The Feds Increased Prosecution of Domestic Terrorism

Detecting the Financing of Domestic Terrorism - Financial Crime News

Excellent article bMatt Zapotosky  and Devlin Barrett discusses how the Justice Department formed a new domestic terrorism unit.

The announcement came from Matthew G. Olsen, the head of the Justice Department’s national security division. Mr. Olson announced the creation of the unit in his opening remarks before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He said the number of FBI investigations of suspected domestic violent extremists had more than doubled since the spring of 2020.

“This group of dedicated attorneys will focus on the domestic terrorism threat, helping to ensure that these cases are handled properly and effectively coordinated across the Department of Justice and across the country.” ~Matthew G. Olsen, Justice Department’s National Security Division

Olsen sought to assure lawmakers that the Justice Department is investigating and prosecuting all of those who committed crimes, no matter what motivated them. Olsen said authorities had arrested and charged more than 725 people. Charges included more than 325 felonies in conneced to the January 6th attack on the Nation’s Capitol. According to the article, the FBI is seeking to identify and arrest more than 200 additional suspects.

The Justice Department and the bureau have faced criticism in recent years for not focusing as intensely on domestic terrorism as they do internationally inspired threats, though officials have insisted they take both matters seriously.

Last year, the White House released a national strategy to address the problem, calling for, among other things, new spending at the Justice Department and FBI to hire analysts, investigators and prosecutors. It is believed the Capitol attack will spur broad crackdown on domestic extremists.

Historically, domestic terrorism investigations come with more procedural and legal hurdles than cases involving suspects inspired by groups based outside the United States, such as the Islamic State or al-Qaeda. The charge of material support for a foreign terrorist group, for instance, has no legal equivalent for someone eager to commit violence in the name of domestic political goals.

My opinion? Obviously, the breach of the Capitol has spurred new political and policy debates abouthow the government combats domestic terrorism. This may trickle down to more localized prosecutions. State prosecutors may become emboldened to prosecute Hate Crimes and other crimes involving speech, race or political affiliations.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Do Increased Gun Sales Bring More Homicides?

Addressing Gun Violence by Reimagining Masculinity and Protection - Gender  Policy Report

Excellent article by reporters

Researchers began searching for a definitive explanation why murders in the United States soared to more than 21,000 in 2020.New data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) suggests that newly purchased weapons found their way into crimes much more quickly and often last year than in prior years. This data may prove that new guns led to more murders.

The ATF data are the result of tracing nearly 400,000 firearms in 2020. According to the bureau, firearms are traced only “at the request of a law enforcement agency engaged in a bona fide criminal investigation where a firearm has been used or is suspected to have been used in a crime.” Not all guns recovered by law enforcement are traced, and many guns that are used in crimes are never recovered by law enforcement to begin with. But the ATF’s data are the most robust source available for evaluating the increased use of firearms in the United States in 2020.

Reporters Asher and Arthur discuss the degree to which firearms purchased in 2020 featured in crimes committed in 2020. They say the ATF’s data set includes a measure known as the “time to crime” of each gun traced. Technically, this is the time from when a firearm was legally purchased to when it was recovered after a crime. On this metric, an enormous shift is apparent: The number of traced guns whose time to crime was a year or more increased by less than 1 percent in 2020 compared with 2019, but the number of guns whose time to crime was six months or less increased by 90 percent.

No data exist on exactly how many guns were sold in 2020. The best proxy is the number of firearm background checks performed by the FBI, which indicates an attempted purchase but doesn’t necessarily mean a completed one. These background checks surged dramatically in 2020, first when coronavirus cases began to appear in the U.S. and again after Floyd’s murder at the end of May. Background checks remained remarkably high for the first few months of 2021 but came down a bit during the second half of the year.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a firearm offenses or any other crimes. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Should We Criminalize “Big Lies?”

Write a Political Speech for Strategic Communications

Gov. Jay Inslee supports legislation to make it a gross misdemeanor for politicians to issue false statements about election outcomes.

Inslee announced his support for the legislation during a legislative preview event hosted by the Associated Press which coincided with the anniversary of the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump.

The three-term Democratic governor, in his most extensive comments on the subject to date, spoke passionately about his concern for the state of democracy in the United States and his belief that Trump is engaged in an ongoing coup attempt. He called for politicians on both sides of the aisle to speak out more forcefully against the former president and his allies.

“It should not be legal in the state of Washington for elected officials or candidates for office to willfully lie about these election results, and unfortunately they are doing that . . . This needs to be made illegal . . . The violence of January 6 of last year is just a warning of what is coming and the basis of it is the ‘Big Lie’ . . . That’s why I’m calling on all elected officials of both parties to join together arm-in-arm and call that out.” ~Governor Jay Inslee

The “Big Lie” is a reference to the false assertion by Trump and his supporters that the 2020 election was stolen.

“The defeated president and his allies, including some legislators in Washington state, are perpetuating the belief that this election was stolen from them,” Inslee said. “What do you think is going to happen if you perpetuate that belief? Of course violence can be happening as a result of that.”

Regarding his proposal to criminalize false statements about elections, Inslee said the “finishing touches” were being put on a draft of the bill and that his office was talking to lawmakers about sponsoring it. The proposal would be narrowly tailored to target “lies about free and fair elections when it has the likelihood to stoke violence.”

Inslee defended the idea of criminalizing unsupported claims of election fraud and stolen elections — if they’re likely to result in violence — as not a violation of freedom of speech. The governor likened the rhetoric about elections being stolen to “yelling fire in a crowded theater.”

“The defeated president as recently as an hour ago is yelling fire in the crowded theater of democracy,” Inslee said, referring to statements Trump issued Thursday. Those statements included: “Never forget the crime of the 2020 Presidential Election. Never give up!”

My opinion? Many believe the incendiary rhetoric of political leaders makes political violence more likely. It gives violence direction, complicates the law enforcement response, and increases fear in vulnerable communities.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime involving political speech. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Political Violence

Political Violence Threatens to Destabilize America | Time

Wonderful article from CNN reporter Paul LeBlanc discusses the rising acceptance of political violence in the aftermath of the January 6th riot.

According to LeBlanc, two recent polls on this issue show our country is deeply divided on political lines. Thirty-four percent of Americans think violent action against the government is sometimes justified, according to a poll from The Washington Post and the University of Maryland released Saturday. The survey, conducted December 17-19, revealed stark partisan splits. Apparently, 40% of Republicans and 41% of independents said violence against government is sometimes justified, compared with 23% of Democrats.

Our New Normal? Listen to what David Frum, a veteran of the George W. Bush White House, told CNN’s Brian Stelter this weekend about the mentality of Trump’s allies and followers a year after the Capitol attack.

LeBlanc also discusses a recent survey from the Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School that found most American adults younger than 30 are concerned about the US and its democracy. Young adults say, by 55% to 44%, that they’re more fearful than hopeful about the future of America. This shows a shift from earlier in 2021, when most said they were hopeful. Only about one-third describe the US as a healthy or even “somewhat functioning” democracy, with 52% saying it’s a “democracy in trouble” or that it’s failed altogether.
Young Republicans are especially pessimistic. 70% say American democracy is in trouble or failed, compared with 45% of young Democrats who say the same.
“After turning out in record numbers in 2020, young Americans are sounding the alarm . . . When they look at the America they will soon inherit, they see a democracy and climate in peril — and Washington as more interested in confrontation than compromise.” ~John Della Volpe, Director of the Institute of Politics Polling
My opinion? There’s a fine line between freedom of speech and political violence. Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with Harassment, Resisting Arrest, or any other crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

2021: Deadly for Drivers

Excellent article by journalist David Kroman found that 2021 was the deadliest on Washington roads in 15 years.

Washington for the year saw 540 fatal crashes, which killed more than 600 people, according to data from the Washington State Department of Transportation. Not since 2006 have the numbers been that high. In 118 of the year’s fatal crashes, a bicyclist or pedestrian was killed. An additional 2,411 crashes in 2021 resulted in likely serious injury — also the most since 2006 and 16% more than in 2020.

Alcohol- and drug-influenced serious and fatal crashes remained high in 2021, sustaining a harrowing 25% jump from 2019 to 2020. Speed, too, continued to play an outsized role after climbing nearly 18% in 2020.

Kroman reports that in Seattle, 31 people were killed in car crashes in 2021, according to preliminary data from the Seattle Department of Transportation. That, too, is the most since 2006. Jim Curtain, project development director at SDOT, said 19 of those deaths were pedestrians, and nearly half involved hit-and-runs. The city has also seen a jump in impaired driving, Curtain said.

INTERPRETING THE DATA

Kroman reports that early in the pandemic, reports from state troopers suggested behavior behind the wheel had become more extreme. There was a rise of speed-related crashes and so-called “aggressive drivers.” As the roads emptied, drivers could more easily hit triple digits on their speedometers. Combined with a rise in alcohol and drug use, collisions that may have been moderate in 2019 became serious or deadly in 2020.

As traffic returns, 2021’s picture is less obvious. Speed and distraction are almost certainly at the trend’s core, said Mark Hallenbeck, director of the Washington State Transportation Center at the University of Washington. But there’s another, more nebulous cause that’s even more difficult to track.

“We have a pissed-off society . . . When you are in your big metal box of a car, you have an awful lot of ability to act out your frustrations both with accelerator and brake.” ~Mark Hallenbeck, director of the Washington State Transportation Center

HOW WASHINGTON COMPARES

Washington’s 6% rise in serious and fatal crashes from 2019 to 2020 was close to average for the country that year, which saw a national 7% spike, according to the National Safety Council. Maine, Arkansas and Washington, D.C., experienced the sharpest jumps, each over 30%. Rhode Island saw a 24% increase.

My opinion? The stressors of 2020-21 — isolation, uncertainty, fear — remain. And with them comes an environment still conducive to risk, substance abuse and high speeds. Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a DUI, Reckless Driving or any other crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Parents in Prison

Tips to Support Children When a Parent is in Prison - HealthyChildren.org

A fact sheet from the Sentencing Project gives key facts on parents in prison. It illustrates the policies that impede their ability to care for their children when released from prison. Here’s an overview:

  • In 2016, 47% of people in state prisons and 57% in federal prisons were parents of minor children.
  • Most parents in prison are fathers (626,800 fathers compared to 57,700 mothers).
  • The number of fathers in prison increased 48% and the number of mothers in prison increased 96% between 1991 and 2016.

Also according to the article, 2.7 million children have a parent serving time in prison or jail on any given day, and over 5.2 million have had an incarcerated parent at some point during their lives. Furthermore, the percentage of children who have experienced parental incarceration varies widely state to state, from a low of 3% in New Jersey to a high of 13% in Kentucky.

The prevalence of parental incarceration also varies considerably by race. In 2018, 20% of Native children, 13% of Black children, 6% of Latinx children, and 6% of white children had experienced parental incarceration at some point in their lives.

According to the National Institute of Justice, the impacts of parental incarceration on children bring terribly negative consequences. They include psychological stress, antisocial behavior, academic suspension or expulsion, economic hardship, and criminal activity.

The growth and decline of the number of children with imprisoned parents mirrors the changing incarceration rates of the past few decades. Between 1972 and 2009, the U.S. prison population increased nearly 700%, due to policy changes including long mandatory sentences, the declining use of parole, and more punitive responses to substance use disorders.

The arrest of a parent can be traumatic for many children. As noted in a comprehensive review of research on children with incarcerated parents, the arrest and removal of a mother or father from a child’s life forces that child to confront emotional, social and economic consequences that may trigger behavior problems, poor outcomes in school and a disruption or severance of the relationship with the incarcerated parent that may persist even after the parent is released from prison.

I work hard to reunite families separated by the criminal justice system. Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Rape By Forcible Compulsion

Sexual Assault Laws WA State | Tario & Associates, P.S.

In State v. Gene, the WA Court of Appeals held that for a charge of Rape in the Second Degree by Forcible Compulsion, the force must be directed at overcoming the victim’s resistance. If a victim is unconscious or unable to respond there is no resistance to overcome.

BACKGROUND FACTS

The defendant Mr. Gene and K.M. had a “brother-and-sister-like friendship.” During the summer of 2018, they hung out almost all the time every weekend together with a group of their friends. On the evening of August 29, 2018, Gene and two of his friends, Jesus Montano and Sedrick Hill, went to K.M.’s apartment. K.M.’s friend Rachel Charles was already present. The group used the hot tub in K.M.’s apartment complex, consumed alcohol, and listened to music. At some point during the evening, they went up to K.M.’s apartment and played a drinking game.

Eventually, K.M. began to feel unstable and sick. She went to the bathroom and began vomiting. Still feeling nauseous and dizzy, K.M. went to her bedroom to sleep. K.M. felt uncomfortable and nauseous in her bed, so she took a comforter and slept in a fetal position on the floor. At trial, K.M. testified that Gene sexually assaulted her while she slept on the floor.

Gene was charged with numerous counts of Rape in the Second Degree by Forcible Compulsion. A jury found Gene not guilty of Counts 1 and 3, and guilty of Count 2. Gene appealed his  sole conviction on arguments that insufficient evidence existed to support it.

COURT’S ANALYSIS AND CONCLUSIONS

The WA Court of Appeals began by defining “Forcible compulsion” under the statute.
In short, “Forcible compulsion” means physical force which overcomes resistance, or a threat, express or implied, that places a person in fear of death or physical injury to herself or himself or another person, or in fear that she or he or another person will be kidnapped.

Next the Court interpreted WA’s case law. Quoting State v. McKnight, it said that in order for there to be forcible compulsion, there must have been force that was “directed at overcoming the victim’s resistance and was more than that which is normally required to achieve penetration.” Furthermore, the resistance that forcible compulsion overcomes need not be physical resistance, but it must be reasonable resistance under the circumstances.

“Here, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, K.M. did not resist the penetration of her vagina by Gene’s penis. K.M.’s testimony, set forth in full above, was that she was unconscious or unable to respond when Gene engaged in sexual contact with her. Because K.M. was unable to respond, she could not resist the penile-vaginal assault and there was no resistance for Gene to overcome.” ~WA Court of Appeals

Accordingly, under these circumstances, no reasonable juror could find beyond a reasonable doubt that Gene resorted to forcible compulsion to engage in penile penetration of K.M.’s vagina. Thus, the evidence was insufficient. With that, the Court of Appeals reversed Gene’s conviction and remanded for further proceedings.

However, the Court of Appeals also mentioned Gene for rape in the second degree by means of engaging in sexual intercourse with a person who is incapable of consent by reason of being physically helpless or mentally incapacitated.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a sex ofense or any other crime. The Fourteenth Amendment due process clause both requires that
every element of a charged crime be proved beyond a reasonable doubt and
guarantees a defendant the right to a unanimous jury verdict. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Pandemic Gun Sales

Coronavirus: US gun sales soar amid Covid-19 pandemic fears - YouTube

Great article in the thetrace.org by reporter Champe Barton discusses new data suggesting a connection between Pandemic gun sales and increased violence.

In March 2020, as the first COVID-19 outbreaks rippled across the U.S., Americans flocked to gun stores. In total, civilians purchased some 19 million firearms over the next nine months — shattering every annual sales record. At the same time, shootings across the country soared, with dozens of cities setting grim records for homicides.

Fresh data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) provides some of the first evidence that a relationship exists.

ATF data shows that in 2020, police recovered almost twice as many guns with a short “time-to-crime” — in this case, guns recovered within a year of their purchase — than in 2019. Law enforcement officials generally view a short time-to-crime as an indicator that a firearm was purchased with criminal intent. This is because a gun with a narrow window between sale and recovery is less likely to have changed hands. Altogether, more than 87,000 such guns were recovered in 2020, almost double the previous high. And almost 68,000 guns were recovered in 2020 with a time-to-crime of less than seven months. This means they were less likely to have been purchased the previous year.

Put more plainly, thousands of guns purchased in 2020 were almost immediately used in crimes — some as soon as a day after their sale. That was the case of the 9mm Beretta pistol purchased by an Arlington man from Uncle Dan’s Pawn Shop and Jewelry in Dallas, according to police records. Officers seized the gun from its owner during a drug arrest 24 hours later. In another example, a Laredo, Texas, man assaulted his mother, then opened fire on police with his Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 rifle in July 2020. The gun had been purchased at a Cabela’s in Ammon, Idaho, just three months earlier.

The research shows that immediate booms in access to firearms almost always lead to corresponding spikes in violence.

Dr. Garen Wintemute directs the Violence Prevention Research Program at UC Davis. He wasn’t surprised that the largest increase in access to firearms in history happened alongside a parallel surge in violence.

“It can be difficult or impossible statistically to sort out the contributions that any one of these [phenomena] made” to the rise in violence . . . But the bottom line is, if the prior research holds up and increases in access are associated with increases in violence, we’re in for a very rough time ahead.” ~Dr. Garen Wintemute

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member face firearm offenses or any other crimes. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Car Crash Deaths Have Surged During COVID-19 Pandemic.

Traveling during the winter holiday? Limit your COVID-19 risk with this scientific guide.

Excellent article in the Los Angeles Times by reporters Emily Baumgaertner and Russ Mitchell discussed a tally that shocked experts. In short, there were 38,680 deaths on U.S. roadways last year, the most since 2007. The increase in accidents happened even though pandemic precautions had dramatically reduced driving.

Experts say this driving behavior is likely a reflection of widespread feelings of isolation, loneliness and depression. The rise in motor vehicle deaths also lines up with other pandemic-era trends. Alcohol sales have soared, drug overdoses have set new records, and homicides have seen their biggest increase on record.

According to the article, before the pandemic, safety on U.S. roadways had been improving for decades. Even as the number of people on the roads increased and many states raised their speed limits, annual fatalities fell from around 55,000 in 1970 to 36,096 in 2019. Then came the 7.2% rise in 2020, followed by an 18% jump in the first six months of this year, based on preliminary figures from the federal government.

According to the article, for every 100 million miles driven last year, 1.37 people died. This is an increase of 23% rise from 2019. There’s also an increase in deadly accidents involving speeding, illegal substances or a failure to wear a seat belt.

Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Assn., chimed in on the subject. He suggested that people’s disregard for themselves and others on the road is part of a national decline in civility that accelerated during the pandemic.

“Anecdotally, we hear from governors’ offices around the country that it’s a symptom and a sign of the overall lack of consideration we’re showing for other citizens, whether it be wearing masks, or not getting vaccinated, or how we drive . . . It’s very aggressive. It’s very selfish.” ~Jonathan Adkins, Executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Assn.

In California, which saw a 5% increase in fatalities last year, Highway Patrol officers issued nearly 28,500 tickets for speeds over 100 mph, almost double the 2019 total. They arrested 232 people for reckless driving — a 150% rise — and are on pace to exceed that this year.

Research based on crash investigations has shown that even a slight speed increase — say, from 50 mph to 56 mph — is enough to increase a driver’s risk of death. Since the start of the pandemic, a larger share of accident victims — including those who survived — have been ejected from their vehicles, typically because they were not wearing seat belts.

The increase in ejections was seen just as lockdowns began last year. Men have accounted for a disproportionate share. Making the roads even more dangerous is rising drug and alcohol use. In one survey, over 7% of adults said they were more likely to drive while impaired than they were before the pandemic.

Federal researchers who looked at accidents in which drivers were killed or seriously injured found that the proportion who tested positive for opioids nearly doubled after the pandemic began. Marijuana use also rose considerably.

Finally, more drivers are distracted. Researchers used GPS and other data to determine that drivers used their phones more frequently after the pandemic began, and that the problem only worsened over time.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a driving crime. Reckless Driving, Reckless Endangerment, Eluding and DUI are typical examples of crimes involving motor vehicles. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Racial Disparities & Traffic Stops

Black and Latino drivers are searched based on less evidence and are more  likely to be arrested, Stanford researchers find - Los Angeles Times

Excellent article by Nick Bowman of MyNorthwest.com reports on a new study regarding racial disparities in traffic stops. Apparently, the study provides five years of data on traffic stops made by Washington State Patrol. Ultimately, it gives mixed results.

According to Bowman, the study comes courtesy of researchers at Washington State University. It analyzed over 3.4 million traffic stops, 47,000 calls for service, and 175,000 collisions between January of 2015 and December of 2019.

While it says that it found “no evidence for intentional, agency-level racial bias,” it also showed some disparities in racial demographics most likely to be pulled over, cited, and searched. Over the five-year period it pulled data from, 5.7% of all traffic stops involved a Black driver, despite that demographic making up roughly 4.4% of the state’s population.

The highest rate of racial disparities involving Black drivers was seen in Pierce County, comprising 12.7% of traffic stops despite making up 7.7% of the county’s population. That was followed by King County, where Black motorists — comprising 7% of the county’s population — made up 11.5% of traffic stops.

White drivers made up 74.4% of traffic stops statewide, while comprising 78.5% of Washington’s population. Native American, Asian, Pacific Islander, and Hispanic drivers were stopped by troopers at lower rates compared to their population.

Disproportionate practices were seen among the racial groups most likely to be searched. While Native American, Hispanic, and Black drivers were more likely to be searched than white drivers, so-called “hit rates” — the rate at which searches turned up contraband — were lower among the former group compared to searches of the latter.

“Particularly for Black and Hispanic motorists, searches were less productive (10% difference in contraband found) which may indicate that probable cause standards are lower for searches of these groups,” the study notes.

In terms of traffic citations, “white motorists received the most, but their overall proportion of total citations fell over the five-year period.” Native American and Black drivers were found to be less likely to be cited compared to white drivers, while Asian/Pacific Island and Hispanic drivers were more likely to be cited.

Please review my Search and Seizure Legal Guide. And please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with DUI or any other driving-related crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.