We covered what a juvenile lifer is in a previous blog, you can find that information as well as a more detailed history of how we got to this point here. If you weren’t currently aware, the state of Michigan is undergoing an overhaul as to how juveniles charged with serious cases are sentenced. A recent Supreme Court ruling has deemed life sentences for juvenile offenders unconstitutional, and as such, have required all juveniles who have been sentenced to a life term to be brought back for resentencing under the new rules. This ruling affected about 350 cases, and they are slowly having their cases brought back to court for a possible second chance. About half of these cases have been brought back for resentencing since the Supreme Court made its decision retroactive to all juvenile lifer cases back in January of 2016. Here is a recent story dealing with one of these cases:
The Original Case
At the age of 16, Charles Finch was convicted for his role in conspiracy, robbery, and the first-degree murder in the stabbing death of a man of a man in his home. The victim’s then-fiancé promised to share the proceeds of a life insurance policy if they killed the victim. Finch committed this crime with two others, who were 17 and 14 years old then respectively. The three teens went to the victim’s house in Jackson, Michigan and were let inside where the victim was beaten, bound, robbed, and ultimately stabbed to death. It was not alleged that Finch stabbed the victim, rather it was it was one of the other boys who did. Finch, however, was accused of hitting the victim over the head with a wrench during the robbery.
His Conviction And Sentence
Finch was convicted and sentenced to mandatory life without the possibility of parole in 1976. He was resentenced in late 2018 to serve 40 to 60 years for one count of first-degree murder and a life term for one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. This new sentence was brought under scrutiny as there were questions if this new sentence was actually a legal one. The case went to the Michigan Court of Appeals over whether the judge was able to resentence Finch on the conspiracy charge. The Court of Appeals has now affirmed that the judge had the authority to resentence Finch on all the charges. This new sentence gave Finch the light at the end of the tunnel that he never had before, a chance to possible be paroled.
His Parole And Release
During Finch’s resentencing hearing, Finch asked for forgiveness from the victim’s family in a dramatic scene. The victim’s family asked the judge to allow Finch to work towards parole with the chance he could be released. Finch was paroled in September of last year and while the decision regarding his release was actually made before the Court of Appeals decision, it appears that everyone here was working towards the same goal, a second chance for Finch, who had spent over 40 years in prison starting at the age of 16.
Where Do These Cases Stand Now?
The laws surrounding juvenile cases can be complicated and as you can see, it can leave cases unsettled for a long time. Michigan has the second highest number of juvenile lifer cases in the county behind only Pennsylvania. The process surrounding the resentencing of these cases has moved slowly, but as courts close cases like Finch’s, it helps fully turn the page past the juvenile lifer era. We are about halfway through the resentencing of the 350 or so juvenile lifer cases that existed in the state of Michigan.
Any Further Questions?
If you have any questions regarding this case or anything else regarding the juvenile case of you or a loved one, we offer a FREE consultation. Our attorneys at Grabel and Associates have over 100 years of combined experience in successfully representing juveniles in criminal cases all over the state of Michigan. Feel free to contact us on our 24/7 defense line at 1-800-342-7896, contacts us online, or come visit us at any one of our three statewide locations. We can also come to you.