SB 377 - Under current law, offenders who were under the age of 18 at the time they committed first degree murder must be sentenced to life imprisonment without eligibility for probation, parole, or conditional release. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court in Miller v. Alabama held that mandatory life sentences without parole for juvenile criminal offenders are unconstitutional. As a result, there is no punishment for first degree murder under current law in Missouri that is enforceable against those who committed murder before they turned 18.
This act repeals the mandatory life sentence found to be unconstitutional in Miller v. Alabama and provides that offenders who were under the age of 18 at the time of the first degree murder may be sentenced to either life imprisonment without parole until the offender has served 50 years in prison or life imprisonment without parole.
Under this act, the prosecutor may file a notice of intent to seek a punishment of life imprisonment without parole and, if the notice is filed, the trial proceeds in two phases. In one phase, the trier determines if the person is guilty. If the person is found guilty, the second phase begins to determine whether the person should be sentenced to life without parole or life without parole until the person has served 50 years.
If the prosecutor does not file the notice and the person is found guilty of first degree murder, then the punishment is life without parole until the person has served 50 years in prison.
The procedures under this act do not apply to any case that is final for purposes of appeal at the time the act goes into effect. Any person who was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for a crime committed before the person turned 18 may, within six months of the effective date of the act, file a motion for a new sentencing hearing to determine whether the original sentence should remain or if the person ought to be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole until the person has served 50 years.
This act contains an emergency clause.