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Seattle Criminal Defense Law Blog

What are the domestic violence laws and policies in Washington?

If you have been accused of domestic violence in Washington State, you need to know exactly what you are accused of. There are also important legal policies you should be aware of.

How does Washington define domestic violence?

Under the Revised Code of Washington Section 10.99.020, domestic violence is defined as (but not limited to) any of 23 specific criminal offenses against a family or household member. The specific offenses include:

In terror case, how do we know whether threats were just talk?

Last July, a 23-year-old man named Amer A. pled guilty to providing material support to terrorists. We'd all like to believe that the guilty plea got a dangerous person off the streets. Unfortunately, people plead guilty of a wide variety of reasons, including intense pressure from prosecutors to make a deal or face a much harsher sentence at trial. Now, Amer is up for sentencing -- but what if what he did was talk?

The prosecution has asked for a sentence of 33 years plus lifetime probation. The defense asked the judge to follow a probation officer's recommendations and give him just four years followed by three years of probation.

False confessions led to convictions for the 'Norfolk 4'

In 1997, Michelle Moore-Bosko's husband discovered her body, raped, stabbed and strangled, in the apartment they shared. He had been at sea the previous week. The police immediately identified a neighbor, Navy sailor Danial Williams, as the prime suspect because he reportedly had a crush on the victim.

Williams confessed to the crime, as did four other men. Williams, along with three other sailors, Eric Wilson, Joseph Dick and Derek Tice, say they were coerced into those confessions. One described a police detective shoving him into a corner and confronting him with a photo of the victim's bloody body. The four, now known as "the Norfolk Four," say they were repeatedly called liars and threatened with the death penalty. They say they simply cracked under pressure.

The First Step Act offers bipartisan criminal justice reform

It's not every day that the American Civil Liberties Union and President Trump agree on legislation, but groups from across the political spectrum have come together to support the federal First Step Act. The bill promises significant reforms to both federal criminal sentencing and to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. What would the law do?

Finally end the 100:1 sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine

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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