For many years Steve Thayer has practiced on the cutting edge in defending child pornography cases. These cases are highly specialized and require a level of experience and expertise most criminal lawyers simply don’t possess.
Last week Mr. Thayer achieved a breakthrough in sentencing for a client convicted of three counts of possession of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. In all cases, judges are required to sentence within the standard sentencing range, unless exceptional circumstances can be proven to impose a sentence either above or below the standard sentencing range. There are lots of reasons for judges to impose higher sentences, but it is very rare for a judge to impose a sentence below the range. The court has to be convinced that a mitigating circumstance justifies lenience. In this case Mr. Thayer proved that his client had suffered a horrific childhood which included being sexually abused and exposed to child pornography by his own father starting when he was only four years old. Mr. Thayer arranged a psychosexual evaluation and counseling for his client, and called two experts at sentencing to explain that if you’re raised to think that child pornography is “okay” then you are going to be more likely to see it as acceptable when you are an adult. The law recognizes a mitigating circumstance where an offender’s ability to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct or conform his conduct to the requirements of the law is substantially impaired. Mr. Thayer succeeded in convincing the court that this mitigating circumstance applied to his client’s case, and the court imposed a more lenient sentence as a result. We are unaware of this mitigating circumstance having ever being argued before in the state of Washington.