Governor signs Hayes’ misdemeanor arrest bill


A bill that will allow law enforcement officers to make arrests in misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor cases, even if they weren't the officer who saw the alleged crime, was signed into law today (Wednesday) by Gov. Jay Inslee.  House Bill 2057 was introduced and prime-sponsored by Rep. Dave Hayes, R-Camano Island.

The measure is in response to a state Supreme Court ruling last year (State v. Ortega) that overturned the conviction of a man who was arrested on drug charges because the arresting officer was not the officer who witnessed the alleged crime.

“This comes from a case in Seattle in which one officer at a crime scene looked down from a multi-story building and witnessed a gross misdemeanor drug deal on the street. The witnessing officer radioed another officer on the street to apprehend the suspect and make the arrest. Because the other officer did not actually witness the crime, the case was thrown out of court,” said Hayes, assistant ranking member of the House Public Safety Committee.  “This incident set a precedent for future court cases, and would have really complicated surveillance and investigations of law enforcement officers, who often work in tandem to catch and stop criminals in the act.”

Hayes says the bill makes a simple one-word change in the law.

“State law says it must actually be 'the' officer who witnessed a misdemeanor who must make the arrest. The new law changes that word to 'an,' so that a suspect can be arrested without a warrant when the misdemeanor is witnessed by 'an' officer, not just 'the' arresting officer,” noted Hayes, who is also a Snohomish County Sheriff's Office sergeant. “This will help our law enforcement officers do their jobs effectively. The end result will be greater public safety for our streets and neighborhoods.”

The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn the 2014 session tomorrow, March 13. House Bill 2057 becomes effective 90 days after the Legislature adjourns.


Washington State House Republican Communications