State v. PowellAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court denying Defendant’s request for a downward departure from the hard twenty-five life sentence under Jessica’s Law and, in so holding, clarified the process for district court consideration of motions to depart under Jessica’s Law.
Defendant pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated indecent liberties with a child under fourteen, a conviction that carried a hard twenty-five life sentence under Jessica’s Law. At sentencing, Defendant requested a downward departure to 29.5 months’ imprisonment. The district court denied Defendant’s motion and imposed the hard twenty-five life sentence. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded, holding that the record was ambiguous as to whether the district court weighed evidence about an uncharged prior molestation against Defendant’s evidence in mitigation. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the record did not establish that the district court abused its discretion by improperly weighing aggravating and mitigating circumstances; and (2) district courts considering a departure motion need not affirmatively state they are not weighing aggravating and mitigating circumstances.