Post-Conviction Relief For Juvenile Offenders

Twice in the last two years, the Supreme Court has held that it violates the Eighth Amendment to sentence a juvenile offender (under 18 when the offense was committed) to life in prison without the possibility of parole. See Miller v. Alabama, 132 S. Ct. 2455 (2012) (no LWOP for juvenile homicide offenders); Graham v. Florida, 130 S. Ct. 2011 (2010) (no LWOP for juvenile nonhomicide offenders).

For Miller claimants, a one-year limitations period is presently running and will expire on June 25, 2013. Claimants who do not have post-conviction motions pending on that date will face nearly insurmountable obstacles to relief.

For Graham claimants, the one-year limitations period expired on May 17, 2011. Because the limitations period has expired, additional steps are required before they may file for relief in court.

The federal public defenders office is requesting that all of its offices thoroughly go through their files to compile a list of prisoners who may qualify for post-conviction relief under either Miller or Graham. It is unclear whether all of the individual state public defenders offices are doing the same.

In any case, if you know someone who was a juvenile offender and was sentenced to either: life without parole or a term of at least 470 months’ imprisonment, it is imperative that you urge them to contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.