State v. Gregg

Sebastian Gregg was sentenced to 37 years in prison for helping an adult co-defendant commit a homicide under the co-defendant's coercion of threats to harm Sebastian and his family if he declined to participate. Even though Sebastian was only 17 years old at the time of the crime, the sentence he received was almost the maximum sentence permissible for an adult under Washington law and two years longer than the sentence imposed on his adult co-defendant.

Juvenile Law Center filed an amicus brief in the Washington Supreme Court in support of Sebastian. We argued that under both the Federal and Washington Constitutions there is a presumption that age is a mitigating factor in sentencing when children are tried as adults and that the burden of proof should be on the prosecution to disprove the mitigating effect of age.

The Washington Supreme Court upheld Sebastian’s sentence and held that “placing the burden on juvenile defendants in adult court to prove mitigating circumstances is constitutional under [Washington’s] state constitution.”