Category Archives: Bellingham Defense Attorney

Study: Daily Marijuana Use Outpaces Drinking

Marijuana vs. Alcohol | Is Marijuana Safer Than Alcohol?

Fortune.com reports that millions of people in the U.S. use marijuana daily or nearly every day. This information comes via analysis of national survey data. Also, marijuana users now outnumber alcohol drinkers.

Alcohol is still more widely used, but 2022 was the first time this intensive level of marijuana use overtook daily and near-daily drinking, said the study’s author, Jonathan Caulkins, a cannabis policy researcher at Carnegie Mellon University.

“A good 40% of current cannabis users are using it daily or near daily, a pattern that is more associated with tobacco use than typical alcohol use,” ~Jonathan Caulkins.

THE RESEARCH DATA

The research, based on data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, was published Wednesday in the journal Addiction. The survey is a highly regarded source of self-reported estimates of tobacco, alcohol and drug use in the United States.

In 2022, an estimated 17.7 million people reported using marijuana daily or near-daily compared to 14.7 million daily or near-daily drinkers, according to the study. From 1992 to 2022, the per capita rate of reporting daily or near-daily marijuana use increased 15-fold. Caulkins acknowledged in the study that people may be more willing to report marijuana use as public acceptance grows, which could boost the increase.

Most states now allow medical or recreational marijuana, though it remains illegal at the federal level. In November, Florida voters will decide on a constitutional amendment allowing recreational cannabis, and the federal government is moving to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug.

Research shows that high-frequency users are more likely to become addicted to marijuana, said Dr. David A. Gorelick, a psychiatry professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study.

EXCESSIVE DRUG AND ALCOHOL USE LEADS TO CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR

My opinion? The correlation between substance abuse and violent behavior has been well documented. Studies show that more than 26% of respondents who reported using alcohol, cannabis, and cocaine in a 12-month period, also reported committing a violent crime within the same time frame.

Some individuals use aggressive techniques to steal money to buy more drugs; others may be involved in the drug-trafficking, which often leads to violent crimes. For others, violence is a long-term side effect of the substance they abuse. Studies reveal individuals addicted to methamphetamine, for instance, may suffer from anxiety, confusion, insomnia, mood disorders, and aggressive or violent behavior.

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.

Investigation Into How U.S. Prisoners Are Hurt Or Killed On The Job

Chain Gang Cuisine: The Bitter Taste of Prison Labor in Your Pantry

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/amendment-t-prohibits-prison-labor-and-court-ordered_b_580a6fd4e4b0b1bd89fdb20b

Journalists Margie Mason and Robin McDowell reported on a large-scale investigation into prison labor. In short, prisoners who are hurt or killed on the job are often being denied the rights and protections offered to other American workers. Their article discussed an  AP investigation into what has become a multibillion-dollar industry that often operates with little oversight.

“These prisoners are being placed in dangerous jobs, sometimes with little or no training. They pick up trash along busy highways, fight wildfires, and operate heavy machinery. They work on industrial-sized farms and meat-processing plants tied to the supply chains of some of the world’s most iconic brands and companies. But incarcerated workers and their families often have little or no recourse when things go wrong.” ~Journalists Margie Mason and Robin McDowell, Associated Press

Here are takeaways from the latest installment of AP’s investigation:

PRISONERS ARE AMONG THE MOST VULNERABLE U.S. WORKERS

Under the law, prisoners aren’t classified as employees. As a result, businesses can exclude them from workers’ compensation benefits, along with state and federal workplace safety standards. They cannot protest against poor conditions. They cannot form unions or strike. Some also can be punished for refusing to work, including being sent to solitary confinement. Finally, many work for pennies an hour – or nothing at all.

DANGEROUS JOBS, LITTLE OR NO TRAINING

Prisoners work in poultry plants, sawmills and in industrial factories. In many states, laws mandate that they be deployed during disasters and emergencies for dangerous jobs like hazardous material cleanup. They’re also sent to fight fires. Unfortunately, prisoners who are injured on the job and decide to sue can face nearly insurmountable hurdles. These challenges include finding a lawyer willing to take the case.

IT’S ALL LEGAL

A loophole in the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution passed after the Civil War makes forced labor legal, abolishing slavery except “as punishment for a crime.” Today, nearly 2 million people are locked up in the U.S. Our prison population is the largest in the world. Interestingly, more than 800,000 prisoners have some kind of job. Many serve food inside facilities. Others work outside for private companies, including work-release assignments. They’re also employed at state and municipal agencies, and at colleges and nonprofit organizations.

My opinion? The findings are gut-wrenching. They point to a complex web of labor where prisoners in the United States are exploited for their work. These individuals, often paid mere pennies or nothing at all, toil under conditions devoid of basic human rights protections, contributing to the profits of some of the largest food corporations in the world.

Prison is a terrible place. 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.

You Can’t Transport Marijuana On a Plane, Even Within States Where Pot is Legal

Illustration courtesy of Gene Kim

In Fejes v. FAA, No. 22-70129 (April 22, 2024), the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals held that people cannot transport marijuana by airplane even when travelling solely within states where cannabis is decriminalized.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Mr. Fejes transported marijuana—which is legal under Alaska law, but a controlled substance under federal law—by aircraft within Alaska. In some remote parts of Alaska, aircraft are the only mode of delivering goods, including marijuana. Fejes held a pilot certificate issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). At least three times, Fejes piloted an aircraft to transport and distribute marijuana to retail stores within the state.

After an investigation, the FAA revoked his pilot certificate under the authority that distributing marijuana via aircraft is a federal crime. Fejes appealed the order revoking his pilot’s certificate through numerous agency proceedings. In those proceedings, Fejes admitted that he piloted an aircraft to distribute marijuana within Alaska. However, he argued that his conduct fell outside of reach of federal laws revoking pilot’s licenses for controlled substance violations. Fejes now appealed his information to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

COURT’S ANALYSIS & CONCLUSIONS

The 9th Circuit rejected Feyes’ argument that the FAA lacks jurisdiction to revoke his pilot certificate. It reasoned that under the Commerce Clause, airplanes are instrumentalities of interstate commerce. As such, airspace is a channel of commerce within congressional authority.

“We have held that cars are instrumentalities of interstate commerce. United States v. Oliver, 60 F.3d 547, 550 (9th Cir. 1995). Even if an airplane, like a car, is mainly used for intrastate activities, its operations could substantially impact interstate commerce. Thus, Fejes’s conduct falls within the second category as well.”  ~9th Circuit Court of Appeals

The 9th Circuit further reasoned that although many states have legalized recreational marijuana, it continues to be a controlled substance federally.

“The public may believe that a state’s legalization of marijuana broadly protects marijuana use. But state law legalizing marijuana distribution does not negate federal law criminalizing the same action . . . And marijuana is still illegal in many contexts under federal law, even in states that provide legal allowances.” ~9th Circuit Court of Appeals

With that, the 9th Circuit upheld the revocation of Mr. Feyes’s pilot’s license.

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

Road Rage Shootings Have Surged

Jennifer Mascia on X: "Over the last decade the number of people shot in road rage incidents surged 450% @ByChipBrownlee and I report for @teamtrace: https://t.co/w5CapDp4ZN https://t.co/faBCQjqhU1" / X

Journalists Jennifer Mascia and Chip Brownlee report in The Trace that Road Rage shooting incidents have skyrocketed over the past decade. A new analysis finds an increase of incidents from 83 nationally in 2014 to 456 in 2023 — a nearly 450% jump.

The findings, from an analysis of Gun Violence Archive (GVA) data by gun violence newsroom The Trace, mirror a broader increase in gun-related violence. All told, angry drivers shot 3,095 people over that decade, or nearly one every day. One in four of those people — 777 — were killed.

Caveat: The GVA is a private non-profit that produces a range of gun violence estimates based on police reports, government data, news stories and more.

Law enforcement agencies do not release statistics on road rage shootings as a specific category of crime. But GVA tracks incidents in which someone in a car fires at a driver or passenger in another vehicle or brandishes a gun in a threatening manner. The close of 2023 marked the collection of 10 full years of data, and although not all gun-related road rage incidents make the news or are reported to police, GVA provides the most comprehensive picture of gun violence on the nation’s roads and highways.

Since 2014, gun-involved road rage incidents have more than doubled, and the number of victims killed or injured has increased more than fivefold, the data shows. When we looked specifically at shootings — incidents in which either a victim or suspect was shot — the increase is even more consistent. The number of road rage shootings tracked by GVA increased by an average of 23 percent each year over the past decade.

Road rage shootings are on the rise across the United States as drivers increasingly turn to firearms to vent their frustrations — with often tragic consequences.

Between 2014 and 2023, the number of people shot in road rage incidents surged more than 400 percent, from 92 to 481, according to a Trace analysis of data from the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive. All told, angry drivers shot 3,095 people over that decade, or nearly one every day. One in four of those people — 777 — were killed.

Law enforcement agencies do not release statistics on road rage shootings as a specific category of crime. But GVA tracks incidents in which someone in a car fires at a driver or passenger in another vehicle or brandishes a gun in a threatening manner. The close of 2023 marked the collection of 10 full years of data, and although not all gun-related road rage incidents make the news or are reported to police, GVA provides the most comprehensive picture of gun violence on the nation’s roads and highways.

Since 2014, gun-involved road rage incidents have more than doubled, and the number of victims killed or injured has increased more than fivefold, the data shows. When we looked specifically at shootings — incidents in which either a victim or suspect was shot — the increase is even more consistent. The number of road rage shootings tracked by GVA increased by an average of 23 percent each year over the past decade.

Someone was shot in a road rage incident on average every 18 hours in 2023, up from once every four days in 2014.

These shootings are happening in almost every corner of the country. Many are prompted by collisions or motorists cutting each other off in traffic, while the motivations for others aren’t always clear.

My opinion? Clearly, the number of guns in circulation continues growing as many states relax their gun control laws.  It’s possible that road rage incidents that otherwise would’ve been an exchange of middle fingers turn into shootouts. However, it’s also possible that self-defense could justify these actions.

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

Feds Moving to Re-Classify Marijuana

DEA moving to reclassify marijuana – WKRN News 2

Excellent reporting by journalist Ellen Dennis in the The Spokesman Review discusses the U.S. government’s efforts to reclassifying marijuana as a less harmful drug.

The U.S. Attorney General circulated a proposal to reclassify marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III drug. If finalized, this change in classification by the U.S. Department of Justice would federally recognize the medical use of cannabis. It would also ease banking regulations, thus making it far more manageable for pot shops to do business.

What Do the Drug Schedule Levels Mean?

Schedule I substances are defined by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Right now, marijuana is a Schedule I Drug. It lists alongside heroin, peyote, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy), methaqualone.

Schedule II drugs are defined by the government as dangerous drugs with a high potential for abuse. Examples of Schedule II drugs include fentanyl, oxycodone (Oxycontin), methamphetamine, Adderall and Ritalin. Schedule III substances are defined as drugs with a moderate-to-low potential for physical and psychological dependence. Examples of Schedule III drugs include ketamine, anabolic steroids and testosterone.

What Would Rescheduling Do?

According to the article, rescheduling the drug would be a huge positive for people who work in the weed industry. It would open up federal funding, government loans and access to government emergency relief funds. Rescheduling would also help break down stigma surrounding cannabis.

That’s helped fuel fast growth in the marijuana industry, with an estimated worth of nearly $30 billion. Easing federal regulations could reduce the tax burden that can be 70% or more for businesses, according to industry groups. It could also make it easier to research marijuana, since it’s very difficult to conduct authorized clinical studies on Schedule I substances.

The Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation Banking Act is a proposed federal law that would ensure that all businesses – including state-sanctioned weed stores – have access to deposit accounts, insurance and other financial services.

Currently, Pot Shops in Washington by law may only take payments in cash form, leaving them vulnerable to armed robberies. Some store owners across the state have done their best to keep the environments safe for workers, including installing panic buttons behind the counters and ramping up security systems, but the best way to bolster safety would be to allow cannabis sellers to accept debit and credit card payments, industry players say.

It is possible that rescheduling could allow the cannabis industry to claim business deductions on federal tax forms, since the Internal Revenue Service doesn’t allow that for any business that sells a Schedule I controlled substance.

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

WA Supreme Court Reverses Kitsap County DUI Case Decision Challenging Breathalyzers

Illustration of rewind button on courtroom by Barbara Kelley

Recently, the Washington State Supreme Court decided State v. Keller. The Court’s decision reversed a 2022 Kitsap County District Court decision that ruled breathalyzers inadmissible in court. This high-profile case is discussed in a prior blog post due to its potential to affect on hundreds of DUI cases in Washington State.

In 2022, the Kitsap County District Court ruled breathalyzers inadmissible in court after it said it found state regulations surrounding the machine used by the Washington State Patrol were not followed.

The decision was a result of a case where in 2020 a Washington state man crashed his vehicle and failed a breath alcohol test. The man challenged the admission of the results and argued state regulations had not been followed.

The breath test machine, the Dräger Alcotest 9510, was approved by the Washington State Patrol toxicologist in 2010 and has been in common use since 2015.

The Drager machine determines someone’s blood alcohol level by calculating the average of four samples. Under state law, the calculations are rounded to four decimal places, however, the machine truncates rather than rounds to four decimal points.

The court agreed with the man’s arguments that regulations had not been followed and excluded the test results. The court ruled that statutes and regulations require the breathalyzer machine to perform the calculations itself.

Furthermore, court documents said the toxicologist knew about the calculation error and didn’t disclose the information until 2021.

The Kitsap case bypassed the typical appellate process and went straight to the state Supreme Court because of the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the case. The case could have had major implications for thousands of DUI cases due to law enforcement agencies statewide using the breathalyzer machine at the center of the case.

In the decision to hear the case, the Supreme Court Commissioner said, “This decision has the potential to affect a great number of Washington prosecutions for driving under the influence; this case involves significant public interest questions.”

THE COURT’S ANALYSIS AND CONCLUSIONS

In its decision, the Supreme Court said current statutes and regulations don’t require the breathalyzer machine to calculate the average of the tests itself at the time of the test for it to be admissible in court. The Court said no source of law requires the calculation required by former WAC 448-16-060 to be performed by the breath test instrument. Also, the breath test results can be calculated in a different manner, as long as the different manners meet all other rules on admission of evidence in a criminal trial. Finally, the State can lay foundation for admitting the breath test by performing the required calculation at a later time.

With that, the Court reversed the district court’s evidentiary rulings and suppression order.

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

Washington State’s High-Capacity Magazine Ban Will Remain In Effect For Now

Ban on high-capacity gun magazines very popular with Washingtonians, NPI poll finds - NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Visualization of NPI’s poll finding on Senate Bill 5078

Last week, a state Supreme Court commissioner ordered that Washington state’s high-capacity magazine ban will remain in effect. This decision comes while a legal challenge against the new law remains pending in the courts.

Washington’s law banning high-capacity magazines has been the subject of several legal actions in recent weeks.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The high-capacity magazine ban was first overturned by a Cowlitz County Judge Gary Bashor. Earlier this month, he ruled the state’s ban on high-capacity magazines unconstitutional in a lawsuit between Washington State and Gators Customs Guns, a firearms dealer in Kelso.

Judge Bashor’s ruling imposed an injunction on the law for a short time. This meant the ban was effectively overturned in the state of Washington. Immediately after Judge Bashor’s ruling, firearms retailers around the state resumed the sale of high-capacity magazines.

Within 90 minutes, Supreme Court Commissioner Michael E. Johnston granted the Washington State Attorney General’s Office a temporary stay on that injunction. This ruling effectively put the high-capacity magazine ban back into effect. So far, the decision kept the stay in place. It will remain so while the legal challenges against the high-capacity magazine ban are being decided.

Commissioner Johnston ruled that those in opposition of the law “failed to persuasively show” that the ban should be overturned while the ultimate legality of the law is decided. The commissioner also considered the potential harms that could come from lifting the stay and allowing the magazines to be sold in the meantime.

WASHINGTON’S BAN ON HIGH-CAPACITY MAGAZINES

Washington’s ban on high-capacity magazines first went into effect on July 1, 2022. The ban prohibits the sale of gun magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds, along with the manufacturing, distribution or import of high-capacity magazines in Washington state.

The bill does not criminalize the possession of high-capacity magazines but instead focuses on the suppliers. Violating the law could result in a gross misdemeanor.

In September of 2023, the Washington AG’s office filed a lawsuit against Gator’s Custom Guns for continuing to sell high-capacity magazines. In response, the gun store owner challenged the law in court.

Other lawsuits have been filed regarding this legislation. In December 2022, Ferguson also filed a lawsuit against a gun store in Federal Way for selling high-capacity magazines after the ban went into effect months before. As a result, the store was ordered to pay $3 million for the illegal sale.

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

Washington State Ranked Among Top 10 Most Dangerous

Washington named eighth most dangerous state in 2024 study - Lynnwood Times

SOURCEThe Safest and Most Dangerous States in America 2024 – Simmrin Law Group

Apparently, crime rates in Washington State have been increasing. This comes despite the overall decrease in violent crime in the country.

THE SIMMRIN LAW GROUP STUDY

A new study by the Simmrin Law Group analyzed crime data from the FBI and NIFRS to rank the safest and most dangerous states in the country.  Apparently, between 2020 and 2022, the rate of violent crime in the U.S. decreased from 398.5 incidents per 100,000 people to 380.7 incidents per 100,000 people, while the rate of violent crime in Washington has increased from 293.7 incidents to 375.6 incidents, an 81.9 rate increase. The study examined the frequency of various types of offenses, including assault, homicide, kidnapping, sex offenses, burglary, destruction/vandalism, theft, and robbery.

HOW DANGEROUS IS WASHINGTON STATE?

Although Washington is known for its picturesque natural beauty and for being a booming tech hub, the rise in crime hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Washington ranked eighth, with the highest larceny and theft rate and kidnapping and abduction rate. According to the study, the state has a larceny/theft rate of 2133.6 per 100,000 residents. In 2022, there were 1,327 kidnapping/abduction incidents and 1,454 offenses reported in Washington.

“Washington state, known for its tech industry and natural beauty, surprisingly contrasts with its efforts to become a safer place. The state sadly has a larceny/theft rate of 2133.6 per 100,000, among the highest on this list, indicating the need for continued focus on crime prevention.”

“Its Kidnapping/Abduction Rate of 16.3 per 100,000 indicates another area in much need of targeted interventions. These statistics underscore the importance of community-based safety programs and proactive law enforcement measures, which Washington cannot ignore any longer if they want to keep their good reputation.” ~Simrin Law Group Study

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.

During COVID-19, Prison Inmates Died at 3.5 Times The Rate of the Free Population

COVID-19: Authorities must protect health of detainees, staff and ultimately surrounding communities

Photo courtesy of the International Committee of the Red Cross

According to the Marshall Project, during the COVID-19 Pandemic, people in prison died at 3.4 times the rate of the free population. The elderly were hit the hardest. A national study gives the details.

THE STUDY

Over 6,000 incarcerated people died in the first year of the pandemic, researchers found. This data numbers they collected from state prison systems and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. the overall prison mortality rate spiked at least 50%, and potentially exceeded 75%, with roughly 50 or more people dying per 10,000 in prison in 2020.

The virus hit older generations especially hard, the study’s data shows. Not all states shared counts by age. But in the eight states that did, death rates for people aged 50 and older rose far higher than for others. The data reaffirms how much more vulnerable older prisoners are to the virus.

At the same time, incarceration rates dropped during the first year of the pandemic, but not because an extraordinary number of people were released. Despite a range of advocates calling for releases — particularly for older adults, who have higher health risks and statistically lower chances of committing a crime — data shows fewer people than in a typical year were let out in 2020. Instead, there was a dramatic reduction in prison admissions.

The slowdown in admissions meant that prison systems reduced the number of younger people exposed to COVID, while the older people already inside were left there. That’s because incarcerated people are generally older than those likely to be sent to prison.

By the end of 2020, Bureau of Justice Statistics data shows the number of people in state prisons under 55 fell by 17%, while the 55 and older population was down by 6%.

Prison deaths spiked almost everywhere across the country, varying in magnitude from state to state.

WERE THE WIDESPREAD DEATHS IN PRISONS PREVENTABLE?

According to the Machall Project, states and the federal government have legal tools to release at least some people, but rarely used them during the most urgent phase of the pandemic. In most states, only the governor and parole board can release people from prison without a court order.

Most state constitutions allow for governors to issue a pause in a criminal sentence known as a reprieve. Historically, governors use this power even less often than commutations, which lets them shorten sentences and free people without post-release supervision or expectation that they return. No state governors used either power for large-scale releases during the COVID-19 emergency, and only a small number performed any at all.

In a minority of states, corrections officials have some limited authority to release prisoners — usually due to terminal illness, or total physical or cognitive disability — or to seek certain kinds of inpatient medical care, according to data collected by the sentencing reform advocacy group Families Against Mandatory Minimums. These policies are not designed to release people based on risk of future illness, however.

“With more than half a million infections behind bars and over 3,000 deaths, America’s response to COVID-19 in prisons and jails was a failure. Federal, state, and local governments ignored public health guidance, refused to implement even the most basic mitigation strategies, and failed to reduce their incarcerated populations to the level necessary to avoid these catastrophes.” ~Prison Policy Initiative

Prison is a terrible place. 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.

U.S. Supreme Court Tackles Homelessness

Supreme Court will hear Grants Pass homeless camping case • Washington  State Standard

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide an important case in decades concerning the rights of people experiencing homelessness.

In Grants Pass v. Johnsonthe Court addresses whether it constitutes cruel and unusual punishment to fine, ticket, or jail someone for sleeping outside on public property if they have nowhere else to go. A ruling in favor of the plaintiffs would make it easier for communities to clear out homeless people’s tent encampments, even if no available housing or shelter exists. The court is expected to decide the case by the end of June.

GRANTS PASS V. JOHNSON

The case comes from the rural Oregon town of Grants Pass, which started fining people $295 for sleeping outside to manage homeless encampments that sprung up in the city’s public parks as the cost of housing escalated.

The measure was largely struck down by the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The 9th Circuit also found in 2018 that such bans violated the Eighth Amendment by punishing people for something they don’t have control over. The 9th Circuit oversees nine Western states, including California, which is home to about one-third of the nation’s homeless population.

FEDERAL DATA ON THE HOMELESS

The case comes after homelessness in the United States grew a dramatic 12%, to its highest reported level as soaring rents and a decline in coronavirus pandemic assistance combined to put housing out of reach for more Americans, according to federal data.

Over 650,000 people in America experience homelessness on any given night. Roughly 40 percent of those individuals are sleeping outside on the streets, in cars, parks, train stations, and other settings not designed primarily for human residence. Federal data published in late 2023 shows a rise in homelessness in most states.

THE CONSEQUENCES OF CRIMINALIZING HOMELESSNESS

  • The more interactions a homeless person has with the police, the more likely they are to be criminalized.
  • Concerns about criminalizing homeless people with mental and behavioral health needs came up in several amici briefs filed to the Supreme Court. More than one-fifth of people experiencing homelessness currently have a serious mental illness like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
  • The American Psychiatric Association noted that police are also more likely to use excessive force when they interact with unhoused people with mental illness.
  • Fining, ticketing, or arresting unhoused people — which local governments will be more easily able to do if Grants Pass is overturned — will make it harder for homeless people, who already cannot afford shelter, to obtain permanent housing later on.
  • Having a criminal record can make it more difficult to land a job, stable housing, and receive government benefits. Even among those who do find jobs, employees with records generally face significant earning penalties.
  • Owing fines can exacerbate an unhoused person’s already precarious financial situation and prolong their homelessness. One study of people experiencing homelessness in Seattle found those with outstanding legal debt spent roughly two more years without stable housing than those without such debt.

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.