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AGO 1951 No. 185 - December 04, 1951
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

UNIFORM NARCOTIC AND DRUG ACT ‑- FIRST OFFENSE THEREUNDER.

A first offense within section 20, chapter 22, Laws of 1951, Second Extra Session, means a first offense against this chapter and prior offenses against other sovereigns are not to be considered in determining whether the lesser punishment under section 20 may be imposed.

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                                                                December 4, 1951

Honorable Charles O. Carroll
Prosecuting Attorney
King County
County City Building
Seattle 4, Washington                                                                                                   Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 185

Attention:  !ttMr. Euthemios Carras, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney

Dear Sir:

            This is to acknowledge your letter of November 27, 1951 in which you requested our interpretation of section 20, chapter 22, Laws of 1951, Second Ex. Sess.  (Uniform Narcotic Drug Act)

            The facts appearing from your letter are as follows:

            A person was charged November 1, 1951 for violating section 17 of the above act.  In 1949 the same individual had been convicted in federal court on a similar charge under federal statutes.

            The question is whether the charge of November 1, 1951 is a first offense within the provisions of section 20, chapter 22, Laws of 1951, Second Ex. Sess., so as to warrant the court, when sentencing the violator, to impose the lesser punishment provided therein.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            Our conclusion is that the charge of November 1, 1951 is a first offense within the provisions of section 20.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Section 20 of chapter 22, Laws of 1951, Second Ex. Sess., provides as follows:

            "Any person violating any provision of sections 1 to 19, inclusive, of this chapter, shall, upon conviction, be punished by a fine not exceeding fifty thousand dollars and by imprisonment in the state penitentiary for a term of not less than ten years:  Provided, That for the first offense the court may in its discretion impose a fine of not to exceed one thousand dollars or a sentence not to exceed one year in the county jail, or both such fine and imprisonment."

            We feel that the phrase "for the first offense" found in the above section means the first offense committed under the laws of this state.  The proviso above relates to the antecedent providing "any person violating any provision of sections 1 to 19, inclusive, of this chapter, * * *."  In other words, to determine whether one has been guilty of a prior offense, reference should only be made to violations of this chapter.

            Thus, in our view, a prior conviction in federal court for a similar violation under the federal statutes is not to be considered as an offense for the purposes of determining whether the lesser punishment under section 20 may be imposed.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

ROBERT L. SIMPSON
Assistant Attorney General

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