Washington Death Penalty Ruled Unconstitutional

Washington’s death penalty laws have been declared unconstitutional not once, not twice, but three times.  The Washington State Supreme Court did so again on October 11, 2018.

The defendant, Allen Gregory was convicted of multiple heinous crimes in 1996. He viciously raped, robbed, and murdered the victim. He was found guilty and the jury presided over the penalty phase of his trial. They determined there was not enough mitigating circumstances to merit leniency and sentenced him to death.

The Court did not rule that the death penalty is per se unconstitutional.  However, they declared the death penalty was invalid because it is imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased manner.  The Court stated, “ While this particular case provides an opportunity to specifically address racial disproportionality, the underlying issues that underpin our holding are rooted in the arbitrary manner in which the death penalty is generally administered.”  Mr. Gregory, the Defendant, argued the use of the death penalty is unequally applied—sometimes by where the crime took place, or the county of residence, or the available budgetary resources at any given point in time, or the race of the defendant. The Court agreed and held that the death penalty, as administered in our state, fails to serve any legitimate penological goal; thus, it violates article I, section 14 of our state constitution.

 

Changes to Driver’s Licenses and ID Cards

Changes to Driver’s Licenses and ID Cards

Beginning July 2018, changes will be coming to all new licenses and all renewals or replacements after that date. All standard licenses will have ‘FEDERAL LIMITS APPLY” at the top of each card which will indicate the license is not valid for federal purposes. Starting in October 2020, standard Washington licenses and ID cards will no longer be accepted as ID for federal purposes. This includes air travel. Enhanced licenses are still valid for this purpose. Adding “FEDERAL LIMITS APPLY” helps Washington State comply with REAL ID. The REAL ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005, enacted the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the Federal Government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.” The government believes secure driver’s licenses are a vital component of our national security and is requiring compliance from every State.

The DRIVES system will be another change beginning September 4, 2018. This means all new and renewed licenses will receive a different number. These will start with “WDL” followed by random alphabetical letters and numbers. This new system enables DOL to have more combinations to choose for new licenses. It also is more secure because it does not use the name or birth date.

These changes are expected to take six years to be completed. The slow change is expected to help drivers get used to the new format.

 

Court Overturns DUI Conditions

Overturned DUI ConditionsPeople arrested and accused of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) are required to abide by conditions until the case is resolved.  The conditions normally include not to drive without a valid license and insurance, not to have any other law violations, and not to consume alcohol.  Some courts in Washington imposed an additional requirement to submit to random urinalysis tests as a condition of release.  The Washington State Supreme court ruled on October 5, 2017 that forcing a urinalysis as a pre-trial release condition is unconstitutional and constitutes an acute privacy invasion by the Government.

My favorite quote from the Supreme Court states, “it is difficult to imagine an affair more private than the passing of urine…..Most people describe euphemisms if they talk about it at all.  It is a function traditionally performed without public observation; indeed, its performance in public is generally prohibited by law as well as social custom.”

The Court should be applauded for holding the government in check and protecting our privacy interests!

Prostitution Sting by Seattle Police Catches All Walks of Life

What to expect if arrested for Soliciting a Prostitute?

Attorneys, surgeons, architects, nurses, journalist, and a dentist were among the two hundred men arrested in a massage parlor sting operation by the Seattle Police Department over the past few weeks. The police set up a massage parlor in Seattle and undercover female officers offered a massage and a sex act for a fee.

They will be criminally charged with “sexual exploitation” under Seattle Municipal Code 12A.10.040. A person is guilty of sexual exploitation if:

  1. Pursuant to a prior understanding, he or she pays a fee to another person as compensation for such person or a third having engaged in sexual conduct with him or her; or
  2. He or she pays or agrees to pay a fee to another person pursuant to an understanding that in return therefor such person will engage in sexual conduct with him or her; or
  3. He or she solicits or requests another person to engage in sexual contact with him or her in return for a fee.

The Seattle Municipal Court adopted the above referenced language from the Washington State Code (RCW). A person can be charged in District Court under the State Code for the same offense but it would be called “patronizing a prostitute” pursuant to RCW 9A.88.110. Regardless, the charges are misdemeanor offenses and the maximum penalty is 90 days in jail.

ADDITIONAL PENALTIES FOR SEXUAL EXPLOITATION

The court will impose the following penalties and restrictions if convicted:

  1. Biological sample collected for DNA identification
  1. DNA fee is $100
  1. Geographical restrictions near location of the crime
  2. Complete an educational program about the negative impact of prostitution
  3. One Thousand Five Hundred dollar fee for first offense
    1. $2,500 for second offense
    2. $5,000 for third offense
  4. Additional court fine up to $1,000.

Revenue from the fees are deposited into the Sex Industry Victims Fund and used for education including John Schools, rehabilitative services for victims, and for local law police efforts including Vice Enforcement.

Fortunately, a conviction does not require a person to register as a sex offender. An arrest can be an embarrassing experience but it does not have to ruin
your life.

Defense attorneys should be advocating for entry into a deferred sentence, a deferred prosecution, or a diversion agreement. The goal is to ultimately have the case dismissed upon completion of the agreed upon requirements. It’s critical to be proactive and seek representation. Contact the Law Office of Michael P. Sheehy, PLLC to learn about your options, available defenses, and how to avoid a conviction.

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