Ex post facto laws are forbidden by the United States Constitution, and this protection prohibits the government from charging you with a crime using a law that was created after the crime was committed. If it was not a crime at the time an actor committed an act, then the actor may not be charged when the act becomes a crime. But protection against ex post facto laws effect more than just the elements of a crime, it also effects sentencing and punishment. The links below describe an unusual situation involving a cold case murder. Read the articles and discuss the questions below.
Man, 52, Is Convicted as a Juvenile in a 1976 Murder, Creating a Legal Tangle
10-year prison term imposed in cold case murder of Westfield woman
- Should a 52 year-old man who has eluded justice for so many years enjoy protections normally afforded juvenile defendants simply because he was 15 when he committed the crime?
- Why do ex post facto protections always work to the benefit of the accused regarding sentencing even when there was a more severe sentence available at the time the crime was committed?
- Should the law be able to punish this 52 year old man for not turning himself in for such a long period of time? Is there an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would prevent the criminal justice system from punishing him for not confessing?