Maryland Democrats’ bill would block people under 25 from being charged with felony murder

Maryland Democrats are pushing a bill in the state legislature that would prevent anyone under the age of 25 from being charged with felony murder.

Democratic Del. Charlotte Cruchfield introduced into the Maryland General Assembly the Youth Accountability and Safety Act, which would prohibit a person younger than 25 at the time of the offense from being convicted of first-degree murder under the state’s felony murder provisions.

Under those provisions, murder is classified as being in the first degree if it was committed during the perpetration or attempted perpetration of several specified crimes, such as rape, arson, robbery, burglary, carjacking, and other serious offenses.

But with Cruchfield’s proposal, which has the support of several Democratic co-sponsors, anyone under age 25 who murders someone while trying to commit one of these other crimes couldn’t be charged with first-degree murder — a crime that in Maryland carries life imprisonment with or without the possibility of parole.

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The bill has become a lightning rod, with critics arguing the effects of such a proposal becoming law could be devastating.

“If this bill passes, you’re going to have kingpins, you’re going to have gangs use juveniles to do their dirty work,” Republican Del. Susan McComas told local Fox affiliate WBFF.

Law enforcement officials expressed similar sentiments.

“The solution is not changing the law to excuse or to make excuses for the violator,” said Harford County Sheriff Jeff Gahler. “The process that needs to be in place is to hold that person accountable.”

Maury Richards, a law enforcement expert and former police chief in Martinsburg, W.Va., added that there’s “a crime wave of violence going on right now,” but “we’re hung up on whether 25-year-olds should be charged with murder.”

Proponents of the bill argue the brain is not fully developed until about the age 25.

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However, Republican opponents counter that Democrats only use mental capacity when it comes to crime policies.

“Proponents of the bill say that the human brain is not fully formed in the frontal lobes until age 25,” said McComas. “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.”

Five cities in Maryland currently allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in municipal elections.

Another area of Maryland pushing to lower the voting age is Howard County, where the Board of Education is composed of eight members, including one reserved for a student elected by their peers in grades six through 11. Sixth graders are typically 11 or 12 years old.

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When it comes to criminal justice reform, the issue of age has become a contentious topic in Maryland in recent weeks. Gov. Wes Moore’s pick to run the Juvenile Justice Service, Vincent Schiraldi, has said no one under the age of 21 should be introduced to the justice system because the brain is not fully developed.

The Youth Accountability and Safety Act is currently making its way through the state House. Fox News Digital has reached out to Cruchfield for comment.