GREENVILLE - Due to a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, teenagers under the age of 18 convicted of first degree murder can no longer have a mandatory life sentence without parole.
The rule basically said it was unconstitutional to give minors a mandatory life sentence for first degree murder convictions.
A judge must first hold a hearing and weigh certain factors like age and maturity level before choosing to give them a sentence of life in prison without parole or life in prison with the possibility of parole.
North Carolina's General Assembly then adopted further legislation that includes felony murder charges.
A crime is considered felony murder when a victim is killed while another felony is being committed, like armed robbery, for example. This charge stands even if someone didn't kill anyone and were just present for the crime.
NewsChannel 12 spoke to former district attorney Clark Everett about this new law.
"The law has changed in the last year which basically says now if a juvenile commits felony murder that they get life with parole," Everett said.
The law also states someone must serve at least twenty-five years in prison before they are even eligible for parole. Everett said that doesn't mean someone will automatically get out of prison after they serve the minimum sentence.
The court system has not decided if this rule applies retroactively to people who have exhausted all of their appeals.
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