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Spokane municipal courts may now hear certain sex crimes

Does a slap on the backside constitute assault in the fourth-degree with sexual motivation? A district court had said "yes," and now municipal courts in Spokane may do the same.

A new law enacted by the city of Spokane provides officers and prosecutors in the city to treat fourth-degree assault as a city misdemeanor. This is significant, as now municipal courts will be granted the authority to decide whether the assault cases they see were sexually motivated. Moreover, the law will provide investigators with more means to track repeat offenders through the collection of DNA material. Now Spokane law will be more in line with state law.

However, a representative from the Spokane public defender office claims that by giving Spokane prosecutors the ability to claim an act of assault was sexually motivated enables investigators to obtain DNA from the accused even after the accused has been convicted. However, she doesn't believe that the types of factual situations that would lead up to a charge of assault in the fourth degree with sexual motivation will come up very often.

Still, any change to city criminal laws should be noted by residents. While it may not affect many, it is still important to have an understanding of both Spokane law and state law, especially if one is being charged with a sex crime. Those who have questions about how this new law may affect them may want to seek the advice of a criminal defense attorney. By creating a solid defense strategy, it may allow the charges against a person to be reduced or dropped altogether.

Source: The Spokesman-Review, "Spokane police, prosecutors gain ability to charge low-level sex crimes in municipal court," June 14, 2017

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