State launches refund portal for legal fees from vacated drug cases

The Blake decision affected over 200,000 drug sentences in the state. Snohomish County got $2.6 million to repay fees and cover court costs.

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EVERETT — People who’ve had their felony drug possession sentences vacated can now receive financial compensation for the legal fines they paid.

The Blake Refund Bureau, launched by the Administrative Office of the Courts last week, is an online portal where people obtain reimbursements for legal fees tied to convictions vacated due to the State v. Blake decision.

In 2021, the state Supreme Court ruled that felony drug possession was unconstitutional because it “did not require intent, or knowledge of possession,” according to the administrative office.

As a result, any related convictions were vacated and removed from a person’s criminal record, and the legal financial fees qualified for reimbursement.

The state earmarked $47 million toward possession charge vacations and sentencing adjustments. Another $51 million was set aside for the legal refunds.

For 2023, Snohomish County received $2.6 million, according to Chris Stanley, chief financial and management officer.

Everett was awarded around $440,000 for “extraordinary judicial, prosecutorial and/or defense related costs” as a result of the Blake decision, according to city records.

The Blake ruling affected over 200,000 felony drug possession charges dating back to the 1970s, according to the Blake Refund Bureau. An additional 125,000 misdemeanor marijuana charges are also eligible to be washed from criminal records.

People can apply online via the Blake Refund Bureau portal, or apply via mail. Further options on the website have information intended to help people seek legal help in getting their convictions vacated.

Jonathan Tall: 425-339-3486; jonathan.tall@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @EDHJonTall.

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