Tag Archives: Mt. Vernon Criminal Defense

Faulty Body Scanners at Whatcom County Jail

X-ray scanners stop over 1,000 illegal items entering prisons - GOV.UK

According to the Bellingham Herald, faulty body scanners at the Whatcom County Jail are letting drugs and other contraband into the lockup and must be replaced.

“Within the last two weeks, we’ve had three overdoses related to fentanyl that’s been smuggled into the facility. This is becoming an increasing problem, and those scanners are one of the main tools that we have to detect contraband, both weapons and drugs being smuggled into the facility by persons coming in to the facility through the booking process.” ~WCSO Undersheriff Doug Chadwick

According to previous Bellingham Herald reporting, those scanners were bought in 2018 and 2019 to keep drugs, weapons, cigarettes and lighters out of the jail. Unfortunately, the company that makes the scanners isn’t servicing or maintaining them. Thus far in 2023 there have been 13 overdoses in Whatcom County jail facilities.
My opinion? These security breaches should not be happening. Hopefully, the newly-passed sales tax to pay for a new Whatcom County jail will bring new and improved scanners. Proposition 4 – which passed by 66% in Whatcom County – was the third jail measure Whatcom County had put before voters since 2015. The 2015 plan was for a 521-bed jail at a cost of $125 million. After voters rejected that proposal, county leaders came back in 2017 with 480 beds and a $110 million price tag. Voters rejected this smaller, cheaper jail even more resoundingly.
Under the law, correctional officers have more leeway to order intrusive searches of inmates in a county jail or prison. Along with body scanners, officers can perform a strip search if the search is related to reasonable objectives, such as safety and security. As a result, a defendant’s Constitutional rights against unlawful search and seizure isn’t available if they’re in custody.
Police can perform strip searches without the factors that would give rise to a suspicion that the arrestee possessed concealed contraband. This is allowed, even though nothing about their case would lead police to believe they had anything dangerous or prohibited on their person. Making matters worse, it’s a felony for an inmate to possess weapons and/or contraband.
Jail 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.

Why Does Crime Increase During the Holidays?

Holiday Drinking: Beware Seasonal Triggers for Overindulging in Alcohol | Rutgers University

When most people think about the holidays, they imagine quality time spent with family and friends. Unfortunately, although it’s the season of giving and goodness, holiday crime statistics show that retail theft and other crimes spike by 30% or more. There are several reasons why holiday crime statistics are higher than any other time of year.

REASONS WHY CRIME INCREASES DURING THE HOLIDAYS

  • Increased consumption of alcohol: Many events surrounding the holidays involve food and drink, and some people take the risk of driving home drunk.
  • Heightened emotions: Some people have a difficult time during the holidays. They may have been cast away by family members or living in a home where domestic violence is present. Self-inflicted wounds, addiction, and assaults are more common in those who become more emotional during the holidays. Strong emotions can cause people to make impulse decisions they may later regret.
  • Increased theft: The business and distractions of hectic stores, and the pressure to give gifts during the holidays can lead some people to resort to theft.

CRIMES COMMITTED DURING THE CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS

Black Friday, Boxing Day, and seasonal sales bring the busiest shopping times of the year. Despite the reduced prices and great deals, some people are tempted to steal from stores and from customers. Organized Retail Theft and shoplifting are crimes which tend to increase this time of year. Cyber fraud and theft also rise during the holidays as more people use online payments to buy gifts. There are several frauds that ask people to click links or give personal banking information to unsolicited emails.

Another crime that increases during the holidays is Domestic Violence. Increased stress, financial troubles and Depression are contributing factors. This, in combination with the increased alcohol consumption and drug abuse, contribute to this spike.

NEW YEAR’S EVE CRIMES

New Year celebrations usually see an increase in crimes such as Driving Under the Influence (DUI). Many people celebrate the entrance of a new year by drinking with friends and family. Some people may think they have control over their actions or over the vehicle when they drive home drunk. However, law enforcement is aware of this. That’s why many officers patrol the streets on holiday emphasis patrols. Keeping the streets safe is one of their primary duties over the holidays. Therefore, the chances of getting caught are even higher than one might think.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime during the holidays. Don’t tarnish Christmas or New Year’s Eve with a criminal conviction. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

WA State Patrol Kicks Off “Home For the Holidays” DUI Enforcement Campaign

Washington State Police: Home for the Holidays Traffic Safety Campaign | Local | bigcountrynewsconnection.com

Accoding to a press release, the Washington State Patrol (WSP) and the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) will work together to enforce DUI pullovers and encourage drivers to make good choices.

The “Home for the Holidays” traffic safety campaign continues now through New Years Eve. Historically, the WSP observes an increase in all collision types during this time frame, as well as an increase in impaired drivers on our roadways.

“While we can’t prevent all collisions, buckling up and slowing down, particularly in wet conditions, dramatically improve the chances that drivers and their passengers will survive a crash and avoid serious injury.” ~Shelly Baldwin, WTSC Director.

Encouraging drivers to make good choices behind the wheel is especially important considering the rise in fatality collisions across Washington state over the past several years. According to preliminary WTSC data, there have been nearly as many fatal collisions between through September 2023 (578) as compared to the same timeframe in 2022 (582). Last year was a 32-year high for fatality collisions across Washington state.

Numbers from the WTSC show 776 lives were lost across the state due to traffic related collisions in the months of October, November, and December from 2018 to 2022. Of those tragedies, 40 percent involved impaired drivers, 30 percent involved excessive speed, 16 percent involved distracted drivers, and 29 percent of those killed were pedestrians or pedal cyclists.

“Fatality collisions are preventable tragedies, and we must all do our part in order to help save lives,” said WSP Chief John R. Batiste. “Buckling up, slowing down, and driving sober can help make sure we all make it home to our loved ones for the holidays.”

Drivers are asked to checklist check road conditions before heading out.

  • Buckle up and ensure all occupants are also properly seat belted before driving;
  • Follow posted speed limits and slow down as necessary in adverse weather and around vulnerable road users, including walkers and cyclists;
  • Increase following distance, especially in adverse weather or low light conditions;
  • Always choose to drive sober;
  • Avoid distractions, such as the use of a hand-held cell phone or watching videos while driving.

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

Gunshot Location Technology: Effective or Not?

How ShotSpotter CEO says technology can 'change the risk calculation' for  shooters - mlive.com

In an interesting story, the Seattle City Council has greenlit funding for a controversial gunshot locator system as part of a larger crime prevention pilot project.

WHAT IS GUNSHOT DETECTION TECHNOLOGY?

Gunshot Detection Technology (GDT) uses sophisticated acoustic sensors to detect, locate and alert law enforcement agencies and security personnel about local illegal gunfire incidents in real-time. The digital alerts include a precise location on a map. It corresponds data such as the address, number of rounds fired, type of gunfire, etc. delivered to any browser-enabled smartphone or mobile laptop device as well as police vehicle MDC or desktop.

GDT is touted to protect officers by providing them with increased tactical awareness. It also enables law enforcement agencies to better connect with their communities and bolsters their mission to protect and serve.

With GDT, officers can more quickly arrive at the scene of a crime with an increased level of safety. They know exactly where the gunfire took place. In many cases, an officer can arrive with the shooter still at the crime scene. If the criminal has fled, shell casings and/or other evidence can be recovered and used for investigative and potential prosecution purposes and key witnesses can be interviewed at the crime scene.

Below are just some of the reports showing how ShotSpotter technology is being rejected by cities and police departments. It can can hurt police response times, result in more racial bias, and violate people’s civil liberties.

POLICE CHIEFS CRITICAL OF SHOTSPOTTER, CITIES PULLING OUT OF CONTRACTS

  • San Antonio’s chief of police led the charge to end the city’s ShotSpotter program. He said, “We made a better-than-good-faith effort trying to make it work.” Instead of renewing with ShotSpotter, he said “We’re going to use that money to provide more community engagement, which ShotSpotter can’t provide.”
  • When Fall River, Massachusetts ended its contract with ShotSpotter, their chief of police said, “It’s a costly system that isn’t working to the effectiveness that we need it to work in order to justify the cost.” 
  • Portland, Oregon decided not to move forward with ShotSpotter in July after their mayor approved a pilot program in 2022. The mayor said he was interested in pursuing better strategies.
  • Atlanta decided not to move forward with the technology after two separate pilot programs led to poor results.
  • Chicago’s mayor promised to get rid of ShotSpotter in the city during his campaign. Their contract with the company is up in February.
  • New Orleans; Dayton, OH; Charlotte, NC; and Trenton, NJ also ended their ShotSpotter contracts.

INEFFECTIVE AND HURTS POLICE RESPONSE TIMES

  • study found that CCTV paired with ShotSpotter-type technology, as proposed in this budget, “did not significantly affect the number of confirmed shootings, but it did increase the workload of police attending incidents for which no evidence of a shooting was found.”
  • study published last year of 68 large metropolitan counties in the United States found “ShotSpotter technology has no significant impact on firearm-related homicides or arrest outcomes.”
  • An article by a crime analyst working for the St. Louis Police Department found ShotSpotter-type technology “simply seem to replace traditional calls for service and do so less efficiently and at a greater monetary cost to departments.”
  • report by the Chicago inspector general found that around 90 percent of ShotSpotter alerts are false positives, resulting in police being dispatched 40,000 times when no gun-related violence had taken place.
  • The technology was found to be ineffective in a report by the City of Atlanta, costing $56,000 per gun recovered – money that would have been more effective in other programs.

CIVIL LIBERTY & EQUITY CONCERNS

  • The ACLU-WA has asked the Council to reject funding ShotSpotter, “given that investing in gunshot detection and CCTV technologies will not prevent crime and violence and will adversely impact communities through increased police violence and heightened privacy risks.”
  • Privacy advocates recently asked the Department of Justice to investigate gunshot detection companies because they lead to over policing of communities of color and may be violating the Civil Rights Act.
  • Faulty evidence from ShotSpotter has been used to wrongfully imprison people like Michael Williams. He was held in Chicago for more than a year before the charges were dismissed and prosecutors admitted they had insufficient evidence, according to an AP report.

My opinion? Only time will tell whether GDT is effective and/or equitable.

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.

Protect Yourself Against Jury Duty Scams

Washington State Courts - News, Reports, Court Information

According to a press release, Washington courts and residents are victimized by scams involving false claims from court officials or law enforcement officers.

“Please be advised about the following court-related scams and take appropriate precautions to protect yourself from identity and financial threats. Washington court personnel may contact you by phone, but they will never ask you to provide your personal information such as social security number or bank or credit card information.” ~ Washington Courts Press Release

“SPOOFED” CALLS FROM THE WASHINGTON SUPREME COURT

The Washington Supreme Court has become aware some state residents are receiving “spoofed” calls using fake caller ID information displaying the number of the Supreme Court Clerk’s Office. It is unknown what the falsified callers are asking of recipients, but phone and email scams in recent years have included scam artists pretending to be with courts, police and prosecutor offices.

In its press release, the Washington Supreme Court denies making calls to residents. It is advised that if you receive such a phone call, do not give any information. Please hang up and contact law enforcement immediately. If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from the state Supreme Court, please contact us at 360-357-2074.

JURY DUTY PHONE SCAM

Washington residents have received phone calls from individuals claiming to be law enforcement officers (such as a Deputy Sheriff) or court personnel saying they’ve missed jury duty — and must pay. These callers request immediate payment to avoid issuance of a warrant related to Jury Duty. These payments have ranged from a few hundred to thousands of dollars. Typically, the payments are requested to be made via some type of pre-paid card such as “Green Dot.”

If you receive such a phone call, do not give any personal, credit card, or banking information. You should hang up and contact law enforcement immediately.

COURT APPEARANCE CYBER SCAM

A fraudulent email is being widely distributed around the U.S. with the subject line “Urgent court notice NR#73230” (or another random number) that claims the receiver is scheduled to appear in “the court of Washington” on a particular date. The receiver is then instructed to open the attached court notice and read it thoroughly and is warned about not appearing.

This is a “malware” email and will download a virus to your computer if you open the attachment. Please delete the email immediately without opening it. This email did not originate with the Administrative Office of the Courts or any Washington courts.

Jury service is as wonderful a responsibility as it is weighty. You help fulfill the right of defendants to a trial by their peers – a cornerstone of democracy. But it can be onerous, too, particularly for people who can’t afford the time off from their jobs or businesses or from caring for their children or sick loved ones. And nowadays, jury duty is subject to scams and spoofs. Be careful!

And 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.

Bellingham Labelled Drunkest City in the State

What's the Deal With: Bellingham's unofficial slogan?

Informative article by journalist Alyse Smith reports that Bellingham is the drunkest city in the State of Washington. This comes according to a recent report by 24/7 Wall Street, a financial news and opinion website.

The report ranked cities by compiling data on percentages of people over 18 who reported heavy or binge drinking in the area, along with a report of county health rankings and the number of alcohol-related driving deaths.

The report found Bellingham to be the drunkest city in the state, with 22.9 percent of adults reporting to drink excessively, compared to 18 percent statewide. The report also found that Whatcom County had the 13th highest percentage of driving deaths involving alcohol in the state.

The report follows Bellingham’s 17th ranking as the 17th city with most breweries per capita in the United States in 2019 by Food & Wine magazine.

In 2021, Bellingham had one brewery for every 6,153 residents, according to the Visit Bellingham Whatcom County website. These breweries include Boundary Bay Brewery, Structures Brewing, Stemma Brewing Company, Kulshan Brewing Company, El Sueñito Brewing Company, Aslan Brewing Co., Twin Sisters Brewing Company, Wander Brewing, Gruff Brewing Co., Stones Throw Brewing Co., Menace Brewing Co., Otherlands Beer and Larrabee Lager Company.

Whatcom County is also home to other breweries, distilleries and cideries, such as Fringe Brewing, Bellingham Cider Company, Chuckanut Bay Distillery, Bellewood Farms distillery and North Fork Brewery.

My opinion? By all means, enjoy the amenities that Bellingham offers. It’s a wonderful city.

And remember to enjoy and entertain responsibly. There is a strong evidence linking alcohol with Domestic Violence. Various factors are linked to chronic alcohol use and violence. They include psychiatric behavioral issues such as  personality disorders, mood disorders, and intermittent explosive disorders. Individuals prone to aggressive behaviors are more likely to commit impulsive violent crimes, especially under the influence of alcohol.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with an alcohol-related crime. These crimes may include DUI, Assault and/or Domestic Violence. In some cases, the actual substantive defense of Voluntary Intoxication may apply. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Gallup Poll Says More Americans Believe Crime is Becoming Extremely Serious

Is Crime on the Rise? - Point of View - Point of View

Informative article from the Hill journalist Nick Robertson discussed a Gallup poll showing nearly two-thirds of Americans believe crime is an “extremely” or “very” serious problem in the U.S. The 63 percent rate is the highest collected by Gallup, with the previous high of 60 percent found in 2000, 2010 and 2016.

Nationally, about three-quarters of Americans believe crime has gone up. This perspective underlines the tough-on-crime political narrative of conservative politicians. Republicans were significantly more likely to believe that crime is going up nationally. In fact, 92 percent of Republicans hold that belief compared to 58 percent of Democrats. Republican respondents also believed national crime was a more serious issue, 78 percent to 51 percent of Democrats.

Gallup’s self-reporting of crime victimhood has also increased. A fifth of respondents said someone in their household was a victim of a crime this year, near a record high. Most of those reported crimes were vandalism and car break-ins, according to the poll.

But the increase in crime perception could also be a result of frequent messaging about crime through politics and the increase in murders in some cities, which draws attention in media, Gallup said.

Despite an increase in attention, crime is still only the most important issue to 3 percent of Americans, according to a separate Gallup poll, a stark contrast to 1994, when crime was the top issue for more than 40 percent of respondents. The figure hasn’t crossed 10 percent since the recession.

IS IT CRIME OR POVERTY?

It sounds unreal, farfetched, or even crazy to say that “poverty is illegal.” However, the prosecution of poverty is an ongoing issue in our country. When you look at the frequency people are incarcerated because they can’t pay fees for speeding tickets and other small infractions, it’s heartbreaking. There are 2.2 million people locked up on any given day in the U.S. according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).

Countless people living in poverty are forced to plead guilty when they are, in fact, innocent. The injustice happens because they simply cannot afford the legal fees to fight the case against them. Forty-three states charge for a public defender. Fines for less than $200 might keep someone in jail due to the “pay or stay” system. Courts rarely ask if a defendant has the ability to pay rather than their willingness to pay. Overuse of incarceration is negatively impacting families, causes job loss and a myriad of other problems.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Criminal convictions and incarceration are terrible consequences that deeply affect one’s livelihood and family. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

“Rapid Recidivism” Sentencing Aggravator Upheld

Unusual Jail Sentences: When the Punishment Really Fits the Crime - A&E True Crime

In State v. Jackson, the WA Court of Appeals held the Sentencing Aggravator of committing a criminal current offense shortly after release from incarceration on a different criminal conviction was not inappropriate. The sentencing aggravator was not unconstitutionally vague simply because “shortly after” is not defined.  Also, committing Vehicular Homicide and Felony Hit and Run only 93 days after release from incarceration constituted “shortly after.”

BACKGROUND FACTS

On November 11, 2015, Mr. Jackson crashed his vehicle into a large power vault while driving under the influence of alcohol. A passenger in the vehicle died instantly from skull fractures and brain avulsion as a result of the “extremely high speed crash. The vehicle was traveling at nearly 80 miles per hour, significantly higher than the posted 25 mile per hour speed limit, when the collision occurred. Jackson’s blood alcohol content was later calculated to have been between .135g/100mL and .22g/100mL. Jackson fled the scene without reporting the collision or seeking medical care for his passenger. He also evaded police until the next morning, when he “aggressively resisted arrest.”

Following a bench trial, Jackson was convicted of Vehicular Homicide and Felony Hit and Run. The superior court found that these offenses had occurred “shortly after” Jackson’s release from incarceration on August 10, 2015. Accordingly, the court determined that, as to both convictions, the aggravating circumstance of rapid recidivism applied. At the time, Jackson had two prior felony convictions, including a conviction of second degree robbery.

For those who don’t know, Prosecutors can offer evidence of aggravating factors that would merit a harsh sentence during trial. Criminal statutes often identify specific factors that should result in harsher punishments. A common aggravating factor is a prior record of similar convictions. Other aggravating factors typically relate to the circumstances of the offense itself, such as the use of a weapon or the severity of the injuries suffered by a victim. With the exception of prior convictions, a court may not use aggravating factors to impose a harsher sentence than usual unless the jury found those factors to be true beyond a reasonable doubt.

Based on these prior convictions, the sentencing court imposed an exceptional upward sentence on Mr. Jackson based on aggravating factors. It determined that Jackson was a persistent offender and sentenced him to life imprisonment without parole. The court also determined that an exceptional sentence was appropriate and imposed a sentence of 400 months of incarceration.

Jackson appealled, in part, on arguments that the aggravating circumstance of rapid recidivism is unconstitutionally vague. He further asserts that the evidence is insufficient to support a finding that he committed the offenses “shortly after being released from incarceration” under RCW 9.94A.535(3)(t). Thus, he argued, the court erroneously imposed an exceptional sentence based on the rapid recidivism aggravator.

COURT’S ANALYSIS & CONCLUSIONS

The Court of Appeals reasoned that under WA’s Sentencing Aggravator Statute, a sentencing court may impose an aggravated exceptional sentence based on a finding that the defendant committed the current offense shortly after being released from incarceration. It also acknowledged, however, the term “shortly after” is nowhere defined in the statute.

“When a statute does not define terms alleged to be unconstitutionally vague, we may look to existing law, ordinary usage, and the general purpose of the statute to determine whether the statute meets constitutional requirements of clarity,” said the Court of Appeals. It further reasoned that here, Jackson committed the current offenses on November 11, 2015, after being released from incarceration on August 10, 2015—a period of 93 days. He needed to demonstrate that a person of reasonable understanding would have to guess that reoffending 93 days after release from incarceration would subject the defendant to an exceptional sentence pursuant to RCW 9.94A.535(3)(t). “Jackson has not done so,” said the Court of Appeals. “Accordingly, the rapid recidivism aggravator is not unconstitutionally vague as applied to his case.”

Next, the Court of Appeals addressed Jackson’s argument that there was insufficient evidence of the rapid recidivism aggravator because he committed “impulse crimes” that are unrelated to his prior offenses”

“Here, Jackson committed offenses while highly intoxicated that resulted in the violent death of another person. He then sought to avoid accountability by fleeing the scene and aggressively resisting arrest when later discovered. He did so only 93 days after his release from incarceration. Whether Jackson’s conduct constituted rapid recidivism is a question for the finder of fact. Plainly, some rational fact finders could conclude that Jackson committed the current offenses “shortly after” his release from incarceration, and that such conduct evidenced disdain for the law, rendering Jackson particularly culpable in committing those offenses. Accordingly, sufficient evidence supports the resentencing court’s rapid recidivism finding.” ~WA Court of Appeals

With that, the Court of Appeals concluded that Jackson’s claims on appeal were without merit. The Court affirmed his exceptional sentence imposed by the lower court.

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.

State v. Ross: Washington’s Unlawful Possession of a Firearms Statute Is Constitutional

Philadelphia Law Firm, Kenny, Burns & McGill | New District Court Opinion on Felons and Gun Ownership

In State v. Ross, the WA Court of Appeals held that the Second Amendment does not bar the state from criminalizing the possession of firearms by felons. Consequently, Washington’s Unlawful Possession of a Firearms in the First Degree statute is constitutional.

BACKGROUND FACTS

Mr. Ross was convicted of Unlawful Possession of a Firearms in the First Degree. His conviction was based on a prior 2010 conviction for second degree burglary. Unfortunately for Ross, his burglary conviction is a defined “serious offense” under WA’s Sentencing Reform Act.

Ross appealed. He argued that under the Second Amendment and New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n v. Bruen, Washington’s Firearms Statute RCW 9.41.040(1) was unconstitutional as applied.

COURT’S ANALYSIS & CONCLUSIONS

The Court began with a critique of the Second Amendment right to bear arms. The Court recognized, however, that the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. In District of Columbia v. Heller, the U.S. Supreme Court identified several longstanding prohibitions, including possession by felons:

“Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.” ~WA Court of Appeals quoting District of Columbia v. Heller.

Next, the Court of Appeals analayzed the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n v. Bruen. In Bruen, the Supreme Court considered and struck down New York’s regulatory licensing program requiring applicants to prove that they had “proper cause” to carry a handgun in public.

The WA Court of Appeals emphasized that Bruen was intentionally drafted to be limited in its scope. As a result, Bruen did not overrule Washington’s own time-stested caselaw on the subject matter:

“Indeed, at least 11 times the majority referenced the Second Amendment right of “law-abiding” citizens . . . Of the six justices in the majority, three wrote or joined in concurring opinions clarifying the scope of their decision. We hold that consistent with Heller, McDonald, and Bruen, the Second Amendment does not bar the state from prohibiting the possession of firearms by felons as it has done in RCW 9.41.040(1). RCW 9.41.040(1) is facially constitutional.” ~WA Court of Appeals.

Next the WA Court of Appeals adressed Ross’s argument that because his underlying crime of second degree burglary was nonviolent,  RCW 9.41.040(1) was unconstitutional as applied.

“We disagree for two reasons,” said the Court. First, Ross’s attempt to distinguish violent and nonviolent felons is of his own construct. There are no prior court opinions distinguishing violent felons from nonviolent felons. Second, the legislature has defined second degree burglary as a violent crime:

“The prohibition on possession of firearms under RCW 9.41.040(1)(a) applies to any person previously convicted of “any serious offense.” A “serious offense” is defined by the same statute to include “[a]ny crime of violence.” RCW 9.41.010(42)(a). And a “crime of violence” is defined to include burglary in the second degree . . . Ross offers no support for the proposition that the legislature did not intend to define burglary in the second degree as a serious offense and a crime of violence.” ~WA Court of Appeals

With that, the WA Court of Appeals upheld Mr. Ross’s conviction.

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.

Backlog of WA Rape Kits Eliminated

Oklahoma awarded grant to address rape kit backlog | KOKH

In a press release, State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced that the last of more than 10,000 sexual assault kits have been cleared from shelves and sent to labs for testing. This marks a major milestone for the Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative. Washington’s backlog of rape kits has effectively been eliminated.

According to the press release, clearing the backlog and testing the kits has helped solve at least 21 sexual assault cases. The testing has resulted in more than 2,100 “hits” in the national DNA database, known as CODIS. A hit occurs when a DNA sample matches an individual or another case in the database, which generally consists of offenders.

“Effectively ending our sexual assault kit backlog is a historic step toward justice — but our work on behalf of survivors is not done. Through this collective effort, we ensured that survivors’ voices are heard, reformed a broken system, improved testing times, and solved crimes. This success proves that government can solve big problems when we work together. We are committed to working with our partners in law enforcement to prevent any more backlogs so we have the best chance of solving these serious crimes.” ~WA Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

In short, all 10,134 backlogged sexual assault kits found in the office’s inventory have been tested or submitted to a private lab for testing. The Washington State Patrol is still reviewing approximately 1,000 tested kits, many of which will be added to CODIS. That process should be completed by the end of the year.

Ferguson has worked with local law enforcement to collect DNA samples from registered sex offenders, violent offenders and individuals convicted of serious felonies who failed to comply with a legal obligation to provide their DNA. As a result, more than 2,000 new profiles have been added to the national DNA database.

Forensic genetic genealogy grants from Ferguson’s office have helped solve multiple cold cases across the state. The Attorney General’s Office has also provided more than $177,000 in grants to 53 local law enforcement agencies across the state with funding for refrigeration units to store evidence from sexual assault investigations.

Statute of Limitations

Given Washington’s backlog, a potential defense to sex offense charges is that the filing violates the Statute of limitations (SOL).

The statute of limitations is a statute that sets the maximum amount of time after an incident that the plaintiff has to initiate legal proceedings. Simply put, the statute of limitations sets the time limit that the State has to criminally charge the defendant. In 2019, Washington changed its statute of limitation (SOL) laws for sex offenses. Here’s a quick summary of SOL’s for specific offenses.

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.