Until 2015, Washington trial courts did not consider the age and developmental maturity of adolescents (defined as 10-24 year olds) at sentencing in adult court. As a result, courts sentenced many youth and young adults to lengthy prison terms, without giving them the opportunity to present youth as mitigation in their cases.
In 2015, that practice changed when the Washington Supreme Court decided State v. O’Dell, holding that youth and its attendant characteristics may be relevant mitigating factors that courts can consider at sentencing, justifying a departure below the standard range even if an individual had reached the age of 18 at the time of the offense. The Court followed O’Dell in 2017 with State v. Houston-Sconiers, expanding O’Dell and holding that trial courts have full discretion to depart from the standard range as well as from any mandatory sentencing terms when sentencing children tried as adults.
Following these important decisions, many individuals sentenced prior to State v. O’Dell have come forward seeking relief from lengthy sentences imposed without consideration of youth and its attendant characteristics. In this CLE, presenter Jeff Ellis will discuss recent case developments and strategies for representing individuals impacted by O’Dell. Mr. Ellis has represented a number of individuals seeking post-conviction relief based on O’Dell, including Jai’Mar Scott and Kevin Light-Roth, two cases that reached the Washington Supreme Court in 2018.
This CLE will assist trial attorneys, appellate attorneys, as well as anyone who may be seeking to represent or assist clients sentenced for crimes committed when they were youthful, either as a youth under age 18 and charged as an adult, or as a young adult between the ages of 18 and 25.
1.0 Law and Legal Credit has been approved by the WSBA for this program.