The prosecution of juvenile offenders in Las Vegas varies depending on the context of the crime they are accused of. In many cases, juveniles are merely required to conduct community service, pay fees, stay at a juvenile detention center, or take part in an educational program to help them reintegrate into society. If they commit a severe offense, they are liable to be transferred to a regular court and convicted as an adult.
While juveniles can be prosecuted in a regular court of law as an adult, another matter arises: the extent with which a juvenile can be penalized as an adult in Las Vegas. Let’s look at how juvenile offenders fare with regards to life sentences in Nevada.
The Score for Juveniles and Life Sentences
Here’s the long and short of it: Nevada courts can no longer convict juvenile offenders with a life sentence without parole. The legislation came into effect in 2015 after the Governor signed Assembly Bill 267 into law. Not only did it lay down restrictions against life without parole for juveniles, it also laid additional guidelines for handling severe juvenile crimes.
As per this legislation, juvenile offenders in Nevada are now eligible to a parole after serving several years in prison, depending on whether or not a death occurred. This also applies if the crime was committed in their youth, but they were only convicted in adulthood. Finally, the law also applied retroactively to juveniles convicted prior to the law taking effect.
Several factors come into play for juvenile defendants facing life with parole. These include:
- The court must consider how the juvenile defendant has less culpability than an adult in the crime they committed
- Courts can offer parole to juveniles convicted with multiple non-homicide charges whose cumulative sum amounts to a life sentence
- Crimes involving multiple deaths may affect a juvenile’s parole prospects
- Sentences can be reduced by as much as 35% depending on the juvenile’s age at the time of conviction, as well as their chances of reintegration to society
What it Means for You
Nevada has some of the toughest penalties for felonies and repeat offenses. With this in mind, the legal system provides juvenile defendants with better protections to ensure that they are not overly penalized by the legal system in their young age.
The protections provided by the no-life-without-parole rule ensures that juvenile defendants do not waste away their lives in an adult prison. They have more chances to win back their freedom, so long as their crimes do not go beyond the breaking point. Of course, other laws will come into effect, depending on the circumstances of the crime.
Juvenile defendants in Nevada are lucky to have a provision that protects them against a permanent life behind bars for serious crimes. This is only one of many legal provisions aimed at helping juvenile offenders to deal away with their criminal lives and start anew.