No Lesser Sentence for Juvenile Carjacker, Appeals Court Rules
The D.C. Court of Appeals on Thursday affirmed the mandatory seven-year jail sentence of a convicted carjacker who was only 16 years old at the time of his offenses.
Court papers show that Juan Peterson, who was arrested alongside several other persons for "a series of armed carjackings," had pleaded guilty to one count of unarmed carjacking and another count of armed robbery. On appeal, however, his lawyers argued the trial court erred in imposing the mandatory minimum sentence of seven years imprisonment for carjacking instead of a lesser sentence allowed under the D.C. Youth Rehabilitation Act.
The appellate court disagreed: "We cannot accept this argument because we have already held in [another case] that the carjacking statue requires a mandatory minimum seven-year sentence even when the legislature has provided for sentencing alternatives." Given the "plain language" of the District's carjacking law, the court ruled that "a person convicted of carjacking must receive a term of at least seven years imprisonment, and must serve each and every day of those seven years."