HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

H.B. NO.

418

THIRTY-FIRST LEGISLATURE, 2021

 

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 

 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

 

relating to minors.

 

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

 


SECTION 1. The legislature recognizes that minors differ from adults in a number of ways, and that these differences must be taken into account when minors are sentenced after being convicted in the same circuit courts in which adults are tried. As noted by the Supreme Court of the United States in Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), "only a relatively small proportion of adolescents who engage in illegal activity develop entrenched patterns of problem behavior", and "developments in psychology and brain science continue to show fundamental differences between juvenile and adult minds", including "parts of the brain involved in behavior control."

The legislature also finds that minors are more vulnerable to negative influences and outside pressures from their family, peers, and others. Minors also have limited control over their environment and lack the ability to extricate themselves from horrific and crime-producing settings. The Miller decision noted that, in Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005), and Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48 (2010), the Supreme Court emphasized that "the distinctive attributes of youth diminish the penological justifications for imposing the harshest sentences on juvenile offenders, even when they commit terrible crimes."

The legislature further acknowledges that the recent trend in the United States has been to allow greater judicial discretion when sentencing minors, even allowing judges to depart from mandatory minimum sentences in appropriate cases.

The purpose of this Act is to grant a circuit court, when sentencing a minor for a criminal offense, the discretion to:

(1) Impose a sentence that includes a period of incarceration that is as much as fifty per cent shorter than any mandatory minimum; and

(2) In certain cases, decline to impose a mandatory enhanced sentence.

SECTION 2. Chapter 706, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to part I to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"706- Sentencing of minors. (1) In a case in which the family court has waived jurisdiction over a minor pursuant to section 571-22 and the minor is convicted of a criminal offense in circuit court, the circuit court shall consider, in addition to any other factor that the court is required to consider, the differences between minor and adult offenders, including the diminished culpability of minors as compared to that of adults, and the typical characteristics of youth.

(2) Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, after considering the factors set forth in subsection (1), the circuit court, in its discretion:

(a) May impose a sentence that includes a period of incarceration that is shorter than any mandatory minimum otherwise required by law; provided that the period of incarceration shall not be shorter than half of the mandatory minimum otherwise required by law; and

(b) When imposing any sentence that includes a period of incarceration of five years or more, may decline to impose a mandatory sentencing enhancement otherwise required by law."

SECTION 3. This Act does not affect rights and duties that matured, penalties that were incurred, and proceedings that were begun before its effective date.

SECTION 4. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 5. This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2021.

 

INTRODUCED BY:

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Report Title:

Minors; Circuit Courts; Criminal Proceedings; Sentencing

 

Description:

Grants a circuit court, when sentencing a minor for a criminal offense, the discretion to impose a sentence that includes a period of incarceration that is as much as 50% shorter than any mandatory minimum and, in certain cases, decline to impose a mandatory enhanced sentence.

 

 

 

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