Seattle City Council Proposes Bill to Dismiss Many Misdemeanor Charges Based On Certain Criteria Regarding Poverty or Addiction

OPINION | This article contains political commentary which reflects the author's opinion.

Seattle, Washington is arguably one of the most Democrat cities in America today. And their current legislators clearly reflect that reality. Last week, City Councilwoman Lisa Herbold introduced legislation that would allow for the dismissal of the majority of misdemeanor crimes if the alleged criminal meets certain criteria. According to Seattle local news,

“the ordinance would excuse and dismiss — essentially legalizing — almost all misdemeanor crimes committed in Seattle by offenders who could show either:

-Symptoms of addiction without being required to provide a medical diagnosis;

-Symptoms of a mental disorder; or

-Poverty and the crime was committed to meet an “immediate and 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.”

Interestingly, the City Council has been discussing this proposed legislation with almost no public discourse on the subject, as the council has not held a standalone meeting to publicly discuss the subject, which would make almost every crime below a felony, excluding only DUIs and domestic violence.

The former public safety advisor for Seattle, Scott Lindsay, says that he is,

“not aware of any legislation like this anywhere in the United States (or) even globally. All cities have criminal codes to protect their citizens from criminal acts. This would essentially create a legal loophole that swallows all those codes and creates a green light for crime.”

Councilwoman Herbold defended the legislation saying that although the bill would essentially decriminalize most misdemeanor offenses,

“The intent of the proposal is to provide a defense”

and that it

“gives the defense the opportunity to share that with the court.”

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