King County Prosecutor Satterberg seeks tougher sentences for juveniles with illegal guns

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg announced Wednesday a renewed effort aimed at increasing sentence ranges for juveniles who illegally possess firearms.

  • Wednesday, November 28, 2012 6:47pm
  • News

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg announced Wednesday a renewed effort aimed at increasing sentence ranges for juveniles who illegally possess firearms.

Juvenile gun crimes have increased dramatically across the state and the proposal has gained the support of gun rights advocates and Washington Ceasefire. In a news conference Wednesday, Satterberg was joined by gun rights advocate Dave Workman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and Ralph Fascitelli of Washington Ceasefire, who support reforming juvenile gun laws.

State Sen. Adam Kline and State Rep. Chris Hurst also expressed their support at the news conference, as did Seattle City Attorney Peter Holmes.

Satterberg said he will take this measure to the Washington State Legislators and ask them to introduce a bill in the 2013 legislative session.

It currently takes five convictions of unlawful possession of a firearm second degree before a juvenile is sent to the Department of Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration (JRA), where the youth will serve a sentence of 15 weeks. The proposal by Satterberg would call for a mandatory 10-day sentence upon the first conviction, and a 15-week sentence upon the second conviction.

“On most issues you would not find common ground between Washington Ceasefire and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, but they join together with prosecutors on this issue,” Satterberg said. “Our state law regarding illegal gun possession by juveniles is ridiculously lenient, and serves neither the youth nor public safety,” he added.

Under current law a juvenile must be convicted of five felonies before a conviction for Unlawful Possession of a Firearm in the Second Degree (UPFA 2) results in a sentence at the Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration (JRA) of 15 to 36 weeks.

Current law calls for a mandatory 10-day sentence for the first four convictions for UPFA 2nd Degree. Numerous sentencing alternatives exist however, that can make the mandatory 10-day sentence meaningless. Current Washington state law sends a strong message to juveniles that carrying a gun is no big deal, Satterberg said.

Under the proposed changes, juveniles convicted of illegal gun possession will have to serve a mandatory 10-day sentence on their first conviction.  Juveniles who have already been convicted of a felony or who are convicted a second time of illegal gun possession will be sent to JRA to serve a sentence of 15 to 36 weeks. The proposal would eliminate sentencing alternatives that permit juveniles to escape serving the mandatory 10-day sentence called for under current law on their first illegal gun possession conviction.

Satterberg believes that while at JRA, a gun violence education curriculum should be developed for juvenile offenders serving sentences for illegal gun possession that offers a realistic lesson on the medical and legal consequences of carrying and using firearms.

In King County armed juvenile crime that results in “automatic adult prosecution” of a juvenile has more than doubled in recent years, from just 19 cases in 2008 to 66 in 2009, 54 in 2010 and 41 in 2011. This year is on a similar pace. Approximately 65 percent of these “auto adult” cases involve the use of a firearm.

Most of the crimes resulting in this dramatic increase in juvenile violence are gun-related, either resulting in death, serious bodily injury or the extreme risk of a drive-by shooting. These crimes of violence result in 20 to 30 year adult prison sentences for juvenile offenders ages 16 and 17, and cause the victim’s family incredible pain and suffering.

“Under present law, we do virtually nothing to or for a young person caught with an illegal gun,” Satterberg said, “but when they actually use that gun in a crime, we put them in adult court and come down on them like a ton of bricks.”

By sending the right message upon the first conviction, that carrying a gun is illegal and dangerous, prosecutors hope to deter youth from future acts of gun violence.

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

State Capitol in Olympia.
State House approves bill to restore streamlined sales tax funds

Measure would mean about $4 million per year to city of Kent

Cindi Blansfield, Auburn School District’s Associate Superintendent for Business and Operations, describes measures the school district has taken to ensure the safety of students and teachers before schools began hybrid learning Wednesday, March 3. ROBERT WHALE, Auburn Reporter.
Safety measures in place for Auburn students in hybrid learning

In-person learning began March 3 for kindergarten through 5th grade

File photo
The Bridges housing development is in the city of Kent but surrounded by properties in the city of Auburn. The developer wants to build 150 townhouses on 13 acres near the homes. FILE PHOTO, Kent Reporter
Kent City Council votes 4-3 against land-use change for townhouses

Ordinance expected to be considered again at March 16 meeting

Free virtual parent workshops offered to Kent School District families

Goal to help families support their student’s social emotional wellness

Stock photo
State bill creating Office of Independent Investigations passes House

Kent’s Entenman sponsors measure to oversee police uses of force

There were lots of donations to sort from the Kent Police blanket and pillow drive for children. COURTESY PHOTO, Kent Police
Kent residents donate hundreds of blankets, pillows for children

Police held drive outside department headquarters

Freshwater variety of kokanee salmon from Lake Sammamish. File photo
Encouraging numbers for kokanee salmon spawn count

Lake Sammamish kokanee aren’t out of the woods by any stretch, but… Continue reading

Courtesy Photo, Kent School District
Moody’s upgrades Kent School District bond rating

District has a solid financial position

Most Read