In re Domingo-Cornelio/In re Ali – Children are Different
On March 2, 2017, in State v. Houston-Sconiers, the Washington Supreme Court held that juveniles (anyone under 18) prosecuted and sentenced in adult court are subject to a different set of sentencing requirements. Simply stated, a judge who sentences a juvenile in adult court must consider a variety of facts that make juveniles “different” from adults, such as brain development and ability to change. In addition, a judge has the “complete discretion” to impose a sentence below the standard sentencing range and below any otherwise-mandatory sentence provisions (such as, but not limited to, the 20 year minimum for Murder 1 and the 5 year consecutive terms for firearm enhancements on Class A felonies). On September 17, 2020, the Washington Supreme Court decided two cases (In re PRP of Ali and In re PRP of Domingo-Cornelio) which held that the new rules of juvenile sentencing apply to old cases (the new rules are “retroactive”). As a result, anyone under age 18 at the time of their crime(s) who was prosecuted and sentenced in adult court prior to March 2, 2017 may be entitled to a new sentencing hearing where the new sentencing rules under Houston-Sconiers must be applied.