Can a child or teen be sentenced to life in prison?

Criminal Attorney, Phiip Kent Cohen, Esq. explains whether or not a child or teen can be sentenced to life in prison in the United States today
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Can a child or teen be sentenced to life in prison?

The United States Supreme Court ruled about 10 years ago or so that the death penalty for juveniles was unconstitutional. Recently, the United States Supreme Court has ruled that life sentences without parole are unconstitutional. Both of those rulings were etched in this belief that a childs' brain is very different from an adults' brain. That sounds great. However, many States have sentences of what's called Parole Eligible sentences where they may give out sentences of 40, 50, 60 years with the possibility of parole. And the Supreme Court has held that those sentences are constitutional. And so what you have is a number of juveniles throughout the country who are doing the equivalent of life sentences. If you do the actuarial charge, the life expectancy of young black men born in this country can be as low as the low 60s, or mid-60s. You then equate that to what sentences they are looking at and when they are eligible for parole. And it's truly the equivalent of dying in jail. If we're going to look at a juvenile's brain, as all doctors and researchers tell us, that is a brain in development. That how a juvenile thinks at the age of 14, 15, 16 is very different than how they'll think at the age of 28, and 32, and 42. The idea of putting a kid in jail for the rest of his life for something he did as a child to me is barbaric.

Criminal Attorney, Phiip Kent Cohen, Esq. explains whether or not a child or teen can be sentenced to life in prison in the United States today


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Philip Kent Cohen, Esq.

Criminal Attorney

During nearly two decades as a premier trial attorney, Philip Cohen has defended individuals and corporations accused of criminal conduct in more than 30 federal and state jurisdictions throughout the country. Using a proactive, aggressive approach to litigation, Mr. Cohen has successfully represented clients in matters ranging from multi-million dollar fraud, money laundering, and embezzlement violations, to large-scale narcotics trafficking, robbery, assault, and murder. With an astonishing success rate at trial, Cohen attacks every case, regardless of subject matter, as a personal challenge to his courtroom abilities and advocacy skills. And it shows, as he is consistently recognized by his peers as one of the preeminent defense lawyers in Southern California.

Born and raised in New York, Cohen graduated with honors from Fordham University in 1988, before obtaining his juris doctorate from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law in 1991. After building a thriving solo practice, he co-founded the boutique litigation firm of Murphy Rosen & Cohen LLP in 2003, where he headed up the firm's criminal practice, and continued to expand his presence as a select criminal trial attorney.  During this time, Cohen also began to utilize his advocacy skills in the realm of civil trial work, the result of which has been an uninterrupted string of civil trial victories in cases which have included business, malpractice and wrongful death disputes. In 2008, Cohen was invited to become an equity partner in the Los Angeles office of Venable LLP., a DC-based, 600-attorney international law firm, where he co-chaired the firm's West Coast white collar/criminal defense practice.

Despite his appreciation for the national presence and support that a large firm provided, Cohen longed the personal interaction and clientele autonomy that he had enjoyed throughout his career, and so, in 2009, Cohen re-established his solo practice with the advent of Philip Kent Cohen, APC., while continuing to maintain the highest level of attention, loyalty, and representation that his clients had come to depend upon. Recognized by clients and lawyers alike for his superior level of trial work, Cohen has been listed for the past three years as a Southern California "Super Lawyer" as chosen by his peers and through the independent research of Law & Politics magazine. In addition to trial work, Mr. Cohen devotes a substantial portion of his practice to post-conviction relief, and has represented numerous clients in both appellate and habeas corpus proceedings nationwide. 


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