How the State V. Blake Decision by the WA State Supreme Court Affects Felony Drug Possession Convictions

Felony Drug Possession Convictions

The State v. Blake decision was handed down by the Washington State Supreme Court in February, 2021. The decision ruled the felony drug possession law unconstitutional and void, potentially affecting hundreds of simple drug possession convictions against Washingtonians. If you were convicted of simple possession of a controlled substance under RCW 69.50.4013 (or one of its predecessor statutes) you may be eligible to have your conviction vacated and to receive a refund of any legal financial obligations (LFOs) you paid on these cases.

How the State V. Blake Decision by the WA State Supreme Court Affects Felony Drug Possession Convictions

Each county’s prosecuting attorney’s office should automatically process orders to vacate convictions in cases where the only charge is simple possession. To see if an order has already been entered on your case(s), visit www.dw.courts.wa.gov. If you cannot find your case or if you found your case, but have not yet received a refund of your LFOs despite a current address being provided, contact your county clerk’s office.

If a current mailing address was not provided in the order to vacate, you will need to complete a refund application. Be prepared to provide proof of identity and a current mailing address. After the refund application has been received and approved by your county clerk, the clerk will review your case(s) to determine whether any refund amount is due. If a refund is owed, the clerk will then process the refund. Note that if there were other charges in your case, a refund will only be processed for any fines or fees you paid toward the possession of controlled substance charge.

If an order to vacate has not been entered in your case, contact your county public defender’s association or a local criminal defense lawyer for additional resources about how to vacate your simple possession conviction(s).

What happens after my simple possession conviction is vacated?

Once an order to vacate has been received by the county clerk, the clerk will be able to update the case/court record. They will send a copy of the order to Washington State Patrol to update your criminal history record and process a refund as long as the proper language and a current mailing address was included in the order.

How do I know if I am eligible for a refund?

Any individuals who made payments for LFOs owed in cases that were vacated as a result of the State v. Blake decision, may be eligible for a refund.

Adverse administrative action by the Washington State Department of Health

According to a statement by the Washington State Department of Health, anyone who has faced any adverse administrative action by the Department of Health, such as a final order or a stipulation of informal discipline based solely or in part because of a conviction under RCW 69.50.4013(1), should contact the Department of Health to request that the department review the matter.

You will need to include your credential number and case number from your disciplinary action in your communication. The DOH states that it is committed to reviewing each file and explaining what options may exist. If the DOH denies your request to vacate its adverse administrative action in its entirety, it is in your interest to contact a criminal defense attorney to discuss your legal rights.

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