A Maryland House of Delegates member introduced on Feb. 10 legislation to raise the minimum age prosecutors are allowed to charge a suspect accused of felony murder.
Democrat Maryland Delegate Charlotte Cruchfield introduced HB 1180, or the Youth Accountability and Safety Act that would prevent anyone under 25 from being charged with felony murder, according to the bill.
“Providing that a person who was under the age of 25 years at the time of the offense may not be found to have committed murder in the first degree if the charge is based on a murder committed in the perpetration or attempt to perpetrate a certain felony,” the bill states.
HB 1180 blocks anyone under 25 from being charged with murder in the first degree under Maryland law, automatically lowering their count to second-degree murder, and removing the possibility of a life sentence. The maximum penalty for second-degree murder is 40 years in prison.
First-degree felony murder under Maryland law includes:
- a deliberate, premeditated, and willful killing; committed by lying in wait; committed by poison;
- committed in the perpetration of or an attempt to perpetrate: arson in the first degree;
- burglary in the first, second, or third degree;
- carjacking or armed carjacking;
- Escape in the first degree from a state correctional facility or a local correctional facility;
- sexual offense in the first or second degree
Maryland House Bill 1180 by Mary Rooke on Scribd
The Maryland General Assembly‘s “racial equity impact note” on HB 1180 claims it will positively impact the number of black residents in Maryland facing charges for first-degree felony murder.
“The bill’s provisions prohibiting individuals under the age of 25 from being convicted of first-degree murder in specified circumstances would have a potentially meaningful impact on Black or African American individuals in this age bracket who face arrest for murder, in general, at a disproportionately high rate,” the note stated.
Of the 269 arrests for any degree of murder in 2020, black individuals were arrested as suspects in 111 of those cases, the note reported.
Republican Maryland Delegate Susan McComas told ABC 7 on Wednesday that Democrats are picking and choosing when the age of reason applies to the state’s residents depending on their stance on progressive issues like criminal justice and transgender procedures for minors.
“Proponents of the bill say that the human brain is not fully formed in the frontal lobes until age 25. But yet, we’re doing other things in the general assembly, letting children vote earlier and earlier, letting them get hormone-inducing drugs to change their sex,” she said.
McComas warned the outlet that the bill’s lowered penalties for murder would encourage criminal organizations to use anyone under 25 to commit these violent acts.
“If this bill passes, you’re going to have kingpins, you’re going to have gangs use juveniles to do their dirty work,” said McComas.
The bill would go into effect on Oct. 1, 2023.