including from their family and peers; they have limited control over their own environment and lack the ability to extricate themselves from horrific, crime-producing settings. And third, a child’s character is not as well formed as an adult’s; his traits are less fixed and his actions less likely to be evidence of irretrievable depravity.

It is worth noting that Miller does not prohibit a court from handing down a life sentence to a juvenile homicide offender. Rather, the Miller decision requires that sentencing alternatives to life imprisonment be made available for juvenile homicide offenders and, Miller also requires that sentencing courts take into consideration the age and maturity of juvenile homicide offenders. However, if after taking into consideration a juvenile offender’s age and maturity, a sentencing court is still convinced that a life sentence is warranted such a sentence is still permissible.

In response to Miller, Pennsylvania transformed its sentencing scheme for juvenile homicide offenders allowing sentencing judges the option to sentence a juvenile 15 years or older convicted of first degree murder to a 35 year minimum sentence, and juveniles under 15 years old at the time of a homicide to a 25 year minimum sentence.

YOU OR A LOVED ONE CHARGED WITH CRIMINAL HOMICIDE? WE UNDERSTAND THAT THIS IS A LIFE-CHANGING EVENT FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY. MAKE THE RIGHT DECISION AND HIRE A LAWYER WITH A RECORD OF SUCCESSFULLY DEFENDING HOMICIDE CASES.

 

Being charged with criminal homicide or murder is a very serious event for you or your loved one. I have experience dealing with this type of case and would love to put my experience, knowledge, and passion to work for you. It is important that you make the right decision to protect your rights, freedom and liberty. You can start by hiring a criminal defense lawyer with a successful track record by calling The Law Office of Roy Galloway, LLC for a free no-obligation consultation at (717) 737-3300.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proposed Amendments to Career Offender Guidelines

U.S. Sentencing Commission’s 2016 Proposed Amendment

To Career Offender Guidelines

 

     For many federal prisoner’s a Career Offender Guideline sentence proves to be a very lengthy sentence premised largely upon the offender’s prior criminal record involving crimes of violence or controlled substances offenses.  But recently, the Career Offender (and Armed Career Criminal) sentencing provisions have come under much scrutiny due to the vagueness of what is known as the “residual clause” of both provisions.  (The “residual clause” is defined as “or otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another.”)  In light of the scrutiny centered around the vagueness of the “residual clause,”  the United States Sentencing Commission met on January 8, 2016 and submitted its proposed amendments to the 2016 U.S. Sentencing Guidelines to substantially cure the vagueness of the “residual clause,” among other things.

  In order to be classified as a career offender under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, an offender must currently be convicted of a violent or controlled substance offense and have at least two prior convictions for either a crime of violence or a controlled substance offense. (But not mere simple possession of narcotics) 

However, the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s recently proposed amendments to the Career Offender Guidelines, which would have a prospective August 1, 2016 effective date, seeks to effect said guidelines in the following ways:

  • Excises the “residual clause” from the Career Offender Guideline in totality.
  • Disqualifies “burglary of a dwelling” as an offense that triggers the Career Offender enhancement.  (However, prior burglary offenses involving violence are subject to a possible upward departure (increased sentence) although the career offender enhancement may not apply.)
  • Provides a downward departure (decreased sentence) for cases in which one or both of defendants’ two prior felony convictions are based on an offense that was classified as a misdemeanor at the time of sentencing for the instant federal offense. (See U.S.S.G. 4B1.1 Application Note 4)

Across the country, many defendants are classified as career offenders yearly due to having prior burglary or fleeing and eluding convictions. (The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals recently in U.S. v. Townsend, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 22489 (3d Cir. 2015) ruled that fleeing and eluding convictions can not trigger the Career Offender enhancement.)  In many cases, whether a defendant qualifies as a Career Offender can be a very difficult assessment due to the complexity and intricacies of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.  In light of this fact, you and your loved ones deserve competent advocacy through experienced counsel to pose comprehensive arguments which render the Career Offender enhancements inapplicable. 

At the Law Office of Roy L. Galloway, LLC, we make very searching assessments into these matters founded on a guided working knowledge of these sophisticated guidelines which ultimately spells significant relief for our clients.  When faced with the very debilitating experience of having to be incarcerated, our only aims are that you and your loved ones are separated for the least amount of time as possible.That is why having Attorney Roy Galloway at your side in court is your only sensible option. Please contact us today at 717-737-3300.

 

 

 

 

 

 

     

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