Aggressive, Skillful and Experienced Defense

Iowa Supreme Court -- no life without parole for juveniles

Teenagers are capable of doing great things. Unfortunately, they are also capable of making serious mistakes, because they lack the maturity, judgment and life experience that comes with being an adult. The Iowa Supreme Court recognized this when it recently ruled that a sentence of life without parole for a juvenile offender violates the Iowa Constitution by imposing cruel and unusual punishment.

The decision came in the case of a man who was convicted of killing his grandparents when he was 17-years-old. The Supreme Court reasoned that when sentencing a juvenile who was tried as an adult, a judge cannot accurately predict the juvenile's chances of rehabilitation and should not have to speculate as to those chances. The court said that a parole board, evaluating the defendant after the person has had a chance to mature, was in a better position to determine whether the offender had rehabilitated.

The U.S. Supreme Court, interpreting the federal constitution, has previously ruled that mandatory life-without-parole sentences are unconstitutional for juveniles, but did not go as far as the Iowa Supreme Court in ruling that imposition of such a sentence is always unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled instead that a judge must take into account a defendant's individual circumstances before sentencing the person to life without parole.

The adult criminal justice system is no place for a juvenile. Iowa long ago established a separate juvenile justice system, the purpose of which is rehabilitation instead of punishment. And, juveniles often stand a better chance of rehabilitation than adult offenders. When a juvenile faces murder charges or other serious charges, the first priority of the defense is to keep the case in juvenile court where it belongs.

Source: ABA Journal, "Iowa Supreme Court rules life without parole is an unconstitutional sentence for juveniles," Debra Cassens Weiss, May 31, 2016

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

contact us FOR a Free Consultation

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

IOWA Association for justice IOWA state bar association NACDL 1958 national association of criminal defense lawyers american association for justice board certified specialist DUI defense law the iowa state bar association


Should I take a breath test?
The most common question asked of criminal defense lawyers who work on Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) or Driving While...

Can I get a work permit or temporary restricted license in Iowa after losing my driving privileges for an OWI?
For a first offense, yes. The revocation is this instance is 180 days for an OWI test failure and one year for an OWI test refusal...

Read More

Get In Touch

J. Dean Keegan, Eric D. Tindal & Andrea Mason Attorneys At Law
425 2nd Street South East, Suite 1250
Cedar Rapids, IA 52406

Cedar Rapids Law Office Map

J. Dean Keegan, Eric D. Tindal & Andrea Mason Attorneys At Law
103 East College Street, Suite 312
Iowa City, IA 52240

Iowa City Law Office Map

facebook twitter

Privacy Policy | Business Development Solutions by FindLaw, part of Thomson Reuters.