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State v. Tyler Watkins WSSC #94973-5

WACDL filed an amicus brief on Mr. Watkins behalf addressing the issue of whether Washington's automatic decline statute which requires prosecution of youth in the adult criminal justice system with no hearing or other procedural protections prior to transferring the case pursuant to RCW 13.04.020(0(e)(v) is unconstitutional.



Amicus briefing focused on the past decade of US Supreme Court decisions that have recognized that youth are developmentally different from adults and that these differences warrant distinct treatment under the U.S. Constitution. Another WACDL amicus case recently decided acknowledged that children are different and criminal procedure laws must take youthfulness into account at sentencing. State v. Houston-Sconiers, 188 Wn.2d 1 (2017).

WACDL, and other amici, argue that the automatic decline statute violates a juvenile’s state and federal rights to due process in light of current jurisprudence and developmental research. In treating children like adults based solely on their age and the offense with which they have been charged, without a hearing, the statute fails to pass constitutional muster and must be invalidated.

WACDL Amicus Author

Tom Weaver

Appellate Author

Travis Stearns

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