Non-homicide Offenses by a Juvenile Offender in California

In People v. Caballero (2012) 55 Cal.4th 262, the trial court sentenced a 16-year-old defendant to three consecutive 15-year-to-life terms for nonhomicide offenses. With firearm enhancements the total sentence was 110 years to life. The People argued that Graham v. Florida (2010) does not apply because each of the sentences taken separately included the possibility of parole within the defendant's lifetime. Our Supreme Court rejected that argument. The court held that a 110-year minimum term violates Graham's requirement that the state must provide a juvenile offender some realistic opportunity to obtain release. (People v. Caballero, supra, 55 Cal.4th at p. 268.) In Graham v. Florida (2010) 560 U.S. 48, a 16-year-old was convicted of armed burglary and attempted armed robbery. He was granted probation. But when he committed other crimes, the court revoked his probation and sentenced him to life in prison for the burglary. Because Florida had abolished its parole system, Graham had no possibility of parole. The Supreme Court held that for a juvenile offender convicted of a nonhomicide offense the Eighth Amendment requires the state to afford the offender a "meaningful opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation." (Graham v. Florida, supra, 560 U.S. at p. 75.)