Friday, May 21, 2010

Awww... so I see.

At last night's Ward 7 Townhall/Crime Summit I asked a question about an issue in my neighborhood regarding how many times someone can be rearrested before they are held. Chief Judge Lee Satterfield of DC Superior Court had one of his staff members approach me to get the name of the offender in question. Keeping it real, I didn't think they were going to contact me, but I got a call today from one of his staff.

His staff told me that drug possession with intent to sell is a misdemeanor and not a felony, as I thought. According to DC law they cannot hold someone for a misdemeanor. Even though this person has a rap sheet a few pages long, because he has no prior felonies he still can't be held.

I sincerely appreciate the information, but I it leaves me to ask why isn't drug possession with intent to sell across the street from an elementary school a felony? Why isn't there a threshold for how many times you can be arrested with a misdemeanor before your trial?

3 comments:

  1. I don't know who you talked to, but they are definitely wrong. possession with intent to distribute carries the same penalty as distribution.

    D.C. Official Code § 48-904.01. Prohibited acts A; penalties

    (a) (1) Except as authorized by this chapter, it is unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally to manufacture, distribute, or possess, with intent to manufacture or distribute, a controlled substance.

    (2) Any person who violates this subsection with respect to:

    (A) A controlled substance classified in Schedule I or II that is a narcotic or abusive drug shall be imprisoned for not more than 30 years or fined not more than $ 500,000, or both;

    (B) Any other controlled substance classified in Schedule I, II, or III, except for a narcotic or abusive drug, is guilty of a crime and upon conviction may be imprisoned for not more than 5 years, fined not more than $ 50,000, or both; except that upon conviction of manufacturing, distributing or possessing with intent to distribute 1/2 pound or less of marijuana, a person who has not previously been convicted of manufacturing, distributing or possessing with intent to distribute a controlled substance or attempting to manufacture, distribute, or possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance may be imprisoned for not more than 180 days or fined not more than $ 1000 or both;

    C) A substance classified in Schedule IV, is guilty of a crime and upon conviction may be imprisoned for not more than 3 years, fined not more than $ 25,000, or both; or

    (D) A substance classified in Schedule V, is guilty of a crime and upon conviction may be imprisoned for not more than one year, fined not more than $ 10,000, or both.


    Release decisions are based on risk of flight and protection of the community. The purpose of bail was never to lock up people without a trial and conviction, but to ensure that the defendant appeared in court. When the District used a bail system, poor people who could not pay stayed in jail while those who could pay got out. This could result in the releasing high profile criminals and drug dealers. Under the current system, If the court believes that the defendant won't show up, they can detain him/her. If the court believes the defendasnt will show up, the court should not detain unless it is necessary to protect the community. Under the current scheme. there is a presumption that a violent offender or drug trafficker should be detained to protect the community.

    A third issue is where would we hold everyone who is arrested? The DC Jail has a capacity of 2164. On Friday it held 2078. In the past, the jail has had to keep prisoners on the bus to keep under the court imposed cap. The District has also had to release people early to make room for new prisoners.

    I say all this not to disagree that someone arrested multiple times should not be held, but to give you a more complete vision of the issue.

    nivin23

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the information. After I wrote this post, I talked to MPD. It is a felony, but the attorney's office decided to reduce it to a misdemeanor.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You can't sling books in the hood -- unless they come as a package deal either with an EBT card or a fat dub sack.

    ReplyDelete