Tag Archives: Mt. Vernon Criminal Defense Attorney

Traffic Fatalities Reach High in 2022

WTSC: Traffic deaths in Washington reach 20-year high – KIRO 7 News Seattle

Preliminary reports from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) showed 745 people were killed in crashes in 2022. Apparently, the number of people killed on Washington roads has now reached levels the state hasn’t seen in decades.

The rate of the year-over-year increase is something the commission said it hasn’t seen since the 1970s.

Impairment by drugs and alcohol is involved in more than half of fatal crashes. According to a December 2022 report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “Alcohol-involved crashes resulted in 14,219 fatalities, 497,000 nonfatal injuries, and $68.9 billion in economic costs in 2019….”

“During 2017 through 2021, 32 percent of fatal crashes in Washington involved alcohol positive drivers,” said WTSC Director Shelly Baldwin. “Alcohol impairment, whether alone or in combination with other drugs, continues to be a leading risk factor in traffic fatalities.”

Health and safety experts have long advocated for states to reduce the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) per se limit for DUI from 0.08 to 0.05 percent. The state of Utah and more than 100 countries have set BAC limits at 0.05 percent or less. The Washington Legislature is currently considering Senate Bill 5002, which would change the state’s limit to 0.05.

“The goal of this bill is not to increase the number of DUI arrests but to remind and encourage people to avoid driving after drinking and thereby save lives. This was the outcome in Utah, and we expect a similar impact in Washington State.” ~Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste.

At a BAC of 0.05 percent, a driver has reduced coordination and ability to track moving objects, difficulty steering, and delayed response to emergency driving situations. “The evidence is clear that a driver’s ability to drive safely and react to unexpected traffic conditions is affected when their BAC reaches 0.05 percent,” Baldwin said.

If passed, the legislation would go into effect on July 1, 2023.

The WTSC reminds all people in Washington that there are simple things we can do to prevent impaired driving like planning ahead for a sober ride home if you will be out drinking. Friends and loved ones can help to prevent DUIs by being a sober designated driver, calling a rideshare, or offering a place to sleep.

WTSC analysis shows impaired drivers are more likely to speed and less likely to wear seat belts. These factors increase crash risk and are more likely to result in death.

If passed, the legislation would go into effect on July 1, 2023. There’s also growing momentum for an update to the “Cooper Jones Act.” This legislation requires drivers involved in serious or deadly crashes to have their license re-examined.

Many factors lead to traffic fatalities. Increasing public safety is almost always a step in the right direction.  However, please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with DUI, Vehicular Assault any other crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Proposed Bills Seek to Change Washington’s Police Pursuit Law

Washington police report rise in indifference after no-pursuit law - FISM TV

Lawmakers will soon be considering proposals to change Washington’s law that restricts police pursuits. The three legislative proposals – HB 1053SB 5352, and HB1363 – would all change the law to remove language specifying the types of offenses for which an officer can initiate a pursuit.

The bills repeal a 2021 reform that limited officers to only chasing cars where the suspect is accused of a violent offense, a sex offense, or where the officer suspects DUI.

Law enforcement leaders in Washington have said the new law is emboldening criminals to flee from officers with the belief that they will not be pursued.

“I have never seen criminals as emboldened as they are now,” said Steve Strachan, the Executive Director of the Washington Association of Sheriff’s and Police Chiefs (WASPC). The WASPC sent a letter to lawmakers urging them to undo the 2021 reforms. In short the letter says that offenders have been given the advantage over victims of crimes.

“Recent policies restricting pursuits made driving a car a ‘get out of jail free’ card and creates conditions that empower criminals, jeopardize public safety, and diminishes the rule of law in Washington. We can fix the pursuit law to fall in line with Washington State’s duty of care standards and enable more discretion in engaging in police vehicle pursuits in a manner that offers a balance between the risk of the pursuit versus the reasons(s) for the pursuit. Severe prohibitions on vehicular pursuits need to be reversed.” ~WASPC Letter to Lawmakers.

Supporters of the 2021 reforms, however, argue pursuits present too much of a danger and want the law left alone.

The Washington Coalition for Police Accountability (WCPA) wrote a letter to lawmakers on Tuesday urging them to leave the law as is.

“We sincerely believe that if this law is rolled back, there will be a sharp increase of fatalities of bystanders and passengers. That is a high cost, is not necessary, and the policy change cannot be explained or justified.” ~WCPA

Governor Jay Inslee said last week he is open to changes in the state’s pursuit laws, but pushed back on the idea that the 2021 reform is responsible for an increase in crime.

“It’s a myth that the police accountability laws have caused some crime rave – the fact is crime has gone up across the United States. So the fact that the legislature passed some police accountability, rightfully so, I think it hasn’t caused crime to go up in New Jersey or Minnesota. This is not the reason we’re experiencing some additional crime in our in our state. It is a national phenomena,” ~Governor Jay Inslee.

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.

Washington is the Second-Worst State to Drive

See Where Washington Ranks Among The Worst States To Drive In | Q103.3

Apparently, Washington State is one of the worst states in the U.S. to drive in, according to a new report. Personal finance website WalletHub took a look at all 50 states to determine which are the best – and the worst – to drive in. Unfortunately, Washington State landed second from last on the list.

Traffic, road conditions and the cost of vehicle maintenance are all things that can make drivers nervous. These conditions vary across states for a variety of reasons including population, weather and government investments.

THE RANKING/GRADING CRITERIA.

To rank the states, WalletHub compared them across four key dimensions: 1. Cost of ownership and maintenance, 2. Traffic and infrastructure, 3. Safety and 4. Access to vehicles and maintenance.

Researchers then broke those dimensions down into 31 relevant metrics, including things like average gas prices, the share of rush-hour traffic congestion, number of days with precipitation, road quality, traffic fatality rate, car theft rate and auto-repair shops per capita.

Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the best for drivers. WalletHub determined each state’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score.

THE RESULTS: WA STATE RANKS SECOND-TO-LAST IN WORST STATES TO DRIVE IN.

When the scores were determined, WalletHub’s report shows that Washington ranked 49th overall among 50 states, making it the second-worst state to drive in. The state ranked 47th among all states for its cost of vehicle ownership and maintenance and 39th among states for traffic and infrastructure. Both scores contributed greatly to the state finishing so low on the list.

The only state worse to drive in than Washington, according to the report, is Hawaii.

In the report, WalletHub asked experts how states can reduce the number of traffic fatalities. Dr. Arman Sargolzaei, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Southern Florida said the vast majority of U.S. traffic accidents are entirely or partially due to human error.

“A shift in responsibilities from the human driver to self-driving cars can potentially reduce accidents,” ~Dr. Arman Sargolzaei.

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

Power Grid Attacks Increasing

Power grid attacks reported in Washington, across nation | king5.com

Attacks on power substations are growing. Apparently, five states in the Pacific Northwest and Southeast reveal similar incidents of attacks. Vandalism and suspicious activity were on the rise.

Federal energy reports through August – the most recent available – show an increase in physical attacks at electrical facilities across the nation this year, continuing a trend seen since 2017. At least 108 human-related events were reported during the first eight months of 2022, compared with 99 in all of 2021 and 97 in 2020. More than a dozen cases of vandalism have been reported since September.

The attacks have prompted a flurry of calls to better protect the nation’s power grid, but experts have warned for more than three decades that stepped-up protection was needed.

ATTACKS ON POWER STATIONS ARE ON THE RISE

  • At least 20 actual physical attacks were reported, compared with six in all of 2021.
  • Suspicious-activity reports jumped three years ago, nearly doubling in 2020 to 32 events. In the first eight months of this year, 34 suspicious incidents were reported.
  • Total human-related incidents – including vandalism, suspicious activity and cyber events – are on track to be the highest since the reports started showing such activity in 2011.

ATTACKS ARE REPORTD ON AT LEAST 5 STATES

Since September, attacks or potential attacks have been reported on at least 18 additional substations and one power plant in Florida, Oregon, Washington and the Carolinas. Several involved firearms.

  • In Florida: Six “intrusion events” occurred at Duke Energy substations in September, resulting in at least one brief power outage, according to the News Nation television network, which cited a report the utility sent to the Energy Department. Duke Energy spokesperson Ana Gibbs confirmed a related arrest, but the company declined to comment further.
  • In Oregon and Washington state: Substations were attacked at least six times in November and December, with firearms used in some cases, local news outlets reported. On Christmas Day, four additional substations were vandalized in Washington State, cutting power to more than 14,000 customers.
  • In North Carolina: A substation in Maysville was vandalized on Nov. 11. On Dec. 3, shootings that authorities called a “targeted attack” damaged two power substations in Moore County, leaving tens of thousands without power amid freezing temperatures.
  • In South Carolina: Days later, gunfire was reported near a hydropower plant, but police said the shooting was a “random act.”

The Department of Homeland Security has previously warned that power infrastructure is an “attractive” target for domestic terrorists. Last year, three men pleaded guilty today to crimes related to a scheme to attack power grids in furtherance of white supremacist ideology.

“We have seen attacks such as these increase in Western Washington and throughout the country and must treat each incident seriously . . . The outages on Christmas left thousands in the dark and cold and put some who need power for medical devices at extreme risk.” ~U.S. Attorney Nick Brown.

My opinion? These actions bring criminal charges far more egrigious than your standard Malicious Mischief. If caught, defendants face federal crimes of Sabotage. Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a similar crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Sentencing Enhancements For Dealing Drugs Near School Zones

Drug Problem Facing Local Campus - Newport Beach News

In State v. Richter, the WA Court of Appeals held that the Blake decision does not invalidate the enhancement for trafficking drugs within 1000’ of a school bus route stop just because a drug dealer might deal drugs without knowing he or she is close to such a stop.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Mr. Richter was convicted of three counts of delivery of a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school bus route stop and one count of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. The trial court imposed an exceptional upward sentence of 168 months based in part on former RCW 69.50.435(1)(c). The statute allows judges to double the statutory maximum sentences for drug offenses that occurred in certain locations.

Richter appeals his sentence. Among other things, he argued his sentence violated due process under the reasoning in State v. Blake, In the Blake case, the Washington Supreme Court struck down Washington’s drug possession statute, because the statute violated due process and was therefore void. The law criminalized “unknowing” drug possession. As a result,  people could be arrested and convicted even if they did not realize they had drugs in their possession.  Consequently, Mr. Richter hoped that his appeal would persuade the WA Court of Appeals to reverse his conviction for the same reasons.

COURT’S ANALYSIS & CONCLUSIONS

The WA Court of Appeals began by summarizing the Blake decision. In Blake, the WA Supreme Court declared Washington’s statute criminalizing simple possession of a controlled substance to be unconstitutional because the statute allowed conviction even if the possession was unknowing.

The Court of Appeals emphasized that Blake court held that active trafficking in drugs was not innocent conduct. States have criminalized knowing drug possession nationwide, and there is plenty of reason to know that illegal drugs are highly regulated. The Court of Appeals also emphasized that the Blake court then distinguished the unconstitutional simple possession statute from other valid strict liability crimes. Ultimately, the difference hinges on whether the statutes penalize conduct or passive and innocent nonconduct.

That, reasoned the Court of Appeals, is where Mr. Richter’s argument on appeal collapsed.

The statute imposed increased consequences for affirmative conduct, not the kind of passive nonconduct that the Blake court declared to be innocent:

“Here, although Richter may not have known that he was within a school bus route stop zone, he does not dispute that he intended to sell methamphetamine, and the delivery amounted to affirmative conduct. Therefore, the Blake court’s reasoning does not apply to this case or to former RCW 69.50.435(1) more generally.” ~WA Court of Appeals.

With that, the Court of Appeals denied Richter’s appeal on this issue.

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

Increased DUI Patrols in Whatcom this New Year’s Weekend

Celebrate safely, avoid a DWI on New Year's Eve - AvvoStories

Informative article by journalist Alyse Smith reports that Whatcom County police will increase the number of patrols through Jan. 1st. This comes with an effort to prevent “further tragedy by removing impaired drivers from Washington roads,” according to a Washington Traffic Safety Commission news release.

As traffic deaths reached a 20-year high in 2021, 2022 had an even higher number of fatalities, with 15% more deaths in 2022 from January through October alone. More than half of traffic fatalities each year involve impaired drivers, according to the news release.

“Impaired driving crashes are totally preventable. We can all do our part to keep impaired drivers off our roads so that no one has to miss their loved ones during the holiday season.” ~Mark McKechnie, Washington Traffic Safety Commission.

If you’re out driving in Whatcom County and a police officer pulls you over, there are a few things you can expect if you are driving impaired, according to Carr Lanham, Target Zero manager for the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.

If a police officer is attempting to pull you over, pull over and stop at the next safest location where you and the police officer can safely get off the road. You should not get out of your vehicle, but keep your hands on the steering wheel until the officer asks you to get your license, registration and proof of insurance, according to Lanham.

People arrested for DUI in Whatcom County are booked into the Whatcom County Jail, and bail is not available until they go before a judge.

The minimum consequence for a DUI arrest in Whatcom County is 24 hours in jail, and the maximum penalty is 365 days, unless it is a felony DUI arrest, according to Lanham. There is a maximum fine of $5,000, and those convicted of a DUI can also receive a 90-day suspension of license, be ordered to alcohol and drug treatment and a five-year probation, according to Lanham.

The commission also encourages drivers to avoid driving impaired, and advises drivers who know they will be drinking alcohol or using cannabis to arrange a ride home ahead of time or call a rideshare service. And if you see a driver who is driving erratically and may be impaired, the commission encourages you to call 911.

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.

Should Prison Inmates Get Minimum Wage for Prison Jobs?

Sell Block: The empty promises of prison labor

Excellent article by Journalist Drew Mikkelsen reports that WA State Representative Tarra Simmons wants to start paying inmates minimum wage for prison jobs.

According to the Department of Corrections (DOC), 1,600 offenders currently work in-custody jobs. They pay between 65 cents to $2.70 per hour. Inmates are paid to work in prison kitchens, they build office furniture and assemble eyeglasses.

DOC spokesperson Chris Wright said those are “one of the top hourly rates in the country.”

“This is an evolution of slavery,” said state Representative Tarra Simmons, D-Bremerton. Simmons is believed to be the first person convicted of a felony to get elected to serve in Olympia. She served a 30-month prison sentence for drug and theft charges. She worked in the kitchen, laundry room, and as a custodian. “When I was incarcerated I was paid 42 cents an hour,” said Simmons. Her proposal would place half of an inmate’s earnings into an account that could not be accessed until the inmate’s release.

“If people can leave with enough money to have transportation, for housing, clothing, food and potentially some job training, hopefully they will have a better chance at not coming back,” ~Tarra Simmons, D-Bremerton

Simmons said the issue will come up for debate in the upcoming legislative session, which starts in January.

Mrs. Simmons is quite remarkable. She’s a politician, convicted felon, lawyer, and civil rights activist for criminal justice reform. In 2011 Simmons was sentenced to 30 months in prison for theft and drug crimes. In 2017, she graduated from Seattle University School of Law with honors. After law school, she was not allowed to sit for the Washington State bar exam due to her status as a former convicted felon.

Consequently, she challenged the Washington State Bar Association rules in the Washington State Supreme Court and won with the court unanimously ruling in her favor. She was later sworn in as an attorney in the State of Washington on June 16, 2018. Simmons is the executive director for a nonprofit focused on assisting those that are formerly incarcerated, known as the Civil Survival Project

Republican Sen. Phil Fortunato, R-Auburn, said the inmates are enough of a tax burden on the state:

“To me, it doesn’t make much sense . . . There’s no end to what we can do with other people’s money.” ~Republican Sen. Phil Fortunato, R-Auburn

Mt opinion? Prison is big business. The state of Washington saves millions by paying inmates pennies per hour for work done behind bars.Billions of dollars in revenue are generated by both the private prison industry and the labor of individuals who are incarcerated. From desks to textiles, a complex web of manufacturing is produced each day in New York Prisons—in fact, every New York license plate is created by an individual with justice involvement. Though their work results in billions of dollars, individuals with justice involvement receive literal pennies in return.

Of course, the best route is to avoid prison altogether. 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.

FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics in Whatcom County

United States Department of Justice-Hate Crimes-Learn More

Informative article by Robert Mittendorf discusses the FBI’s recent statistics on Whatcom County’s Hate Crime numbers. The FBI’s report included incidents from 2021 that were reported from numerous police agencies. Information was gleaned from Bellingham Police, the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, Western Washington University Police, Lummi Nation and Nooksack tribal police, and police in Blaine, Everson, Ferndale, Lynden and Sumas.

A total of 12 hate crimes were reported in Whatcom County in 2021, down from 20 in 2020. As a caveat, Whatcom County agencies did not report bias incidents, which often don’t meet the legal standard for a hate crime. Malicious Harassment is what a hate crime is called in Washington state. It must include an assault or vandalism, or cause reasonable fear in the victim.

The 2021 crime statistics included the following:

  • Bellingham reported nine incidents, including six with racial motivation, one with religious overtones and two that involved sexual orientation. That overall figure was down from 14 incidents that Bellingham Police reported to the FBI in 2020. One incident was anti-white and another was anti-Protestant, according to the data.
  • Three of the six racially motivated incidents in 2021 were directed at people of Asian heritage, who have faced increasing harassment in recent years.
  • Whatcom County reported a single hate crime in 2021, an incident that was listed as anti-Hispanic or Latino.
  • A total of four hate crimes were reported by the Sheriff’s Office in 2020. Members of the Whatcom County Council voted 4-3 to form a Racial Equity Commission earlier this year, and both the Bellingham City Council and the Whatcom County Council have said that racism is a public health crisis.
  • Western Washington University reported two hate crimes in 2021, both based on religion. WWU also reported two incidents in 2020. One victim at WWU was of the Sikh faith and the other was Jewish, according to the report. WWU has seen several racial bias incidents this fall, including those directed at Jews, Iranian Muslims and Blacks, The Herald has reported.
  • Lynden Police reported a single hate crime in 2021, an assault where gender identity was the motive.
  • Police in Blaine, Everson, Ferndale and Sumas reported no hate crimes that met FBI guidelines in 2021.
  • Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribal Police reported no hate crimes in 2021.

My opinion? Hate crimes occur when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her membership in a certain social group, usually defined by race, religion, color, national origin (or ethnicity), age, disability, sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity. Hate crimes are different because they’re not always directed simply at an individual. They are meant to cause fear and intimidation in an entire group or class of people.

However, simply because someone believes they are victimized for their race, religion, etc., doesn’t always mean they are actually victims of hate crimes. Perhaps the perpetrator suffered from a mental health episode. Perhaps a lack of evidence may exist. Or perhaps the alleged victim was overly sensitive. And we can’t overlook the fact that some want to increase such prosecutions by defining so-called “hate speech” as a hate crime. “Cancel culture” and “trigger warnings” are bad enough, but criminalizing speech that some find offensive?

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.

DOJ Ends Crack Cocaine Sentencing Disparities

No More Crack/Powder Disparities – Dr. Carl Hart, PhD

The US attorney general, Merrick Garland, moved to end sentencing disparities that have imposed different penalties for different forms of cocaine. This signaled an end to arbitrary drug policies that have worsened racial inequity in the US justice system.

For decades federal law has imposed harsher sentences for crack cocaine even though it isn’t scientifically different from powder cocaine, creating “unwarranted racial disparities,” Garland wrote in a memo Friday to federal prosecutors. “They are two forms of the same drug, with powder readily convertible into crack cocaine.”

With changes to the law stalled in Congress, Garland instructed prosecutors in non-violent, low-level cases to file charges that avoid the mandatory minimum sentences that are triggered for smaller amounts of rock cocaine.

Civil rights leaders and criminal justice reform advocates applauded the changes, though they said the changes would not be permanent without action from Congress. The Rev Al Sharpton led marches in the 1990s against the laws he called “unfair and racially tinged” and applauded the justice department direction, which takes effect within 30 days.

“This was not only a major prosecutorial and sentencing decision – it is a major civil rights decision. The racial disparities of this policy have ruined homes and futures for over a generation.” ~Reverend Al Sharpton

At one point, federal law treated a single gram of crack the same as 100 grams of powder cocaine. Congress narrowed that gap in 2010 but did not completely close it. A bill to end the disparity passed the House last year but stalled in the Senate.

“This has been one of the policies that has sent thousands and thousands of predominantly Black men to the federal prison system,” said Janos Marton, vice-president of political strategy with the group Dream.org. “And that’s been devastating for communities and for families.”

While he welcomed the change in prosecution practices, he pointed out that unless Congress acted, it could be temporary. The bill that passed the House with bipartisan support last year would also be retroactive to apply to people already convicted under the law passed in 1986.

The Black incarceration rate in the US exploded after the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 went into effect. It went from about 600 per 100,000 people in 1970 to 1,808 in 2000. In the same timespan, the rate for the Latino population grew from 208 per 100,000 people to 615, while the white incarceration rate grew from 103 per 100,000 people to 242.

The mandatory-minimum policies came as the use of illicit drugs, including crack cocaine in the late 1980s, was accompanied by an alarming increase in homicides and other violent crimes nationwide.

The act was passed shortly after an NBA draftee died of a cocaine-induced heart attack. It imposed mandatory federal sentences of 20 years to life in prison for violating drug laws and made sentences for possession and sale of crack rocks harsher than those for powder cocaine.

Friday’s announcement reflected the ways that years of advocacy had pushed a shift away from the “war on drugs” tactics that took a heavy toll on marginalized groups and drove up the nation’s incarceration rates without an accompanying investment in other services to rebuild communities, said Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change.

“It is a recognition these laws were intended to target Black people and Black communities and were never intended to give communities the type of support and investments they need,” he said.

My opinion? It’s about time. The sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine was racist. It was never based in sound policy, and has not improved public safety. Far from it — it is science fiction that has driven racial disparities, bloated our carceral system, and ruined thousands of lives.

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.

Harming a Police Dog

Man Who Shot, Killed Ohio K-9 Officer Jethro Sentenced to 45 Years in Prison - ABC News

In State v. Moose, the WA Court of Appeals decided an interesting case involving a defendant maliciously harming a K-9 officer.

BACKGROUND FACTS

The Defendant Mr. Moose attempted to light a car on fire. In the process, he intentionally lit a police dog on fire while resisting arrest. The State filed four charges against him—attempted Arson in the Second Degree, Harming a Police Dog, Resisting Arrest, and attempted Malicious Mischief in the Third Degree. A jury convicted him of all charges. Mr. Moose appealed his conviction. He argued that the term “maliciously” under the Malicious Mischief statute does not include police dogs.

COURT’S ANALYSIS & CONCLUSIONS

The Court of Appeals began by framing Mr. Moose’s appellate arguments. In short, Moose argued that the State lacked evidence to convict him because the Malicious Mischief statute defines “maliciously” as “an evil intent, wish, or design to vex, annoy, or injure another person.”  Because Mr. Moose harmed a police dog, not “another person,” the State failed to prove he acted maliciously as required by statute.

However, the Court of Appeals denied Moose’s interpretation of the statute:

“Mr. Moose’s argument is unconvincing . . . A statute criminalizing malicious injury of a police dog plainly requires a definition of “maliciously” that applies to police dogs. Further, Mr. Moose’s reading of “maliciously” in RCW 9A.76.200 to require acting against “another person” violates multiple canons of statutory interpretation . . .

He suggests we read RCW 9A.76.200 so as to render the entire statute meaningless. This is an absurd result that was clearly not intended by the legislature. The State was not required to prove Mr. Moose harmed “another person” to prove he harmed a police dog, and the evidence at trial was sufficient to sustain his conviction.”

With that, the Court of Appeals upheld Moose’s conviction.

My opinion? In nearly every state, there are specific laws that, for all intents and purposes, equate an attack on a police dog as the same as an attack on a regular officer. WA State is no different, and the penalties are incredible harsh. Recently, a man was sentenced to 45 years for killing a police dog. Generally, though, individuals do have the right to resist unlawful arrests, excessive force, and unprovoked attacks from officers and K-9s.

However, when a police dog is attacking a person, depending on what the dog is doing, a person may be able to claim that the use of a police dog constitutes excessive force. Many police dogs are trained to “bite and hold” suspects, which as the name implies, involves a K-9 literally biting down on a suspect in order to prevent them from fleeing until human officers can arrive. Because dog bites can be extraordinarily severe, an individual may be justified in fighting back in that situation. Self-Defense may apply if the bite is drawing blood, or severely injuring an individual.

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.


Alexander F. Ransom

Attorney at Law
Criminal Defense Lawyer

119 North Commercial St.
Suite #1420
Bellingham, WA 98225

117 North 1st Street
Suite #27
Mount Vernon, WA 98273

Phone: (360) 746-2642
Fax: (360) 746-2949

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