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Seattle Criminal Defense Law Blog

SCOTUS to decide sex offenders' right to trial on new charges

When a convicted sex offender on supervised release is accused of a new offense, how should they be sentenced? Should the penalty be the one for violating their supervised release terms, or should they be sentenced as if they had been convicted of the new offense?

In 2010, Andre H. was convicted of federal child pornography offenses. He was sentenced to three years in prison and 10 years of supervised release. A couple of years into his supervised release period, probation officers launched a surprise raid of his apartment. They seized his cellphone and several computers. The officers discovered several -- perhaps five -- images that they deemed to be child pornography, along with evidence that Andre had been searching online for sexually explicit material (which generally isn't illegal).

It's unjust to charge teens as felons for sexting with peers

Both adults and teens engage in sexting, or the exchange of sexually explicit messages and images by cellphone or over the internet. Some surveys put the rate of adult sexting at between 15 and 22 percent. Among teens, perhaps 20 and 28 percent have engaged in sexting. Of those who had, about 70 percent were sexting with an intimate partner.

It's not particularly surprising. Between consenting adults, the activity is perfectly legal, and many teens don't know they're doing anything illegal. Teens are just learning about adult relationships and are exploring their own sexual needs and desires. Sexting probably strikes many as a naughty, titillating way to show your trust in your romantic partner. What it does not sound like is child pornography.

Is Washington's death penalty imposed in a racially biased way?

The death penalty in Washington has been found unconstitutional three times in the past, and the Washington Supreme Court just found the same thing again. It did not find that the imposition of the death penalty was inherently unconstitutional. "The death penalty is invalid," the court found instead, "because it is imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased manner." Therefore, it violates both the U.S. and Washington constitutions' prohibitions on cruel punishment.

The decision came in the case of Allen Eugene Gregory, a man who was convicted of robbing, raping and murdering a 43-year-old woman in 1996 and then sentenced to death. Finding that, as currently applied, Washington's death penalty "fails to serve any legitimate penological goal," the high court converted the sentences of eight death row inmates, including Gregory, to life sentences.

What can a person face when accused of indecent exposure?

Being accused of making an obscene exposure to someone can cause major problems for a person. It can open the door to impactful criminal charges.

For one, depending on the circumstances and what part of Washington a person was in, allegations related to nudity might lead to charges of violating local ordinances.

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