Monday, February 11, 2008

Changes to Juvenile Felony Murder Sentencing Rules Pass Senate Committee

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Monday a bill that would make it possible for juveniles that participate in a crime that leads to someone's death, but who don't plan to kill someone or participate in the actual killing, to be convicted of a class 2 felony and serve a juvenile sentence even if convicted as an adult.

Under current law, a juvenile convicted as an adult of felony murder, which could happen if her or she participates in any way in a crime that leads to the death of another even if he or she does not plan to kill anyone and does not kill anyone, can be sentenced to 40 years in adult prison.

Until a 2006 change in the law, anyone convicted of felony murder as an adult could be sentenced to life in prison without parole.

SB 66 would change that sentencing outcome, if the juvenile is sentenced as an adult, to a term of eight to forty-eight years. The bill also opens the possibility that the juvenile could be sentenced to a youthful offender program involving commitment to a youth correctional facility for a maximum of eight years.

The committee voted along party lines, 4-3, to send the bill to the Senate floor.

Sen. Suzanne Williams, D-Aurora, is the sponsor of the bill in the Senate. The House sponsor is Rep. Rosemary Marshall, D-Denver.