Category Archives: felony

Drug Overdose Deaths Hit Highest Level On Record

U.S. drug overdose deaths hit record 107,000 last year

According to provisional data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdoses in the United States were deadlier than ever in 2021.

Nearly 108,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2021, and about two-thirds of those deaths involved fentanyl or another synthetic opioid. Overdose deaths have been on the rise for years in the US, but surged amid the Covid-19 Pandemic. Annual deaths were nearly 50% higher in 2021 than in 2019, CDC data shows.

The spike in overdose deaths in the second year of the pandemic wasn’t as quite as dramatic as in the first year: Overdose deaths were up about 15% between 2020 and 2021, compared with a 30% jump between 2019 and 2020. But the change is still stark. In 2021, about 14,000 more people died of overdose deaths in than in 2020, the CDC data shows.

“This is indeed a continuation of an awful trend. Rates of overdose deaths have been on an upward climb for decades now, increasing at unprecedented rates right before the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in the U.S.” ~Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The pandemic accelerated trends that were already heading in the wrong direction, and experts say that reversing course will require concentrated efforts — and it will take time, both strategically and ideologically.

Treatment for drug abuse was lacking even before the pandemic. In 2019, more than 20 million people ages 12 and older reported having a substance abuse disorder, only 10% of whom reported receiving care, according to a report from the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

And a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation cites evidence that access and utilization of these services has gotten even worse during the pandemic.

The illicit drug supply in the US has also seen a “massive shift” over the past two decades. Increasing use of synthetic drugs caught the attention of experts before Covid-19 hit, but the pandemic may have exacerbated the problem. With international travel limited, synthetics that are easier to manufacture and more concentrated were likely more efficient to smuggle across borders, Volkow said.

Overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, psychostimulants such as methamphetamine, and cocaine all increased between 2020 and 2021, according to the new CDC data. Deaths involving natural or semi-synthetic drugs, such as prescription drugs, fell slightly from the year prior.

My opinion? This is a devastating milestone in the history of the overdose epidemic in America. When we report numbers, we must remember that each number represents an individual, their families, and their communities. Compounding the issue is the fact that the WA Supreme Court struck down Washington felony drug possession law. In the wake of the Blake decision on February 25, people can no longer be arrested for simple drug possession in Washington state.

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.

Prosecutor’s “Gorilla Pimp” Comment Admonished by High Court

Gorilla Pimp the skunk ape by seraphonfire on DeviantArt

In State v. McKenzie, the WA Court of Appeals reversed the defendant’s convictions because the prosecutor improperly injected race into the trial and used the term “gorilla pimp” to describe the defendant.

BACKGROUND FACTS

In 2018, the defendant Mr. McKenzie, a 27-year-old Black man, was perusing the dating application Skout when he came across the profile for a white female named “‘Samantha.’”  Samantha’s profile listed her age as 18, and stated “‘Fun Times. My age is wrong. Daddy wanted.’” Samantha was actually a fictional person created by Detective Rodriguez of the Washington State Patrol’s missing and exploited children’s task force. They conduct undercover investigations to find sexual predators in part by using fictional profiles on social media and dating websites. The profile picture Mr. McKenzie viewed was that of an undercover female officer who was at least 22 years old.

The two continued to chat on Skout and then moved to text messaging on their
phones. During the text messaging, Samantha asked Mr. McKenzie if he was interested in being her pimp to which he replied, “Oh nah im not doing all that,” “Thats low. I dont need that & dont have time for all that. If you have a way to get money I support that,” and “But pimping? No thanks missed me with that one.”

Samantha made repeated suggestions that she and Mr. McKenzie meet up. The two discussed where to meet and Mr. McKenzie expressed concern that Samantha was “setting him up.” Later Mr. McKenzie asked Samantha about whether she had condoms. Mr. McKenzie drove from Seattle to Puyallup and waited for Samantha at an agreed meet location for just under 30 minutes. Unbeknownst to Mr. McKenzie, he was under surveillance the entire time he waited. After Mr. McKenzie messaged Samantha that he was giving up and leaving, law enforcement surrounded Mr. McKenzie’s car and placed him under arrest. A search of Mr. McKenzie’s car revealed a box of condoms on the passenger seat.

The State charged Mr. McKenzie with sex offenses to include one count of attempted second degree rape of a child and one count of communication with a minor for immoral purposes. Mr. McKenzie exercised his right to a jury trial.

At trial, Detective Rodriguez took the witness stand. The prosecutor initiated the following
exchange:

Q: Are you familiar with the terms gorilla pimp and romance pimp?
A: Yes.
Q: What are those?
A: A gorilla pimp is someone who is very aggressive. They’re very direct. They’re going to tell you what they want. “This is what you’re going to do.” I’ve had them try to get me or the people they’re victimizing to pay them for that. For them to be sexually exploited, they actually want the victim to pay them for it. As far as a romance pimp, they’re going to come across as your boyfriend or your friend. They’re going to romance you, get you into the situation where then they have control. They can continue to play the romance role or they can switch to a more aggressive pimp or they can go back and forth.
Q: So they’re not mutually exclusive?
A: No.
Q: The romance pimp angle can be used to gain confidence with a young person. And then once you’re engaged with them, the roles can change?
[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: Your Honor, leading.
THE COURT: Sustained.
Q: Can the roles change once they’re engaged?
A: Yes.
Q: Do Mr. McKenzie’s answers about, “I’m not into that. I would treat you right,” all of those kind of things, do they negate the possibility that he is looking to put Sam out?
A: No.

The defense never voiced a specific objection to the gorilla pimp concept. The prosecutor made no further reference to it. A jury found Mr. McKenzie guilty as charged. The court subsequently imposed a standard range sentence of 76.5 months to life in prison. Mr. McKenzie appealed on arguments that the prosecutor engaged in misconduct by injecting the racially charged term “gorilla pimp” into the trial.

COURT’S ANALYSIS & CONCLUSIONS

The WA Court of Appeals reversed the Defendant’s conviction. It reasoned that use of the term “gorilla pimp” by the State was not harmless error beyond a reasonable doubt. The court said that when a prosecutor improperly injects race into a criminal trial, a court will generally reverse the conviction.

“Racist rhetoric has no place in our justice system. It is hurtful, thwarts due process, and undermines the rule of law. ~WA Court of Appeals

The Court discussed the State’s argument that the term used was actually “guerrilla pimp.” However, that argument was unpersuasive to the court, which found the analogy of a “gorilla” to be particularly concerning:

“At this point in our history we should not have to belabor the point that using a gorilla analogy when discussing human behavior, specifically the behavior of a Black man, is clearly racist rhetoric,” said the Court of Appeals. It reasoned that individuals involved in criminal enterprises use racialized language that is sometimes offensive. However, that is no excuse for outsiders to do the same.

“The only purpose served by referencing the gorilla pimp concept was to tap into deepseated racial prejudice by comparing Black human beings to primates. The State cannot prove that this racist rhetoric was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. We therefore reverse Mr. McKenzie’s conviction.” ~WA Court of Appeals

My opinion? Great decision. The type of racist rhetoric invoked by the Prosecution appears to have especially strong pull. A six-year study of undergraduates at Stanford University and Pennsylvania State University showed young people are swayed by Black-ape associations, even when they claim to know nothing about the historical context of racist simianization. According to this study, undergraduates who were exposed to words associated with apes were more likely to condone the beating of those in police custody when they thought the suspect was Black.

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

Confrontation, Video Testimony & COVID

Legal Videography - Compass Reporting | Litigation Support Concierge

In State v. Milko, the WA Court of Appeals held that a defendant has a right to have witnesses present in the courtroom. However, that right can be overcome. Here, the trial court lawfully allowed witnesses to testify by video when they had health related concerns about contracting COVID-19.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

In 2018, Milko on five separate occasions contacted women who were paid escorts. He
arranged to meet them at houses in Puyallup that he did not live in or own. When each
woman arrived, Milko displayed a knife in an attempt to take their money or to rape them.

The State charged Milko with 12 felony offenses related to five incidents and five
victims. The charges included Burglary, Robbery and Sex Offenses.

Milko’s trial was set for July 2020. At the time, COVID-19 had been declared a global pandemic and a national emergency in the United States. In February 2020, Governor Jay Inslee had proclaimed a state of emergency in Washington. He issued a number of proclamations designed to help curb the spread of COVID-19. The Supreme Court ordered all courts to follow the most protective public health guidance applicable in their jurisdiction and to use remote proceedings for public health and safety whenever appropriate.

Also, the CDC and the Washington Department of Health recommended social distancing measures of at least six feet between people and encouraged vulnerable individuals to avoid public spaces. The CDC encouraged people to avoid traveling because travel increased a person’s chance of getting infected and spreading COVID-19. The CDC noted that older adults and people of any age with serious underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes and asthma, were at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

The trial court granted the State’s request to allow two State’s witnesses to testify remotely. One witness was SANE nurse Ms. Biddulph. The other witness was victim JA.

At trial, the five victims and several investigating officers testified in person about the
incidents giving rise to the charges. Biddulph testified by two-way video about examining BP and completing a rape kit for her. JA testified by two-way video about Milko contacting her for her paid escort services in Florida and raping her at knifepoint. The trial court instructed the jury that the State was offering JA’s testimony only to establish identity, a common scheme or plan, and/or modus operandi.

The jury found Milko guilty of all charges except for attempted first degree robbery. He appealed on arguments that the trial court violated the confrontation clause by allowing witnesses to testify by video because of COVID-19 concerns.

COURT’S ANALYSIS & CONCLUSIONS

The WA Court of Appeals (COA) explained that the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that a person accused of a crime has the right “to be confronted with the witnesses against him.” Nevertheless, the COA quoted  Maryland v. Craig, and other cases holding that video testimony does not violate the confrontation clause if it ensures the reliability of the evidence by subjecting it to rigorous adversarial testing and thereby preserves the essence of effective confrontation.

Here, the COA upheld the trial court’s findings that Biddulph’s traveling to Washington would place her and her children at risk of negative health consequences regarding COVID-19 were warranted. Biddulph in particular had health concerns about her one year-old daughter, who had compromised health. And the court made a finding that Biddulph’s health care provider “advised against travel in order to protect the health of Ms. Biddulph and her small child.” The court’s ultimate finding was that Biddulph could not travel to Washington to testify because travel will place her at a significantly higher risk of exposure to the virus.

“Accommodating Biddulph’s health concerns was more than a matter of convenience,” said the COA. In addition, it reasoned that concern for the health of a third person may be sufficient to support a finding of necessity. “This is especially true in a pandemic. Given the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the risk to the health of Biddulph and her child if Biddulph was required to travel to Washington was significant and more than de minimis.”

The COA also found that the trial court found that JA’s health concerns due to her diabetes and asthma were warranted. These conditions would “place her at a higher risk of suffering severe health consequences if she were to contract COVID 19.”  Further, the COA upheld the trial court’s findings that JA’s conditions “make it difficult, if not impossible, to wear a face mask for an extended period of time, including on a cross-country flight.” The court’s ultimate finding was that “J.A.’s health is currently compromised, and she is at a higher risk of serious medical complications should she contract COVID-19.”

“We conclude that these findings support the conclusion that video testimony was necessary to protect JA’s health. Accommodating JA’s health conditions was more than a matter of convenience. Given the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the risk to JA’s health if she was required to travel to Washington was significant and more than de minimis.” ~WA Court of Appeals.

The COA concluded that the trial court did not err in allowing Biddulph and JA to testify remotely by video and their testimony did not violate Milko’s confrontation right. Consequently, the COA affirmed Milko’s convictions and sentence.

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.

Auto Dealership Burglaries Are On the Rise

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Apparently, auto dealers and repair shops are increasingly becoming a target of burglars around the Puget Sound region. Car thieves have become more brazen and aggressive in their attempts to profit from auto dealerships, whether stealing whole cars or stripping them of valuable parts.

Journalist Nicole Jennings reports that Western Washington burglars are reportedly breaking into dealerships and mechanics’ shops, often by ramming their cars into service entrances. Also, journalist Sebastian Robertson reported that a car dealership in Fife has suffered multiple break-ins. In one case, suspects made off with several sets of keys, only to return days later.

The object of the burglary usually appears to be the keys to the cars on site — either the dealership’s own cars or the keys that people drop off when having their cars worked on. The criminals steal the cars at the time of the burglary, or return later for them. This recently happened at Nissan of Olympia, when burglars rammed a car into the service entrance to get in.

The Puget Sound Auto Theft Task Force, made up of police officers from different agencies, is putting a special emphasis toward catching the burglars. PSATT is dedicated to investigating prolific auto theft offenders through multi-agency cooperation. The task force is recommending that auto dealers and repair shops put any keys dropped off after hours in a safe or similar secure storage system, so they could not be easily accessed by trespassers. The task force also suggests upgrading video systems and keeping parking lots well-lit.

Here are the Top 10 Burglary Statistics is 2022 according to Bankrate.com:

  1. Over 1 million burglaries are committed each year in the US, according to the FBI.
  2. Most recently, 1.1 million burglaries took place in 2019, down 9.5% since the previous year.
  3. One burglary happens every 25.7 seconds, so approximately 3,300 per day.
  4. The average value of property taken during burglaries is about $2,600, making the total cost of burglaries in 2019 about $2.9 billion.
  5. Burglars are drawn to homes that do not have home security systems. Homes that don’t have a security system are 300% more likely to be burglarized (Alarms.org).
  6. Unfortunately, less than 30% of homes have an effective security system installed (Security.org).
  7. 27% of the time, a person is home while the burglary occurs; 26% of those people home are harmed.
  8. Someone was injured in 7.2% of all burglaries committed.
  9. In 85% of burglaries, the crime is committed by amateurs, often done by someone who is desperate. It is assumed these amateurs are more unpredictable and dangerous than professional thieves.
  10. Despite the grim statistics burglaries have declined by 49% in the last 20 years, according to FBI data.

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

Animal Cruelty Can Be DV

Animal Cruelty and Domestic Violence - The Link Between Cruelty to Animals and Violence Toward Humans

In State v. Abdi-Issa, the WA Supreme Court held that Animal Cruelty may be designated
as a crime of Domestic Violence.

BACKGROUND FACTS

Ms. Fairbanks began dating Mr. Abdi-Issa shortly after she moved to Seattle with her dog, Mona. Mona was a small Chihuahua and Dachshund mix. Fairbanks testified she was close to Mona. Abdi-Issa, however, had a history of disliking Mona. Abdi-Issa was abusive toward Fairbanks and Mona, even threatening to kill them both.

One evening, while they were out in Seattle’s International District, Abdi-Issa insisted Fairbanks let him take Mona on a walk. Fairbanks objected, but Abdi-Issa ignored her and left with Mona. Not long after he left, Abdi-Issa called Fairbanks claiming that Mona had gotten out of her harness and that he could not find her. Fairbanks did not believe him, as Mona had never gotten out of her harness before. Abdi-Issa refused to tell her more. Fairbanks began to panic after she heard Mona yelping over the phone.

Around that same time, bystanders heard a sound of great distress. One of the bystanders was Ms. Ludin. She followed the sound and saw Abdi-Issa beating and making “brutal stabbing” motions toward Mona. She also saw Abdi-Issa kick Mona so hard that she went up into the air and into the bushes. Each time Mona was struck she made a screeching, screaming, pained, sound that was at last followed by silence.

Seattle Police Officers responded to the 911 call. Mona was found, still alive, underneath a bush. Officers transported Mona to an emergency veterinary clinic. Mona arrived at the clinic nearly comatose. She had severe swelling in her brain, bruising on her chest, and a wound to the top of her head. By the time Fairbanks arrived at the veterinary clinic Mona had died. A necropsy found that Mona had died from multiple instances of blunt force trauma.

The State charged Abdi-Issa with First Degree Animal Cruelty and sought a domestic violence designation. The State also charged two sentencing aggravators: (1) that the crime had a destructive and foreseeable impact on persons other than the victim, and (2) that Abdi-Issa’s conduct during the crime of domestic violence manifested deliberate cruelty or intimidation of the victim. Abdi-Issa unsuccessfully moved to dismiss the domestic violence designation and aggravators multiple times.

The jury found Abdi-Issa guilty of animal cruelty. The jury also found that Abdi-Issa and Fairbanks were in a domestic relationship prior to the crime. This allowed for a domestic violence designation.

The court imposed the maximum 12-month sentence for the crime of animal cruelty, and an additional 6 months for the aggravator, sentencing Abdi-Issa to an 18-month prison sentence. Based on the domestic violence designation, the court also imposed a no-contact order prohibiting Abdi-Issa from having contact with Fairbanks.

However,  the Court of Appeals vacated the domestic violence designation, the no-contact order, and the sentencing aggravator. The State appealed. The WA Supreme Court granted review and addressed the State’s appeal.

COURT’S ANALYSIS AND CONCLUSIONS

1. Animal Cruelty as a Crime of Domestic Violence

First, the WA Supreme Court decided that Animal Cruelty may be designated a crime of domestic violence. At first, the Court said Abdi-Issa correctly argued that Animal Cruelty is not a designated DV crime.

“But the list of crimes is explicitly nonexclusive,” wrote Justice Gonzalez. The court further reasoned that many of the designated DV crimes, including Burglary and Malicious Mischief, are against a victim’s property.

“Pets, as a matter of law, are considered personal property. Here, Fairbanks was directly harmed as a result of Abdi-Issa’s violent killing of her beloved pet and companion. She is plainly a victim of Abdi-Issa’s crime.” ~Justice Steven C. Gonzalez, WA Supreme Court

2. Sentencing Aggravator—Impact on Others

Next, the Court addressed whether the “Impact on Others” sentencing aggravator was appropriate. Here, defendants face increased consequences if the offense involves a “destructive and foreseeable impact on persons other than the victim.” Justice Gonzalez emphasized how Ms. Ludin, the bystander who witnessed the attack on Mona, was deeply affected by the incident.

“Ludin made the 911 call and was very distressed when the police arrived. Ludin testified that she had a severe panic attack that night, sitting in her car for a long time before she was calm enough to drive herself home. She continued to have flashbacks, had trouble sleeping, and would go into a state of panic whenever she heard a ‘high pitched, squeaky sound.’ Abdi-Issa’s act had a destructive and foreseeable impact on Ludin.

Abdi-Issa’s actions impacted someone other than Fairbanks. This emotional and psychological trauma will be something that Ludin and Fairbanks continue to carry. The sentencing aggravator was properly applied in this case.” ~Justice Steven C. Gonzalez, WA Supreme Court

Consequently, the Court held that Animal Cruelty can be designated as a DV crime and that the sentencing aggravators were appropriate.

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

Protecting Pot Shops

Brazen Weed Dispensary Robbery Happened At 4:20 AM | NowThis - YouTube

Great article from King 5 discusses the Washington Senate passing a pot shop protection bill.

Senate Bill 5927 adds a year to a prison sentence of someone convicted of first- or second-degree robbery of a cannabis retailer. It’s the same sentence that is given to someone who robs a pharmacy.

The passage of the bill in the Senate follows rising concerns over violent robberies at cannabis shops. This bill would make improvements for not just the benefit of the retailers themselves, but for the public safety of the community as a whole.

“When people would ask the infamous bank robber Willie Sutton why he robbed banks, Sutton simply replied, ‘Because that’s where the money is.’ Well, that’s why people rob marijuana retailers. Due to federal banking rules, these businesses are almost entirely cash-only operations, making them a target for robberies and a magnet for criminals.” ~Bill sponsor Sen. Jim Honeyford (R-Sunnyside)

Tom Bout, the founder of the Cannabis Professionals Network, made a spreadsheet tracking the crimes he could find records for. He counted more than 30 crimes since November 2021.

A spokesperson for the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board said it has been working to communicate safety guidelines with business owners.

The state Liquor and Cannabis Board said it is communicating these safety tips with cannabis retailers:

  • Hire armed security guards
  • Make frequent cash deposits so there isn’t much cash available in shops
  • Post signs in businesses explaining that staff don’t have access to much cash
  • Clearly communicate safety guidelines with staff so they know what to do in the event of a robbery.

Bout said the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board is not doing enough to protect cannabis retailers.

“They have not communicated with the stores. Like, you’d think that they would put on an alert to let everyone know that this has happened,” he said during a previous interview.

Interesting times, no? Years ago, selling and possessing marijuana was illegal. Nowadays, we’re passing laws bringing enhanced penalties to people who rob our pot shops.

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.

 

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.

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.