People v. Hardin Court: California Courts of Appeal, Docket: B315434 (Second Appellate District), Opinion Date: October 18, 2022. Defendant was convicted in 1990 of special-circumstance felony murder for a crime committed when he was 25 years old. Current law entitles anyone who commits a special-circumstance murder at age 16 or 17 is entitled to both a Youth Offender Parole Hearing and a Franklin Hearing. However, those who commit a special-circumstance murder at 18 or older are ineligible for both. Defendant challenged California law on Equal Protection grounds. The Second Appellate District agreed with Defendant, finding there is no rational basis to support the Legislature’s distinction between young adult offenders who committed a special-circumstance murder and were sentenced to life without parole and other young adult offenders who committed different serious or violent crimes and received parole-eligible indeterminate life terms, including those that could be the functional equivalent of a life without parole sentence. Thus, the court determined that Defendant was eligible for a Youth Offender Parole Hearing as well as a Franklin Hearing.
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