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Search Warrant Needed for Homeless Camper’s Tent?

Posted Wednesday, October 11, 2017 by Andrew Charles Huff

Do police need a warrant to search a homeless man’s tent even if camping illegally? Pippin was a homeless man, living in a tent on public land in Vancouver. Police officers approached his tent and requested that he come out. When he didn’t and officers heard noise inside, they lifted a flap of the tent to look inside and observed a bag of methamphetamine. He was charged with drug possession.

The Court debated three factors—the historical protections, the intimate details revealed from a search, and the implications of recognizing this privacy interest. The Court found that Pippin’s tent functioned as part of his private affairs worthy of protection from unreasonable intrusions. His tent and its contents fell among those “privacy interests which citizens of this state should be entitled to hold, safe from governmental trespass absent a warrant, according to the Court. Therefore, Pippin’s tent and contents are protected under the Washington Constitution.

State v. Pippin, 48540-1-II

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Washington’s DUI Laws Toughest in Nation

Posted Friday, September 29, 2017 by Andrew Charles Huff

Washington State’s DUI laws are among the toughest in the nation and every couple of years the State Legislature makes them tougher in some way. The DUI statute RCW 46.61.506 criminalizes those under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, driving with a breath test reading of .08 or higher and driving with a THC level of 5 nanograms.

The penalties for a DUI conviction are administrative and criminal. The Department of Licensing will seek to suspend a person’s license if they are driving with a breath test reading of .08 or higher and driving with a THC level of 5 nanograms, or they refuse to provide a breath sample. The normal suspension period is 90 days unless a person refuses a breath test, wherein they face a minimum of a one year loss of their license. The driver has the opportunity to challenge the Department’s action with an administrative hearing, usually conducted over the phone.

The criminal penalties are stiff. A court must impose mandatory jail time of either one or two days for a first-time offense with maximum time reaching a year. The financial penalties for a DUI conviction can reach up to $5,000.00. Upon conviction, a court will impose five years of jurisdiction or probation, require an alcohol evaluation and other requirements during this probationary period.
A DUI arrest also carries potential damage to a person’s career. Those with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and pilots can be affected. Also, it’s very difficult entering into Canada with a DUI conviction.

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Traffic Ticket Challenge Reaches Iowa Supreme Court

Posted Friday, September 29, 2017 by Andrew Charles Huff

A dispute over a $75 speeding ticket has climbed through the levels of Iowa’s court system, reaching the lofty heights of the Iowa Supreme Court for oral arguments.

Ms Marla Leaf received a speeding ticket when a traffic camera allegedly caught her driving 68 mph in a 55-mph zone in Cedar Rapids. Although not the typical case for a state’s high court, Leaf argued that her constitutional rights and state law were violated because the City of Cedar Rapids delegated police powers to the private company that maintains the speed cameras.

Her attorney argued to justices that such cameras are “unduly intrusive, unfair and simply amounting to sophisticated speed traps designed to raise funds for cash-strapped municipalities by ensnaring unsuspected car owners in a municipal bureaucracy under the circumstances where most busy people find it preferable to shut up and pay rather than to scream and to fight.”

Leaf further argues that it is unlawful to give the authority to assess speeding — something it says is police work — to the private camera company, Gatso. Also, the cameras don’t issue tickets to semitrailers and government vehicles, calling the discrepancy arbitrary and a violation of equal protection.

The Court is expected to issue a decision in a couple of weeks.

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Language Issue Helps Saves Client's License

Posted Friday, September 22, 2017 by Andrew Charles Huff

A great outcome last week on a DUI case. My client was arrested for Driving Under the Influence but declined to take a breath test at the station, and therefore faced a year-long license suspension. However, English is a second language of my client and she clearly did not understand all the warnings read to her about a potential license suspension and didn’t even realize she was refusing the breath test.

At the hearing, we challenged the “refusal” of the breath test by arguing that although the officer used an interpreter to read her the “Implied Consent Warnings,” the officer could not have known for sure whether the interpreter was actually reading these warnings because the officer doesn’t speak Vietnamese. An officer is required to read these Implied Consent Warnings to anyone prior to asking them to provide a breath sample. But in this case, the State was unable to prove what warnings were actually read to my client because of the language barrier.

Great decision and a great win!

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Five Years Crime Free for Firearms Restoration-But When Does that Time Apply?

Posted Thursday, September 14, 2017 by Andrew Charles Huff

A person with a criminal conviction can petition the Superior Court to restore firearm rights but one of the conditions is five crime-free years. But when do these five years without a new conviction actually apply?

This was the question posed to the State Supreme Court-Division One recently by Edgar Dennis III. Mr. Dennis lost his right to possess a firearm but then had no criminal convictions for 16 years. But in 2014, he was convicted of a misdemeanor. Two years later, he petitioned for restoration of his firearm rights, but the court denied the request, citing his 2014 conviction. He appealed and argued the statute is ambiguous. Mr. Dennis said the law actually means that any consecutive five year period without a criminal conviction is sufficient, even if he had one or more misdemeanor convictions within five years of filing the petition.

The Court declined this argument and held that the legislature’s intent was to require at least five consecutive conviction-free years immediately preceding a petition for restoration of gun rights. So the misdemeanor conviction two years makes him ineligible.

State v. Edgar Dennis III Division One-DIVISION ONE

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