Overcrowding in County Jail

Overcrowding in the Kitsap County Jail is forcing officials to change the standards about who stays behind bars and who gets released. Anyone arrested in Kitsap County is still booked into jail, but depending on the suspected crimes, some are being released without bail. The jail can operate with 421 inmates, but the population is currently exceeding that number. On Friday, the jail was 11 percent over maximum capacity. Records have shown that inmates are staying longer. The courts are seeing an increase in persons coming through there facing sentencing, so it’s a matter of these two aspects that are causing this. In response, the chief of corrections made some changes to the jail’s intake standards. Right now, the jail is booking and holding inmates for felony crimes, felony drug charges and domestic violence. But officials are releasing people suspected of nonviolent crimes, including misdemeanor theft, driving with a suspended license and DUI. The overcrowding also comes as the jail deals with budget issues and limited staff. But officals said the changes at the jail were made with safety in mind. “We recognize that fact that’s why we’re only being less restrictive with regard to crimes against property or civil violations, we’re not talking about crimes against persons,” officials stated. Officials are looking at the jail population every day, so the standards will change as the number of inmates decrease. If you or a loved one is charged with a criminal offense in Washington State, it is imperative that you seek the assistance of a qualified and reputable Seattle criminal defense attorney. The Seattle criminal attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified and reputable Seattle criminal lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those arrested for crime all across Western Washington and the Greater Puget Sound region. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the criminal allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances of the given case.

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Federal Government Looks to Toughen DUI Limit

Federal accident investigators are weighing a recommendation that states reduce their threshold for drunken driving from the current .08 blood alcohol content to .05, a standard that has been shown to substantially reduce highway deaths in other countries. The lower threshold was one of a series of recommendations aimed at reducing drunken driving made by the National Transportation Safety Board’s staff in a report presented at a meeting of the board. New approaches are needed to combat drunken driving, which claims the lives of more than a third of the people killed each year on U.S highways – a level of carnage that that has remained stubbornly consistent for the past decade and a half, the board said. Dramatic progress was made in the 1980s through the mid-1990s after the minimum drinking age was raised to 21 and the legally-allowable maximum level of drivers’ blood alcohol content was lowered to .08, the report said. Today, drunken driving claims about 10,000 lives a year, down from over 18,000 in 1982. At that time, alcohol-related fatalities accounted for about 40 percent of highway deaths. But progress in cutting the rate further has largely stagnated, and board members have called for a fresh approach. Technology may be part of the solution, and anti-drunken driving forces have talked of turning cars into a part of the solution. In December, the board called on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the auto industry to step up their research into technology for use in all vehicles that can detect whether a driver has elevated blood alcohol without the driver breathing into a tube or taking any other action. Drivers with elevated levels would be unable to start their cars, but the technology is still years away. A combination of approaches will be needed to effectively drive down fatalities, researchers told the board at a two-day forum on drunk driving last year. Reducing the blood alcohol limit below .08 could save over 7,000 lives a year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has estimated. Australia saw a 12 percent decline in alcohol-related deaths as a share of overall traffic fatalities when it lowered its legal limit to .05. The limit in most of Europe is also .05, and in some countries it’s as low as .02. A woman weighing less than 120 pounds can reach .05 after just one drink. A man weighing up to 160 pounds reaches .05 after two drinks. A recommendation made by researchers last year has been to expand the use of alcohol ignition interlock devices by drivers convicted of driving under the influence. The devices usually require a driver to breathe into a tube, much like the breathalyzers police ask suspected drunken drivers to use. Expanded use of high visibility checkpoints by police has also been recommended Getting a DUI has never been more serious. Now more than ever it is imperative that a person charged with DUI in Washington State retain a qualified Seattle DUI attorney or a qualified Bellevue DUI lawyer in order to best minimize potential legal consequences and protect their rights and interests. The Seattle criminal attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified Seattle DUI lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those charged with DUI in Western Washington. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the DUI allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible.

Court System Gets Hacked

The Washington state Administrative Office of the Courts was hacked sometime between last fall and February, and up to 160,000 Social Security numbers and 1 million driver’s license numbers may have been accessed during the data breach of its public website, officials said Thursday. Court officials said they have only confirmed that 94 Social Security numbers were obtained and they don’t believe the larger number was compromised, but they wanted to alert the public to the possibility as a precaution. The breach happened due to vulnerability in an Adobe Systems Inc. software program, ColdFusion, that has since been patched, court officials said. The hack happened sometime after September but wasn’t caught until February. Telephone and email messages were left for Adobe representatives seeking comment. When court officials were first alerted to the breach, they believed all of the information accessed was public record, and didn’t think confidential information was taken, but following an investigation by the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center, the broader breach was confirmed in April, said courts spokeswoman Wendy Ferrell. Court officials said a law enforcement agency also investigated the case but they declined to say which one. They said the investigation was concluded and there was no information on who might be to blame. Keeling said he didn’t believe the courts were a specific target. Ferrell said that once the breach was confirmed, it took additional time to go through the files and increase security to the website, which is why there was a lag in notifying the public. The 94 known names breached are being contacted by letter, she said. The rest of the people who are potentially affected come from a defined group: – Those booked into a city or county jail within the state of Washington between September 2011 and December 2012 may have had their name and Social Security number accessed. – Names and driver’s license numbers may have been obtained from people who received a DUI citation in Washington state between 1989 through 2011, had a traffic case in Washington filed or resolved in a district or municipal court between 2011 and 2012, or had a superior court criminal case in Washington state that was filed against them or resolved between 2011 and 2012. Keeling acknowledged that confidential information should have been kept in a different area, “and now they are.” “I can say nothing more than it was an oversight on our part,” he said. Keeling said officials have added a number of additional security measures, including isolating anything that could be sensitive into more protected areas, implementing code to prevent hackers from getting to other parts of a server, and new encryption rules. Ferrell said no one from the Administrative Office of the Courts or any court in Washington state will be asking for personal information over the phone or via email related to the breach. State officials have set up a website and hotline to answer public questions about the break: http://www.courts.wa.gov/databreach and 1-800-448-5584. If you or a loved one is charged with a marijuana related criminal offense in Washington State it is imperative that you seek the assistance of a qualified and reputable Seattle criminal attorney. The Seattle criminal attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified and reputable Seattle criminal lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those arrested for crime all across Western Washington and the Greater Puget Sound region. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the criminal allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances of the given case.

Marijuana law jeopardizes all pot prosecutions

Prosecutors and crime lab scientists say a little-noticed provision in Washington’s new law legalizing recreational marijuana has jeopardized their ability to go after any pot crimes at all, and they’re calling for an immediate fix in the Legislature. The group is suggesting a change in the legal definition of marijuana, and they have the support of the Seattle lawyer who drafted the initiative. The problem stems from a part of the law meant to distinguish marijuana from industrial hemp, which is grown for its fiber. The law defines marijuana as having more than 0.3 percent of a certain intoxicating compound, called delta-9 THC. Scientists with the state crime lab say that often, even potent marijuana can have less than 0.3 percent. It’s only when heated or burned that another compound, THC acid, turns into delta-9 THC and the pot achieves its full potency. “When you smoke it, it would be very potent, but before that, it would be considered hemp under the law,” said Erik Nielson, standards and accountability manager for the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab’s Forensic Lab Services Bureau. That means that if people get caught with more than an ounce of marijuana – the amount adults are allowed to have under the law – or if police bust illicit grow operations, prosecutors might not be able to prove the plants or material seized meets the definition of marijuana. Although the lab could analyze the delta-9 THC content by burning it, that would essentially tamper with the evidence seized in any case. Another option would be to buy expensive new equipment that can test for the compound without burning the plant. But money is tight, and the lab would have to spend months developing protocols for using that method. Instead, the prosecutors and crime lab scientists worked to draft legislation to fix the problem by changing the definition of marijuana. The measure, introduced Tuesday, would define marijuana as parts of the cannabis plant containing more than 0.3 percent by dry weight of combined delta-9 THC and THC acid. The bill is due to have a public hearing in a House committee Thursday. Washington voters passed Initiative 502 last fall, joining Colorado as the first states to legalize recreational marijuana for adults over 21, and to allow the sale of taxed pot at state-licensed stores. Under Washington law, voter-approved initiatives cannot be amended within two years after passage unless lawmakers approve it by a two-thirds vote in both houses. The proposed fix for the marijuana definition is not considered controversial. It has the support of Alison Holcomb, who drafted the initiative. If you or a loved one is charged with a crime in Washington State it is imperative that you (1) assert your right to remain silent, and (2) seek the assistance of a qualified and reputable Seattle criminal attorney. The Seattle criminal attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified and reputable Seattle criminal lawyer that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those arrested for crime all across Western Washington and the Greater Puget Sound region. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the criminal allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances of the given case.

Recent DUI’s Highlight Problems

As the push continues for tougher DUI laws, two recent cases are drawing attention to repeat offenders. On Tuesday, Puyallup police say they got a repeat DUI offender off the streets when they arrested James Door. Tuesday’s DUI arrest was Door’s fifth, and investigators say he was so impaired when they pulled him over that he had trouble getting out of his car. After the arrest, Door refused to give a breath sample. “Essentially, the offender had already done time on a prior DUI arrest and felt he had nothing to lose and it didn’t mean anything to him so he wasn’t going to cooperate,” said Capt. Scott Engle with the Puyallup Police Department. Engle then obtained a search warrant for a mandatory blood draw so it could be used later as evidence. “It’s taking a serious, serious problem off the road that can impact innocent people in a moment’s notice,” he said. Door’s arrest comes at the same time some lawmakers are proposing to tighten the state’s DUI laws. Among other changes, the laws would require an arrest on the first offense and would set mandatory minimum jail time for second and third offenses. “We do think the laws need to be tougher here in Washington,” said Dan Schulte, whose parents were killed and his wife and son seriously injured when they were hit by an alleged drunk driver in Seattle’s Wedgwood neighborhood five weeks ago . In his first public statement since the crash, Schulte said things need to change. “A tragedy like this, it’s really indescribable,” he said. “It’s something that is preventable and it’s hit our family harder than it has most and it can happen to anyone.” He now wants to help make sure no other family has to suffer like his. “All of us need to do what we can to make a difference, and we’re hoping this horrible event can result in some positive outcomes,” he said. Schulte’s wife and infant son are both recovering in the hospital, but doctors say their road to recovery will be long. The suspected drunk driver, Mark Mullan, is facing two counts each of vehicular homicide and vehicular assault. If you or a loved one is faced with a DUI charge in Western Washington, you deserve the assistance of a reputable and qualified Seattle DUI attorney who will relentlessly defend your case. You deserve a Seattle DUI lawyer who has an intimate understanding of Washington DUI laws and the legal issues that could win your case. You deserve a Seattle DUI attorney who is not afraid to stand up against the prosecution and aggressively fight for your rights and interests. SQ Attorneys is the right Western Washington DUI law firm for the job. Call for a free initial consultation – (206) 441.0900 (Seattle); (425) 998-8384 (Eastside) – it will be the best decision you make all day.