A former Seattle police officer recently plead guilty to charges of marijuana smuggling and conspiracy in U.S. District Court.
According to the Seattle Times, former police officer Alex Chapackdee was accused of helping to smuggle hundreds of pounds of marijuana from the Pacific Northwest to Baltimore. Chapackdee allegedly helped guard marijuana growing operations and provided "muscle" when drug money was transported. He admitted to carrying his Seattle Police Department badge and gun during these activities.
Chapackdee recently pled guilty to charges of conspiracy to distribute marijuana and money laundering. He faces a minimum five-year prison sentence for the marijuana smuggling charge and fines of up to $5 million. Money laundering convictions can carry up to 20 years in prison and potential fines of $250,000.
Both the prosecution and Chapackdee have agreed to recommend the mandatory-minimum sentence of five years in exchange for Chapackdee's guilty plea. Several other felony charges may be dropped based on the plea bargain arrangement.
Washington State Marijuana Laws
Marijuana laws in Washington state can be confusing. Marijuana cultivation, sale, possession, and consumption are legal under certain circumstances. However, outside of those specific circumstances, growing, distributing, and even possessing small amounts of marijuana is all illegal in Washington.
Marijuana offenses can be misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the circumstances. Penalties can range from 1 day in jail or a small fine for misdemeanor charges all the way up to 10 years in jail and $20,000 in fines for the most serious felony offenses.
The police can also potentially seize property that is related to a marijuana crime. This includes drugs and raw materials used to manufacture drugs. But it can also include other property, such as:
- Vehicles used to transport or deliver drugs
- Money related to the alleged drug crime
- Real estate (including land, houses, and businesses) where the crime took place
Seized items do not have to be returned unless the accused can prove that the property was not directly involved in the crime. If your property has been seized due to a drug crime, it can be very difficult to prove that your property was not involved. You also have a limited period of time to request a hearing to have your property returned.
Federal Marijuana Laws
Even though recreational marijuana is legal in many states, including Washington, marijuana is completely illegal at the federal level. This means it is a federal crime to transport any amount of marijuana across state lines. Chapackdee's case involved transporting marijuana from the Northwest to Baltimore. Therefore, he faced federal charges and his case was heard in a federal U.S. District Court, rather than a local court.
What to Do if You Are Charged with a Marijuana Crime in Washington
If you are charged with a marijuana crime in Washington, you could face jail time, fines, and the seizure of your home, vehicle, or business. A conviction can also negatively affect your future job, housing, and financial prospects. It is important to have a knowledgeable attorney to help minimize the potential consequences of a marijuana conviction.
Drug crime attorney Steve Karimi fights tirelessly to defend those accused of marijuana and other drug crimes in Washington. Contact him to start building your drug crime defense as soon as possible.