New King County Prosecuting Attorney lays out policy changes

King County Prosecuting Attorney Leesa Manion laid out her policy and practice changes for her new administration on Tuesday in a press conference at the King County Courthouse.

Among the announcements was the creation of two new divisions — one focused on gender-based violence and one tackling economic crimes and wage theft.

There also will be a new Gun Violence Prevention Unit in the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, which will connect individuals who are close to gun violence to community-based resources before they become victims or perpetrators of violence.

A Felony Traffic Unit also will zero in on vehicular homicide and assault cases and “their devastating impacts on victims and survivors.”

The division related to gender-based violence and prevention does not have an official title yet but includes the domestic violence unit, sexually violent predator unit, special assaults unit that handles sex crimes, and prosecutors handling commercial sexual exploitation and hate crimes.

“Cases involving rape, sexual assault and domestic violence often share some common evidentiary issues, and a focused approach will improve the prosecution of these serious crimes,” Manion said. “While all victims and survivors of crime are relevant and deserve to be heard, the purpose of this new division is to elevate and improve our office’s response to gender-based violence. This division will bring a trauma-informed, victim-centered response to these cases.”

The Economic Crimes and Wage Theft Division will include organized retail theft, economic crimes, identity theft, fraud, elder abuse and wage theft.

“In 2022, the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office filed more than double the number of organized retail theft charges than it did in 2021,” Manion said. “Many of those cases were filed in collaboration with the Seattle City Attorney’s Office. Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison is a strong leader and has been a valuable partner in making Seattle a safer city, and I look forward to our continued collaboration.”

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