The Blake Decision—Simple Drug Possession (VUCSA) Is No Longer Illegal and Never Was
(Get Drug Possession Convictions Off your Record)
By Derek M. Smith, 4-1-21
On February 25, 2021, the Washington State Supreme Court made a landmark decision declaring Unconstitutional the Washington State’s law that criminalized the simple possession of controlled substances. That law, valid for over 50 years, made the possession of controlled substances a felony. It made the crime one of “strict liability”, that is, the State did not need to prove that the defendant possessed the controlled substances knowingly or intentionally. This Blake decision declared that law unconstitutional, setting into motion a number of possible ripple effects:
- 1) all convictions would be overturned and remanded for sentencing,
- 2) all disabilities, including the loss of right to possess firearms, would be overturned,
- 3) anyone who paid legal financial obligations would have that money refunded,
- 4) anyone who was sentenced for valid crimes, but who had “points” on their offender score because of controlled substance violations would need to be resentenced,
- 5) anyone on community custody for a controlled substance possession crime would need to be removed from that.
- 6) all convictions would need to be vacated and expunged,
- HOWEVER, 7) its not clear whether plea agreements could be withdrawn by the State based on the decision, which may have some people facing higher charges than their plea bargains.
The decision would affect tens of thousands of people. And understandably many people are moving to try and see what the decision can do for their situation.
However, at this time the decision IS NOT FINAL and the State had filed a motion to reconsider the decision, which the Washington Supreme Court has not decided on as of yet. The various elected County Prosecutors are deciding what their own unique policies to the decision (almost none of them uniform), and deciding on the priority of the cases they choose to address first.
Obviously, there is great interest in this decision and its outcome. Anyone possibly affected should reach out to their attorneys. For attorneys in the South Sound contact criminal defense attorneys of The Law Offices of Smith & White, PLLC for legal help with any of these issues.