Last month the Edmonds City Council passed an ordinance making it illegal to occupy or store belongings in public places overnight. This move corresponded with a sweeping national trend by local governments to criminalize homelessness. The Edmonds ordinance essentially forces people living on Edmond’s streets to either get into a shelter or risk a criminal conviction.
Other Cities near Seattle have made similar efforts to curb homelessness. For example, last year Mercer Island passed a law banning camping in public places, and Auburn turned a civil infraction for public camping into a criminal penalty. There is little doubt these acts were measures taken to ward off the spread of homelessness from Seattle, where tents and city camping are all too prevalent.
The problem with Edmonds’ Ordinance is that there is no homeless shelter in Edmonds, and the out of town shelters are already too full to support Edmonds’ homeless. And therein lies the rub … does the Edmond’s ordinance criminalize homelessness or does it criminalize the non-acceptance of support being offered by the City of Edmonds, as is claimed by the ordinance’s proponents. When there are no shelter beds available – either because Edmonds has no shelter, or the shelters in other cities are too full – doesn’t the ordinance really just criminalize homelessness? And if so, is that o.k. in this politically charged social climate?
If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer. SQ Attorneys has such lawyers. If you need assistance with a criminal charge call SQ Attorneys at (425) 359-3791 or (206) 441-0900.