The Seattle City Council is considering changing the criminal code so that criminals who have committed trespassing, theft, or even simple assault could be exempt from prosecution if they could prove that their survival depended on their criminal acts.
Councilmember Lisa Herbold and Anita Khandelwal, the King County’s director of the Department of Public Defense, introduced the idea of changing the criminal code. Herbold first brought the idea of what is nicknamed the “poverty defense” in October. KOMO reported at the time:
If approved, 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.
“The advocates’ proposal covers all misdemeanor crimes, except DUIs and domestic violence cases,” KIRO 7 noted.
Khandelwal stated, “In a situation where you took that sandwich because you were hungry and you were trying to meet your basic need of satisfying your hunger; we as the community will know that we should not punish that. That conduct is excused,” according to KOMO.– READ MORE