Tag Archives: Skagit County Criminal Defense

Ending Money Bond

VICTORY: Illinois Just Passed the Pretrial Fairness Act and Ended Money Bail  – Chicago Council of Lawyers

Illinois is poised to become the first state in the country to end the use of wealth-based pre-trial detention. The change has been a long time in the making – so long that one of the first organizers working to change the Illinois bail system six years ago got elected to the state senate and became a co-sponsor of the Pre-trial Fairness Act.

In courtrooms across the US, pre-trial release payments, called bond or bail, create dual systems of justice – one for the wealthy who can pay their way out of pre-trial incarceration and another for those who can’t afford it. Studies have also shown that hundreds of thousands of Americans like Mayes end up pleading guilty or receiving harsher sentences because of unaffordable bonds, whether or not they are guilty.

My opinion? Let’s see what happens. Numerous studies have shown that bail does little to achieve its intended purpose of ensuring court attendance – people released on their own recognizance were just as likely to come back to court for their trials as people who posted money bond and no more likely to reoffend awaiting trial.

Wealth-based detention is at its core, a racial justice issue. Across the country, Black, Latino and indigenous people are detained pre-trial at far higher rates than people of other ethnicities. If given a money bail, Black people receive significantly higher bail than all other ethnic and racial groups and are less likely to be able to post the bail amount. Bail is usually set by judges in less than a minute and people with almost identical charges are often assigned bails that differ by tens of thousands of dollars.

Please read my Legal Guide titled Making Bail and 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.

Covid & Drug Overdoses

Coronavirus Leads to More Drug Overdose Deaths · Napoli Shkolnik

Excellent article by Adriana Belmonte of yahoo!news reports that the Coronavirus Pandemic has had devastating mental health effects on Americans, and drug abuse is hitting record levels.

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that over 81,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the U.S. in the 12-month period ending in May 2020. That’s the highest number ever recorded by the CDC.

“This pandemic and all that’s come along with it has really just exacerbated those vulnerabilities and the shortcomings of our own approach to treating those people.” ~Dr. Ryan Marino, a medical toxicologist and emergency physician based out of Ohio.

Ms. Belmonte reports that in San Francisco, the number of overdose deaths (621) outpaced COVID-related deaths (173) in 2020. And more than 40 states reported annual increases in opioid overdose deaths, “as well as ongoing concerns for those with a mental illness or substance use disorder,” according to the American Medical Association.

According to Belmonte, a CDC survey in June found that 40.9% of Americans reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition, with 13.3% of respondents having started or increased substance use to cope with stress or emotions related to COVID-19:

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member face criminal allegations such as Drug Charges, Assault or Domestic Violence. Chances are, the various compounding stresses brought by the Coronavirus Pandemic could factor into the allegations. Hiring and experienced and effective criminal defense attorney is the first and best step towards justice.

DUI’s Raise Insurance

Best Car Insurance Options After A DUI

Great article by Andrew Hammond of the Tacoma News Tribune says that according to the Northwest Insurance Council, extra patrols will be deployed to look out for impaired motorists this holiday season. And unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there.

Hammond also reports that NW Insurance Council President Kenton Brine said, “Long after the arrest, conviction, possible jail time and fines, the consequences of having a DUI citation can continue to increase the cost of insurance for offenders.”

“To an insurer, having a DUI indicates a highly risky driving history, which is a primary factor insurers use to determine auto insurance premiums. Insurance companies may review a motor vehicle report upon renewal of an auto policy to discover any citations, including a DUI. Drivers with an infraction for DUI would likely see a premium increase or surcharge, or their policy may not be renewed.”  ~Kenton Brine, President of the Northwest Insurance Council.

DUIs can be caused by the use of marijuana, prescription drugs and even over-the-counter drugs like Nyquil and Ambien as well as alcohol.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family face alcohol-related charges as a result of holiday parties. Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney is the first and best step towards justice.

Average Washingtonian Drinks Six Days in a Row During Holidays

Infographic: Drinking and DUIs During the Holidays

A survey from the Addiction-treatment.com shows that among 3,000 state residents 21 and older, the average Washingtonian drinks for six days in a row over the holiday season, without having a day off. It could be wine, beer, cider, or whatever a particular person’s choice is.

That puts Washington drinkers at the top of the list of states, according to the group. The average American drinks for four days in a row over the holidays, it says.

Some may be drinking to celebrate the end of 2020 but others may be drinking due to loneliness, depression and isolation. Here’s some other highlights from the organization’s 12 Days of Christmas infographic:

  • Almost half of respondents say drinking at Christmas is a family tradition.
  • Over 1 in 3 say they give alcohol as a gift to loved ones at Christmas.
  • A quarter admit they spike their morning coffee with alcohol during the holidays.

“It’s important that people not use the pandemic or the holidays to justify excessive drinking,” Brittney Morse, a spokesperson for Addiction-Treatment.com, said in a statement.

“We know that overindulgence in alcohol can start the process for bad habits and lead to unhealthy coping skills that could ultimately result in alcohol dependence. Now is a great time to establish new, healthy traditions that are not centered around the consumption of alcohol. This ensures every family member, even those in recovery, can enjoy the holiday traditions together.” ~Brittney Morse, a spokesperson for Addiction-Treatment.com

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a drug crime or alcohol-related crime over the holidays. The temptation to imbibe is especially pronounced these days due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney is the first and best step towards justice.

Prosecuting Poverty?

Seattle considers excusing misdemeanor crimes if they can be linked to poverty

Should we be prosecuting poverty? Great article by of KUOW reports that Seattle lawmakers are considering a law that would excuse suspects from most misdemeanor crimes if they can be linked to poverty or mental illness.

If approved, it would make the Emerald City the nation’s first to have such a measure on the books.

“Good prosecutors don’t take any satisfaction in prosecuting that type of offense.” ~Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes

The Seattle City Council said the proposal, crafted with input from local public defenders, would excuse suspects from minor crimes like theft, trespassing, or assault — but not in cases of domestic violence or DUI, KUOW-TV reported.

“In a situation where you took that sandwich because you were hungry and you were trying to meet your basic need of satisfying your hunger, we as a community will know that we should not punish that,” Anita Khandelwal, King County Director of Public Defense, told KUOW. “That conduct is excused.”

Anita Khandelwal said the “poverty defense” isn’t meant to ignore the needs of businesses and others harmed by these offenses. She said the current system doesn’t provide them redress either, and it does more harm to offenders.

“It’s meeting nobody’s needs. This is not that we don’t care about the business community or about people who have experienced harm. It is that we know that this process – this processing of human beings through the system – is harmful to our clients and again very racially disproportionate, and also not getting business owners what they need either.” ~ Anita Khandelwal, King County Director of Public Defense,

The push comes as crime has spiked in Seattle this year, including during the Capitol Hill Occupied Zone protests in the city, Fox affiliate WSFX-TV reported.

At the same time, the city’s homeless population has risen by 5 percent since last year. However, not everyone in the Northwest city is on board with the proposed law change.

“It sends this powerful signal that as a city government, we don’t really care about this type of criminal behavior in our city,” former city councilman Tim Burgess told KUOW.

Burgess called the proposal “a defense lawyer’s dream.” Briefing documents say the Council would need to define whether the new affirmative defense applies only to someone meeting immediate basic needs, like stealing a sandwich in order to eat, or to items that are stolen for resale “so the defendant can pay rent.” Herbold says her committee will continue its work on the proposal in January.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime like Theft, Possession of  Stolen Motor Vehicle, etc., and the Poverty Defense might apply. Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Twitch Cracks Down on Hate Speech & Harassment

Hard Questions: Where Do We Draw the Line on Free Expression? - About Facebook

Great article by reporter of the New York Times reports that Livestreaming platform Twitch stops hate speech by releasing updates to its Hateful Conduct and Harassment Policy aimed at better protecting its community of gamers and users from hate speech, sexual harassment and other harmful online attacks.

“We know that many people on Twitch — particularly women, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, Black, Indigenous, and people of color — unfortunately continue to experience a disproportionate amount of harassment and abuse online, including on our service. . . Not only is this blatantly unacceptable, it also undermines the community we’re building on Twitch and threatens the long term viability of streaming as a career for everyone who wishes to pursue it.” ~Twitch Post Regarding Updates to Its Hateful Conduct and Harassment Policies

The changes make several aspects of Twitch’s current policy clearer and more explicit, banning actions like encouraging people to doxx another user, repeatedly commenting on someone’s physical appearance if you’ve been asked to stop, or displaying the Confederate flag.

The new policy will take effect on Jan. 22, 2021. Until then, Twitch’s team will continue to moderate content using its existing guidelines, the post said.

Interesting.

Apparently, Twitch is responding to the call for more and better moderation/management of its online platforms. In all likelihood, the recent presidential elections ushered an increase in all types of harassment, including Hate Crimes and Felony Harassment. These crimes are felonies in the State of Washington.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family are charged with Hate Crimes and Felony Harassment. Not all commentary is abusive, bullying and/or hate speech. Indeed, most content is protected by the First Amendment. Hiring an experienced and effective criminal defense attorney is the first and best step towards justice.

Survey Finds Binge Drinking Increased Nearly 20% Every Week of COVID Lockdowns

Study: Binge Drinking Increases With Every Lockdown Week - InsideHook

Apparently, binge drinking increases during Coronavirus lockdowns. According to a survey, adults consume more alcohol when lodged in their homes during coronavirus lockdowns.

Nearly 2,000 Americans over 18 years old completed the online questionnaire. It identified binge drinkers as those who consume five or more drinks within two hours for men and four or more drinks for women within the same period.

The survey found that the odds of consuming heavy amounts of alcohol jumped an extra 19% every week of lockdown.

“Increased time spent at home is a life stressor that impacts drinking and the COVID-19 pandemic may have exacerbated this stress,” ~survey/study author Sitara Weerakoon, an epidemiology PhD candidate at the University of Texas.

On average, every respondent was in lockdown for four weeks, spending 21 hours at home each day, with the majority (72%) working from home. Survey participants’ average age was 42, with the majority being white and female.

The odds of picking up a bottle of booze among binge drinkers were more than double that of regular alcohol consumers — 60% and 28%, respectively, according to the survey.

Binge drinkers also reported downing four drinks per drinking session, sometimes drinking a maximum of seven drinks. Meanwhile, regular alcohol drinkers consumed an average of two drinks per session, often capping out after that second beverage.

The researchers also found that living with children reduced the odds of drinking by 26% for people, in general, the release said.

My opinion? The Coronavirus Pandemic – mixed with the holiday season and the general uncertainty of politics and rampant unemployment – seems to have Americans turning to alcohol. Unfortunately, Domestic Violence and DUI cases tend to rise in situations like these.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member face criminal charges and alcohol is a factor. Hiring an experienced and effective criminal defense attorney is the first and best step towards justice.

The Consequences of Arrest Leads to Different Outcomes for Black, White Youth

Why are black kids arrested more often than white kids?C-VILLE Weekly

For black youth, the Consequences of Arrest by eighth grade predicts they will be arrested by young adulthood – but the same is not true for white youth, a new University of Washington study finds.

The study, titled, The Usual, Racialized, Suspects: The Consequences of Police Contacts with Black and White Youth on Adult Arrest, finds that Black young adults are 11 times more likely to be arrested by age 20 if they had an initial encounter with law enforcement in their early teens than Black youth who don’t have that first contact.

In contrast, white young adults with early police contact are not significantly more likely to be arrested later, compared with white peers without that history.

The study also found that Black youth are more likely than white youth to be treated as “usual suspects” after a first encounter with police, leading to subsequent arrests over time. Even as white young adults report engaging in significantly more illegal behavior, Black young adults face more criminal penalties, the study finds.

Researchers also said it’s not just the number of stops, but what transpires during a police stop that sets the tone for future interactions with police.

“What we know about police contacts and youth generally is that Black youth are more likely to be stopped by police to begin with, and are more likely to have a negative experience when that happens,” said first author Annie McGlynn-Wright, a postdoctoral fellow at Tulane University who led the study while pursuing her doctorate at the UW. “What we haven’t known previously is the long-term effects of police contacts in terms of criminal justice outcomes.”

Racial differences in who is stopped, why and for what penalty have been well documented, the researchers said. Also, police stops have been linked to individuals’ later run-ins with law enforcement.

While the data was collected in Seattle, researchers say the patterns they found are likely occurring in cities around the country — Seattle is “more like every other town” than some larger metro areas like Chicago and Philadelphia, where many criminal justice studies are located, noted co-author Robert Crutchfield, a professor emeritus of sociology at the UW.

“When police interact with communities, and young people in communities, they have to be especially mindful of the nature and substance of the encounters, and police really need training to avoid negative interactions. What we found is that contact matters. In this study, we couldn’t parse out the nature of the interactions, but I suspect most kids experienced the interaction in a negative way. The message is, cops need to do better to minimize unnecessary contacts, and when they do contact people, to treat them better.” ~Robert Crutchfield, UW Professor Emeritus of Sociology.

For this study, UW researchers wanted to examine the effects of the first stop on the lives of Black and white adolescents, and whether a stop in the early teen years is associated with “secondary sanctioning,” or a “usual suspects” treatment by police that plays out over future stops and/or arrests. The study is among the first to explore the racial differences in police contact over time.

It also comes during a period of significant reckoning over race and policing in the United States, after a series of law enforcement killings of Black people around the country. As communities grapple with how to address institutionalized racism, police procedures and accountability, many school districts, including Seattle, have ended their contracts with law enforcement agencies for school resource officers, the personnel who are assigned to specific school buildings. Research has shown that students of color are disproportionately subject to discipline and monitoring by school resource officers.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged and arrested and race might play a factor in the charges. Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Animal Cruelty Has Risen

Tabby Cat with sad looking eyes

Animal Cruelty Has Risen. According to the Seattle Times and Q13 Fox Seattle, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office had filed 19 animal cruelty cases so far this year. These case include 12 counts of first-degree felony animal cruelty. In comparison, the office filed only nine cases in 2019 and 10 in 2018.

King County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Tali Smith chimed in on the subject.

“It’s concerning when we’re filing (more cases) in one month this year … than (all of) last year,” she said. And we’re concerned about these animals and the neglect or violence they’re suffering from.”

The office has also filed two felony animal fighting charges, the most recent case involving 91 roosters.

“My guess is that the pandemic has been hard on a lot of people, both in terms of their resources and their mental health. And so it’s kind of a pressure-cooker situation. You have people that are angry and they’re at home a lot. That anger can be taken out on an animal.” ~King County Deputy Prosecutor Tali Smith.

Smith added, however, that there’s no definitive evidence of the coronavirus pandemic’s effect on animal abuse cases.

“It’s just what we know about people, what we know about violence and these cases,” she said. “And we’ve seen violence increase in the other areas of our office. It makes sense that with this other vulnerable population, we also see an increase.”

Prosecutors are reporting animal cruelty cases in King County, like cases in other categories of crime such as homicides, domestic violence and shootings, have increased this year, raising concern among law enforcement and animal agencies and prompting them to remind residents to report any issues they might see involving animal care.

The prosecuting attorney’s office filed 1,103 felony domestic violence cases between January and October, including assaults and homicides – an increase from the 983 cases filed during the same period last year.

The increase in animal cruelty cases has also worried prosecutors who have studied the connection between violence against animals and violence against people, Smith said.

According to the news articles, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, which aims to protect animals in the legal system, said animal abusers are five times as likely to also harm people. The organization references a 2013 study that found 43% of people involved in “school massacres” have also committed violence against animals, usually dogs and cats.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family face Animal Abuse charges. Hiring an experienced and effective criminal defense attorney is the first and best step towards justice.

President-elect Joe Biden on the U.S. Drug Epidemic

Joe Biden says he 'regrets' supporting 'tough-on-crime' drug laws in 1990s as he considers presidential bid | The Independent | The Independent

Excellent article in Politico by staff reporters Dan Goldberg and Brianna Ehley discusses how President-elect Joe Biden will emphasize drug treatment and prevention, not law enforcement, in addressing a drug epidemic that’s only grown more dire during the Coronavirus Pandemic.

According to the article, Biden will take office at a crucial moment in the fight against drug addiction. Some states are contending with double-digit spikes in overdose deaths, sparse public health workforces are already stretched thin fighting the coronavirus and widening budget deficits brought on by the pandemic could force states to make painful cutbacks to public services.

Also, more than 76,000 people died of a drug overdose between April 2019 and April 2020, according to the most recent preliminary federal data, the most ever recorded during a 12-month period. Federal health officials say the drug crisis has only been amplified by months of social isolation, high unemployment and the diversion of resources to combat the virus.

Biden, who often spoke during the campaign about his son Hunter’s struggles with substance abuse, has called for record investments in drug prevention and treatment while also holding drug companies accountable for their role in the opioid epidemic.

According to the article, it’s staggering how much the pandemic has exacerbated the drug crisis this year. Ohio recorded 543 overdose deaths in May, the most ever in a single month. Overdose deaths in the state this year may even surpass a record 4,800 in 2017, said Dennis Cauchon, president of Harm Reduction Ohio.

“I never thought we could top 2017 levels of death and I was wrong . . . It’s a slaughter out there.” ~Dennis Cauchon, president of Harm Reduction Ohio.

Oregon reported a 70 percent increase in the number of overdose deaths in April and May compared to the same two months in 2019. In Maine, overdose deaths during the first half of 2020 were up 27 percent from the previous year. Spikes have also been documented in Colorado, Kentucky and Louisiana.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member face drug charges. The search and seizure of the drugs may have violated the defendant’s Constitutional rights. Hiring an experienced and effective criminal defense attorney is the first and best step towards justice.