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Seattle Criminal Law Blog

A new law will lower the number of teens tried as adults

A new Washington state law will lower the number of teenagers tried as adults for violent crimes. The law will also permit young people up to the age of 25 who have committed certain types of crimes to be tried under the juvenile court system.

The juvenile justice system reform, which one lawmaker referred to as a "seismic shift," will radically transform the processing of young people who face criminal charges relating to violent crimes. The excitement for the reform centers around data that shows young people tried as adults tend to have a dramatically higher chance of becoming repeat offenders in the future compared to young people tried under the juvenile justice system.

Federal law enforcement focuses on fraud cases

Federal law enforcement agencies are using additional strategies to scrutinize reported fraud and other white-collar offenses in Seattle and across the country. As part of a recent presentation by Department of Justice, Securities and Exchange Commission and Federal Bureau of Investigation officials, speakers noted that they are focusing heavily on investigating reports that concern low-level, retail investors. While projects like cryptocurrency hold vast potential for growth and wealth, they warned that inexperienced investors were being coaxed into fraudulent schemes instead. The SEC noted that accounting fraud and Ponzi schemes are some of the major concerns being pursued by its Retail Strategy Task Force.

This force has also stepped up its use of data analytics to investigate reports of fraud over the internet. Many stock and investment schemes largely take place online, so technology can be an important part of revealing those involved in these kinds of activities. The SEC is investigating the sale of stolen insider information, market manipulation, fake or dubious initial coin offerings (ICOs) and other schemes. In order to detect these schemes, the SEC is using software that analyzes trading patterns, looking for suspicious activity.

NFL practice squad player suspected of DUI

Washington residents have likely read many media reports about promising athletes who ran into problems after a brush with the law. The latest such story involves a 25-year-old football player who earned himself a place on the Los Angeles Rams practice squad but now faces an uncertain future. According to reports, the player's career prospects were dealt a damaging blow on Sept. 16 when police officers in California took him into custody on drunk driving and hit-and-run charges.

Police officers in Simi Valley were sent to the intersection of Royal Avenue and Sinaloa at approximately 6:27 p.m. to investigate reports of a possible drunk driver. Several 911 callers are said to have described a vehicle being driven in a reckless manner that had struck a number of objects including a bus stop sign. Reports indicate that the vehicle in question was pulled over a short time later on El Monte Drive.

DUI charges filed against actor Vince Vaughn

Moviegoers in Washington may recognize actor Vince Vaughn from comedies like "Wedding Crashers," but the 48-year-old actor will likely not find the criminal charges stemming from his DUI arrest in June amusing. Although he was not originally charged after posting bail and leaving jail, prosecutors have decided to charge him with driving under the influence of alcohol. Additionally, he faces charges of driving with a blood-alcohol content of .08 or higher, refusing to cooperate with a police officer and not submitting to an inspection.

His arrest occurred at a sobriety checkpoint on June 10 that he encountered while driving with a male passenger. According to the police report, Vaughn would not get out of his vehicle despite repeated requests from law enforcement officers, and he was eventually arrested.

Man facing serious charges after ordering MDMA online

A 20-year-old Washington man was charged Aug. 31 with leading organized crime for having his friends receive postal shipments of MDMA, a party drug frequently known as ecstasy. While this charge may lead people to think of someone involved with gangs or other traditional forms of organized crime, he instead asked his friends to receive mail packages containing the drug that he ordered over the internet. He then allegedly sold the drugs to a student at the University of Washington in Seattle.

The man asked his friends to have the packages delivered to their homes because he still lives with his parents and did not want them to find the controlled substances. However, the scheme went awry when customs agents X-rayed incoming packages. They found 200 grams of MDMA inside a DVD case addressed to one of the man's friends. Because of the relatively small quantities involved, federal investigators referred the case to local authorities for further investigation. Police soon identified the man who had asked his friends to receive the packages, telling them not to open them when they arrived.

Court rules in favor of man in gun rights case

Washington residents who are convicted on a felony charge could lose their gun rights. However, if they do not commit another crime within five years after the conviction, they are allowed to petition for their gun rights to be restored. This is true even if they are convicted of another crime after five years has passed, according to the Washington Supreme Court.

It ruled 6-3 in favor of a man who was sentenced for robbery and assault in the 1990s. In 2014, the man was charged with negligent driving, and a lower court cited that charge as the reason why his 2016 petition to restore his gun rights was denied. However, since he had no criminal charges in the five years after his felony conviction, he was entitled under state law to ask that he be allowed to possess firearms again.

Raising age of juvenile court jurisdiction could help youth

In April 2018, a change hit Washington. The age limit for juvenile jurisdiction was raised from 21 to 25 for certain crimes. A new law also reduces the risk of 16- and 17-year-olds moving into the adult criminal justice system.

If you're a parent, this is exciting news, particularly if your child has been in trouble with the law. Governor Jay Inslee signed legislation to remove a number of crimes from an auto-decline list and opens them back up for jurisdiction in the juvenile court system. Previously, people who committed certain crimes, like robbing a store at gunpoint, would have seen themselves heading to adult courts. Now, the juvenile courts can handle the cases up to age 25.

Alcohol and pot make a deadly combination for drivers

Police in Washington are reporting a new trend that's taking many lives on the state's highways, and they are calling it poly-drugged driving. That means driving while both drunk and intoxicated by another drug at the same time. The most common drug combination involved is alcohol and marijuana.

The Washington Traffic Safety Commission issued a report that says that the number of fatal crashes involving poly-drugged drivers has increased by around 15 percent each year since 2012. As of 2016, a quarter of the state's traffic fatalities involved a poly-drugged driver. In 2017, such crashes killed a total of 250 people.

Victims' rights advocate facing drug distribution charges

Victims' rights advocates in Washington and around the country are likely familiar with Henry T. Nicholas III. The founder of the technology giant Broadcom has funded efforts that have prompted lawmakers in five states to pass laws protecting crime victims, but the 59-year-old entrepreneur was recently the subject of far less complimentary media reports. Nicholas became the subject of scrutiny after it was learned that he had been taken into custody by Las Vegas police on drug trafficking charges.

According to a police report, Nichols called security when he was unable to gain admittance to his hotel room on the evening of Aug. 7. When security personnel entered the room, they claim to have discovered a woman lying unconscious on the floor with a half inflated balloon hanging from her mouth. The security officers then contacted the police based on what they had seen and called in paramedics to revive the woman.

NFL player faces uncertain future after DUI guilty plea

Seattle Seahawks fans may recall reading about National Football League cornerback Daryl Worley's brush with the law in April. The former Philadelphia Eagle and current Oakland Raider was charged with driving while under the influence, weapons possession and resisting arrest, when Philadelphia police officers allegedly found him unconscious behind the wheel of a car that was blocking a highway entrance ramp. The 23-year-old athlete entered guilty pleas to reduced charges on June 18 and now awaits to hear what sanctions the NFL has in store for him.

Reports indicate that prosecutors encouraged Worley to accept a plea arrangement by dropping a felony firearms charge and recommending a reduced sentence on the drunk driving count. He was sentenced to 72 hours in jail for the DUI charge, but he was spared further incarceration after being credited with time served. Worley will spend two years on probation for the weapons possession and resisting arrest charges according to reports.

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