Paths to Resentencing

Thanks to developments in the law in Washington State, you or someone you care about could be able to go back to court for a new sentence, assuming that the new sentence would not be greater than the original sentence. This blog will discuss five different ways that people serving life or long prison sentences could get sentence relief in our state.

If you think that you or a loved one might fall within one of these paths to resentencing, you can talk to a Washington criminal defense attorney to get started.

Three Strikes – Robbery Removed

Second-degree robbery convictions used to count toward the “three strikes” rule in Washington. Under the three strikes rule, getting convicted of three crimes on the “most serious offenses” list resulted in an automatic life sentence, regardless of the standard term of imprisonment for the third offense.

Washington took robbery in the second degree off of the three strikes rule most serious offenses list and made the change retroactive. The change in the law mandates resentencing hearings for people who got sentenced under the old rule. A person who got sentenced as a persistent offender can request a new sentencing hearing.

Youth Sentencing

People who got sentenced to life in prison without parole for aggravated murder offenses committed before they turned 18 can get a new sentencing hearing. This change in Washington law was in response to the U.S. Supreme Court declaring that sentencing minors to mandatory life sentences is unconstitutional. 

Young Adult Sentencing 

If a person got sentenced to mandatory life without parole for a conviction of aggravated murder for an offense committed when the offender was between the ages of 18 and 20 years, they can get a resentencing hearing. The sentencing must have happened before March 2, 2017, because at that point, trial courts received the right to exercise discretion when sentencing minors charged as adults. Before that date, courts had to impose a mandatory sentence of life without parole.

Simple Possession Statute Declared Unconstitutional

Individuals who got sentenced under the previous statute that criminalized simple possession of a controlled substance can get a new sentencing hearing because that statute is no longer valid. The person’s conviction can get vacated. Also, if a conviction under the old statute counted in the individual’s offender score, they can get a resentencing hearing using their new offender score after deducting the simple possession conviction.

Also, there have been several changes to the drug offense statutes in our state in the past few years, but not all of those changes were made retroactively immediately. The legislature fixed this oversight and now allows people to request resentencing hearings if they got sentenced under the old laws and their new sentence would not be longer than their previous one.

A Catch-All Category

Finally, we have all heard stories on the news about someone who got convicted of a crime and sentenced to what sounds like a shockingly long sentence relative to the offense committed.  Washington created a law that allows prosecutors to ask for a resentencing hearing when the sentence the person is serving does not serve the interests of justice. 

No matter what category might be applicable to your situation, you will want to talk to a Washington criminal defense attorney about requesting a resentencing hearing. Contact Jennifer today for help with your case.

DISCLAIMER: This post is intended to share my perspective, insights, and some general information on various aspects of criminal cases. It is not legal advice and is not intended to substitute for legal advice. You should consult an attorney to obtain legal advice for your individual situation and case.