Fox News Interviews Dallas Defense Lawyer Chris Lewis On Texas Capital Murder Bill
Texas has long been a law-and-order state. As one example, look at 17-year-olds accused of certain crimes. For years they've been treated like adults in the criminal justice system. In Texas, 17-year-olds convicted of capital murder have no options but prison for life. No possibility of parole.
The thing is, the U.S. Supreme Court last year ruled that both the death penalty and life in prison without parole were unconstitutional punishments for young people under 18.
So how do you punish 17-year-old kids convicted of capital murder in Texas? That's the question Fox 4 News in Dallas-Fort Worth asked in a recent segment regarding Senate Bill 23.
"For a long time," defense attorney Chris Lewis said, "Texas has been prosecuting 17-year-olds as adults." Lewis practices criminal law and is a partner with Crain Lewis Brogdon, LLP in Dallas. He recently weighed in on the question in the Fox 4 News clip.
Since the Supreme Court said that both execution and life with no chance at parole are no longer on the table, options for a Texas prosecutor in capital murder cases are limited. Simply put, there's no way to sentence a 17-year-old convicted of capital murder.
In response, Texas lawmakers created Senate Bill 23, which would give 17-year-olds convicted of capital murder life with the possibility of parole in 40 years, just like those 16 and under.
The state house, however, added a second option: Life with no possibility of parole. Obviously, this second option remains unconstitutional, based on the Supreme Court's ruling.
Where's the Bill Now?
As it happens, the bill appears to have died in special session, as the Houston Chronicle reports. Senate Bill 23 was not heard because of Sen. Wendy Davis'smarathon 13-hour filibuster in opposition to anti-abortion legislation.
But Gov. Rick Perry considers this bill a "must-pass" so that prosecutors will have a sentencing option and won't have to delay trials or charge a lesser offense, according to the Chronicle.
This means that Senate Bill 23 will likely be heard again and likely passed soon.
But, as Chris Lewis said during the Fox 4 News interview, the House's version of the bill, which allows for that second option (life without parole) won't pass constitutional muster.
"The Supreme Court," Chris Lewis said, "was very clear and said any time that a 17-year-old is given life without parole, it's unconstitutional."
Call the Dallas, TX Criminal Defense Lawyers of Crain Lewis
Have you or your son or daughter been charged with a misdemeanor or serious felony? Being accused of a juvenile crime doesn't need to be the end of your future. Talk to Crain Lewis Brogdon, LLP. Call 214-736-7092 or send a confidential email to get things started. We give free consultations for all prospective clients and their families.