Governor Jay Nixon has signed a law that will allow juveniles guilty of first-degree murder to be sentenced.

Senator Bob Dixon (photo; Mike Lear, Missourinet)

Senator Bob Dixon sponsored the juvenile sentencing bill. (photo; Mike Lear, Missourinet)

The court ruled in 2005 that juveniles cannot be sentenced to death, and ruled in 2012 there must be a sentencing option for them in addition to or other than life without parole. The measure Nixon signed lets prosecutors seek a life term with the possibility of parole or 30-40 years in prison. Life without parole is still an option if prosecutors prove certain aggravating factors were involved in the crime.

Missouri Prosecuting Attorneys Association president Kevin Hillman says the new law brings Missouri into compliance with the Court’s rulings.

“It will allow our juries to have some options when it comes to some of the very worst crimes committed by people who just might be under the age of 18,” said Hillman.

Hillman said without the new law, juries have had limited options in sentencing.

“What the judge has to do in order to make a sentence in compliance with the Supreme Court mandate is he has to vacate the murder in the first sentence and impose a murder in the second degree sentence, and then send it to sentencing,” said Hillman.

Hillman said that allowed a minimum sentence of 10-years for first-degree murder.