Mar. 31—Whitman County officers are apprehensive in regards to the ripple results of a latest Washington State Supreme Court docket choice they worry may improve drug use and different crimes.
In State v. Blake, the Supreme Court docket struck down the state’s felony drug possession legislation as a result of it doesn’t require proof that the defendant knowingly possessed the drug. It dominated that arrests for easy possession are unconstitutional.
Whitman County Prosecutor Denis Tracy advised the Whitman County Commissioners on Monday this choice means all instances going again 50 years for easy possession of a managed substance will likely be vacated and the fees dismissed.
He stated individuals arrested for different crimes can also see their sentence lowered if that sentence was primarily based partly on their historical past of drug possession.
“That sentence will likely be invalid and need to be redone,” he stated.
Tracy stated this example has already occurred in Whitman County. One particular person convicted of theft and one other convicted of rape noticed their sentences lowered.
Tracy fears State v. Blake will result in extra individuals utilizing medicine, together with juveniles, in addition to extra overdoses. Moreover, he fears it should result in a rise in crimes related to drug use, resembling petty theft, automobile prowls and burglaries.
“It is an enormous concern,” he stated.
Whitman County can be involved in regards to the workload this may place on the native court docket system. With fees being vacated, Tracy stated, defendants will be refunded all the cash they paid in fines, prices and costs.
It’s unclear whether or not the state or the county must pay again that cash to the defendant, he stated.
Whitman County Clerk Jill Whelchel stated coping with all the clerical work because of this choice will overload her employees. On Monday, she requested the commissioners to think about funding one other employees member to deal with this downside.
Tracy stated there’s a movement for reconsideration in entrance of the State Supreme Court docket. The Legislature can be placing forth payments to counter the choice.
In line with a March 26 information launch from Rep. Joe Schmick (R-Colfax), Home Invoice 1562 would enable native governments to enact legal guidelines and ordinances regarding possession of managed substances and counterfeit substances.
Home Invoice 1561 would develop offenses and penalties for manufacture, sale, distribution, and different conduct involving managed substances and counterfeit substances.
Sen. Mark Schoesler (R-Ritzville) has sponsored a invoice making it illegal for somebody to knowingly possess a managed substance.
Tracy hopes the Legislature will proceed preventing the Supreme Court docket choice.
“If the Legislature does not do something, disgrace on them,” he stated.
Tracy stated he hopes the Whitman County Commissioners will go an ordinance to make possession of managed substances unlawful within the county if wanted.
Commissioner Artwork Swannack stated the Board of Commissioners have briefly mentioned this problem and agreed it’s keen to go an ordinance.
“There’s simply nothing good about this one,” Swannack stated of the Supreme Court docket choice.
He stated the results of possessing onerous medicine resembling methamphetamine are too nice.
“These are medicine that, one time you mess up, you are lifeless,” he stated.
Anthony Kuipers will be reached at email@example.com.