The Seattle City Council is mulling over a new proposed rule that would virtually allow anyone charged with a misdemeanor to have their charges dropped if they claim drug addiction or poverty made them commit the crime.
KOMO News reports that while the local legislation isn’t anywhere near being enacted, the city council is currently considering the change without yet having consulted the public. Under the proposed plan, substance addiction, mental illness or poverty would become a valid legal defense for a defendant to use to have their misdemeanor charges dropped. And, according to the local reports, all a person would have to do is make a claim that they committed the crime because of a basic need.
“For example, if a defendant argued they stole merchandise to sell for cash in order to purchase food, clothes or was trying to scrape together enough money for rent. The accused could not be convicted,” KOMO News explained.
If that weren’t bad enough, the accused wouldn’t even have to show medical proof that they’re suffering from addition or mental illness.
The only charges that couldn’t be dropped because of such a claim would be DUIs and domestic violence crimes. KOMO News reports that Seattle police make about 12,000 non-DUI or domestic violence-related misdemeanor arrests every year.
And it looks like the city council knows the plan could be a problem with many in the public. The proposal was brought up late in the third hour of a nighttime council Budget Committee meeting and hasn’t been discussed with the public.
The move follows a rough year for the city, where local officials have found themselves in hot water with their residents. The Seattle City Council recently agreed to pay $35,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by a resident who accused the governing body of breaking Washington’s open-public meetings law by repealing the head tax law without input from the public. Earlier this summer, business owners collectively sued the city for surrendering entire downtown blocks to anarchists with Antifa and Black Lives Matter, resulting in heavy damage to local businesses unlucky enough to find themselves within “CHOP” borders.