An early adopter of marijuana legalization, Washington has navigated the highs and lows associated with legalizing weed. A 2021 case, State v. Blake could change how simple possession is prosecuted and redefines the established statutes as unconstitutional. Keep reading to find out what this means for you.
Prior to the State v. Blake decision, simple possession of any controlled substance could be punished with jail time and fines. Most states with legalization have similar rules, but in Washington, officials began to take a closer look at the legal process and decide whether the old way was still effective.
The case shed light on a key aspect of legalization and enforcement: criminalization. One of the primary reasons why national legalization is so important is because of the amount of people incarcerated for simple possession crimes. The issue is that a disproportionate amount of Black and African American people is incarcerated daily for marijuana crimes like simple possession when their white counterparts are not.
An ACLU study found that on average, a Black person is 3.64 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person. Despite arrests for simple possession of controlled substances and marijuana crimes increasing since 2018, the disparities remain stark.
A New Perspective
State v. Blake revealed that in WA, these trends were further perpetuated because the law did not require proof of intent which led to thousands of convictions that may not be allowed under different circumstances. Without proof of intent, people could be convicted for possession even if they did not have knowledge of the fact that a restricted substance was on their person, in their home or vehicle.
So, if a person was unknowingly in possession of weed, they could be convicted and sentenced and face the penalties that come with criminal conviction. The Washington Supreme Court reevaluated these statutes during State v. Blake and found that it was unconstitutional to convict without the burden of proving intent.
Because the court found the previous policies unconstitutional, the state had to adjust the laws and make them constitutional. As a result, the law regarding simple possession has been rewritten to provide those with a conviction under the previous statute the chance to apply for resentencing and a second chance.
Not only can those accused and convicted of simple possession before 2021 apply for resentencing, but they could also potentially have their conviction vacated, reduced, or fines returned. Predicate felonies may also be removed through expunction in some cases. Offender scores may be reduced as well if points were added for a simple possession charge.
This means that anyone convicted of simple possession under the previous statute, RCW 69.50.4013 is eligible for resentencing, sentence reduction, fee refunds, reduced scores and more. However, to fully qualify, a person must have an attorney.
Apply for a Second Under State v. Blake
If you were convicted of simple possession of controlled substances under statute RCW 69.50.4013, you must contact Guadagno Law, PLLC. The state will not notify you unless you are serving time currently. Our attorneys can help you evaluate whether you qualify and what benefits may apply to you as the state navigates these new rules. Additionally, long wait times and delays are common when waiting for a public defender, but our firm is prepared to handle your case and help you pursue the most optimal result.
Contact Guadagno Law, PLLC for more information.