DV 101

December 5th, 2016

As is well known by Seattle domestic violence attorneys, law enforcement agents, in certain domestic violence situations, are required to make an arrest. In these situations, an officer will arrest the person whom he believes is the primary aggressor.

Once the person is formerly charged with domestic violence, a judge often imposes a no contact order (‘NCO’). The NCO prohibits the arrested person from having any contact with the alleged victim, her home, school or workplace. Generally, a no contact order remains in place until the case is completed. This is so regardless of the arrested party’s (the ‘defendant’) desire, or even the alleged victim’s desire. If prohibited from going home, a defendant may be given a civil standby order, which is often set up through a law enforcement agency (i.e. the Sheriff’s Office). A civil standby order allows a defendant to return to his home with law enforcement (for appx. 20 mins) to gather his essential belongings.

After a domestic violence arrest, an incident report is sent to the prosecution, who will then take over the case. Ultimately, the prosecution decides if a case is moving forward with charges or not – this is so even if the alleged victim doesn’t want to press charges against the defendant.

There are some viable defenses to domestic violence. Some examples include, but are not limited to: (1) self-defense; (2) the “victim” made it up or is lying; (3) the injuries are self-inflicted; (4) the incident was an accident/ not intentional; and (5) the government can’t prove the allegation beyond a reasonable doubt. These defenses are raised at trial and are presented to a jury for consideration.

General consequences to a domestic violence conviction (beyond jail time and fines) include: (1) immigration issues; (2) loss of firearm rights; (3) loss of employment and/or the ability to be employed; (4) difficulty in renting an apartment; (5) no contact orders; (6) inability to see children; and (7) probation.

If you (or a loved one) find yourself facing a DV related criminal charge, it is infinitely important to immediately contact and hire a Seattle domestic violence attorney. The Seattle domestic violence attorneyscourtroom that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified and reputable Seattle domestic violence lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those arrested for crime all across Western Washington and the Greater Puget Sound region. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the criminal allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances of the given case. So, whether cited for domestic violence related assault, malicious mischief, property destruction or some other crime, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys immediately at 206.441.0900.

Drivers’ License Suspension Leads to Blow-and-Go

November 30th, 2016

When dealing with the consequences of a Washington state DUI what a layman may not quite understand is that part of any DUI sentence is the absolute requirement of obtaining and maintaining an ignition interlock device. The device, in layman’s terms, is called a ‘blow-and-go’ (hereinafter, “IID”). It is a device a driver has to blow into to get his car started and to keep it running. The real question that pops up over and over again in the world of DUI law is: ‘what if I don’t have or own a car?’ Well the short answer is if the incident which lead to your DUI or physical control conviction occurred on or after June 9, 2016 you will not be able to get re-licensed until you comply with the IID requirement as outlined in RCW 46.20.720.

The foregoing is true because the 2016 amendments to RCW 46.20.720 place at least a one-year IID requirement on any DUI or Physical Control conviction. See RCW 46.61.5055 and 46.20.720, A person can “wait-out” the actual license suspension without getting an IID, but the post-conviction, post-suspension IIDSobriety Test - Skeptical requirement (as of 6/9/16) will stay alive as long as the person does, see RCW 46.20.720(3) – duration of restriction. In short, if the person doesn’t want a drivers’ license there is no problem – don’t get an IID. However, if the person ever wants to reinstate his driving privilege, or get a drivers’ license, the person must comply with the post-conviction, post-suspension IID requirement.

Any person accused of DUI of Physical Control should consult with a qualified Seattle DUI attorney. A qualified and respected Seattle DUI lawyer, among other things, can quite possibly save the aggrieved thousands of dollars in court and insurance fees, the extent of loss of privilege to drive, and the amount of jail time to be served. Washington traffic laws are far too complicated for any ol’ attorney to handle. Be smart and consult with a qualified and skilled Seattle DUI attorney when arrested for an alcohol and/or drug related DUI in Washington State.

Benefits of a Plea Deal

November 21st, 2016

glasses on bookWe at SQ Attorneys have often been asked, ‘why would a prosecutor cut a plea deal on my case; why don’t I just plead guilty and get this over with?’ Although there may be several reasons a prosecutor may want to resolve a case rather than take the case before a jury, the most obvious reason is “judicial economy.” You see, neither the court nor the court can handle the actual volume of cases within the judicial system. To take every case to trial would virtually paralyze the process, and quite simply … is not tenable.

You see, it can actually take months or even years for a case to go to trial on a judge’s crowded calendar, and a plea bargain means one less case in the system. This is good not only judicially but also economically because our court system is paid for by our hard earned tax-paying dollars. Further, plea bargains free up jail and prison space for more dangerous criminals. Prosecutors (like criminal defense attorneys) also have busy-overloaded caseloads so they often have to do a form of triage, similar to that of a hospital emergency room – they have to pick and choose which cases to focus their energy on, and they have to prioritize their caseload. A reasonable plea bargain allows prosecutors to quickly deal with lesser offenses, and it may also put a prosecutor in a more positive light with the presiding judge who appreciates the prosecutor’s efforts to keep the calendar moving and fluid.

In short, plea negotiations and ‘deals’ may be best for all the parties involved – the defendant, the court and the prosecutor. For the defendant it could mean a conviction for a lesser charge, less consequences and penalties. For the court it lessens court congestion and for the prosecutor a more balanced caseload.

If you or a loved one is arrested or charged with a crime, you should immediately seek the advice and/or assistance of a qualified Seattle criminal defense attorney. The Seattle Criminal Defense Attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified and reputable Seattle criminal defense lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those arrested or charged for crime all across Western Washington and the Greater Puget Sound region. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the criminal allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances of the given case. So, whether you are arrested or charged with misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or a felony, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys at (206) 441-0900.

CDL at Risk when DUI

November 14th, 2016

It is common knowledge that drivers of commercial motor vehicles must possess a special license entitled a ‘commercial driver’s license’ (commonly referred to as a ‘CDL’) in order to operate the commercial motor vehicle. What may not be so obvious, however, is that a DUI can impact a person’s right to possess and retain a CDL. In truth, a DUI may cause a commercial driver to lose her ability to drive a commercial vehicle for at least one year. Thus it goes without saying that commercial drivers have to be especially careful when they choose to drink and drive, even if they are driving their personal vehicle while ‘off duty’.

The legal limit for a person driving a commercial motor vehicle is .04. A first offense for driving a commercial motor vehicle with a .04 or greater will result in a one year revocation of their CDL (three years if transporting hazardous materials). A second offense is (gulp) a lifetime ban. Perhaps even more scary is the fact that unlike a civilian driver, there is no interlock or probationary license available for a CDL holder (an interlock license is, however, still available for regular driving privileges).

As can be seen, an alcohol-related driving license suspension may very well have a severe detrimental impact on CDL drivers. Any person with a CDL accused of DUI or any traffic violation should retain the immediate assistance of a qualified Seattle DUI attorney, or else risk losing their livelihood. A qualified and respected Seattle DUI lawyer, among other things, can quite possibly save the aggrieved thousands of dollars in court and insurance fees, extent of loss of privilege to drive and amount of jail time to be served. Washington traffic laws are far too complicated for any ol’ attorney to handle. Be smart and hire a qualified and skilled Seattle DUI attorney when arrested for an alcohol and/or drug related DUI in Washington State.

Probation – Being Under the Court’s Thumb

November 9th, 2016

The law requires that you receive a set of penalties when convicted of a crime. Such penalties generally include fines and jail time. Many crimes, however, also include another penalty – probation.

Probation essentially is a set of conditions that a defendant has to abide by for a period of time. They are issued by the court. What these conditions are will depend on a lot of different factors such as the type of crimeman holding criminal book convicted of and what court is handling the case. If a defendant violates the conditions set by the court, a review hearing will be set and if it is determined that the defendant is actually in violation of the condition more penalties may be imposed, inclusive of jail, fines, work release, electronic home monitoring etc.

Probation requirements for domestic violence related convictions are strict, and include affirmative conditions and prohibitive conditions. Affirmative conditions are things that a defendant has to do in order to complete his probation term. An example of an affirmative condition in a domestic violence related case is the completion of a one year domestic violence batterer treatment program. Prohibitive conditions are those that, instead of outlining things a defendant has to do, it dictates what he can’t do. Prohibitive conditions in the domestic violence context often require a defendant to have no contact with a victim involved in the case.

Generally, the court that ordered probation will be in charge of monitoring it. That said, the court often assigns a probation officer to oversee the probationary period. Some probation officers are lenient, others not so much. Sadly, it is quite true that probation time can be one of the most frustrating aspects of a defendant’s case. It can feel as if it is invading a defendant’s space and curtailing his freedom.  Some probation terms last several years, which can be difficult to swallow for those who find themselves under the watchful eyes of the court and their assigned probation officer.

If you (or a loved one) find yourself facing a DV related criminal charge, it is infinitely important to immediately contact and hire a Seattle domestic violence attorney. The Seattle domestic violence attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified and reputable Seattle domestic violence lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those arrested for crime all across Western Washington and the Greater Puget Sound region. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the criminal allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances of the given case. So, whether cited for domestic violence related assault, malicious mischief, property destruction or some other crime, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys immediately at 206.441.0900.

How Success is Achieved

November 2nd, 2016

In Washington State there are commonly two ways a prosecutor tries to prove someone drove while under the influence of alcohol. First, they try to prove the defendant was DUI by the tried-and-true  ‘totality of the circumstances’; I refer to this as the ‘throw the bowl of noodles against the wall and see what sticks’ approach. Second, they try to establish that thecourtroom defendant was operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of .08 or greater within two hours of driving. As to the latter method, the following are some ways that SQ Attorneys has succeeded in getting breath tests thrown out in the past:

•The officer failed to read the implied consent warnings, as is required by Revised Code of Washington (‘RCW’) 46.20.308.

•The officer read the incorrect implied consent warnings (for various reasons these warnings have been modified over the years).

•The person was confused about the implied consent warnings and that confusion was not clarified, as is required by Washington state case law.

•The officer was not properly certified to give a breath test, as is required by the Washington Administrative Code (‘WAC’) and the RCW.

•The officer did not check the person’s mouth prior to giving a breath test, as is required by the WAC’s and the RCW’s.

•The officer did not observe the person for 15 minutes prior to the breath test being administered, as required by RCW 46.61.506.

•The person had mouth jewelry in his mouth at the time of the breath test, which violates the WAC and RCW.

•The person had chewing tobacco in his mouth at the time of the breath test, which violates the WAC and RCW.

•The person put a ‘foreign substance’ in his mouth prior to the breath test, which violates Washington State DUI law.

•The breath test machine read an “invalid” sample and the officer did not do a new mouth check, as is required by Washington State DUI law.

•The breath test instrument failed to go through a proper “quality assurance procedure”, as required by law.

Although there are other ways to prevail in either suppressing a BAC test result, or outright having a DUI case reduced or dismissed in Washington State, the examples above are but a few of the more common ways that SQ Attorneys has been successful in their DUI cases.

If you (or a loved one) have been arrested and cited for DUI in Washington State you should immediately seek the assistance of a Seattle DUI lawyer. A qualified and respected Seattle DUI attorney, among other things, can quite possibly save you thousands of dollars in court and insurance fees, extent of loss of privilege to drive and amount of jail time to be served. Washington traffic laws are far too complicated for any ol’ attorney to handle.  Be smart and hire a qualified and skilled Seattle DUI attorney when arrested for an alcohol and/or drug related DUI in Washington State.

The Dreaded NCO

October 25th, 2016

 

lightsAs previously discussed in one of our many blog postings, under RCW 10.31.100(2)(c), if the police arrive within four hours of a domestic violence related 911 call, they must arrest at least one person. Thereafter, it is generally a ‘rubberstamp’ that a criminal charge will be filed against the arrested person.

At the defendant’s first appearance in court, various conditions of release will be imposed by the judge. These often include, showing up for all future court dates, keeping the court notified of any change of address, no further criminal law violations, and the dreaded No-Contact Order (“NCO“). These conditions are deemed ‘pretrial conditions’ and last until either the court lifts them or the case is resolved.

Sometimes an NCO can be lifted or modified at the victim’s request prior to the case being resolved. However if the person is found guilty, whether by plea or a verdict, a 5-year NCO may be entered. Thus, hiring a stellar Seattle domestic violence attorney may be in one’s best interest when facing a domestic violence allegation. A Seattle domestic violence lawyer may be able to get an NCO dropped or at least shortened.

Sadly, in Washington, an alleged victim cannot simply demand that a case not proceed to trial or that an NCO not be ordered. And regardless of the alleged victim’s desires, the prosecution will often proceed with a case, and in like kind the court will order an NCO. Perhaps even more disheartening, even if the alleged victim wants to testify that she was wrong, or freely admits that she lied, the prosecution, and the court, will often give greater weight to statements made on the date of the alleged incident.

It should be noted that failing to comply with an NCO will trigger a new – and very serious – criminal charge, as well as violate the conditions of release of the original charge. This is true even if the victim invites the defendant to break the order. Also of import, only the defendant can be punished for violating an NCO; and judges really, really don’t like it when their orders are violated and thus will harshly punish a person for doing so.

If you (or a loved one) find yourself facing a DV related criminal charge, it is infinitely important to immediately contact and hire a Seattle domestic violence attorney. The Seattle domestic violence attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified and reputable Seattle domestic violence lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those arrested for crime all across Western Washington and the Greater Puget Sound region. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the criminal allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances of the given case. So, whether cited for domestic violence related assault, malicious mischief, property destruction or some other crime, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys immediately at 206.441.0900.

DUI Mandatory Penalties

October 17th, 2016

Washington DUI sentencing courts are required to impose certain conditions when a person is convicted of a DUI. Some conditions are affirmative (i.e., pay fines, complete an alcohol evaluation, participate in alcohol treatment, and attend DUI victims panel), and others are prohibitive (i.e., don’t commit law violations, don’t consume alcohol, don’t drive without an ignition interlock). Violation of any condition (whether it be affirmative or prohibitive) can result in additional sanctions. And certain violations can result in mandatory penalties, with little discretion. This is so because pursuant to RCW 46.61.5055 (11)(A), there are three violations that require the court to impose mandatory/ non-discretionary penalties.

Under RCW 46.61.5055 a DUI sentencing court must impose, as part of probation, the following conditions:

1.No driving without a valid license and proof of insurance;
2.No driving with an alcohol concentration of .08 or more, or a THC concentration of 5.00 nanograms or more within two hours of driving;
3.No refusing a breath/ blood test upon lawful request by law enforcement.

RCW 46.61.5055 further requires that each violation of one of the above conditions will result in the court being required to impose 30 days of confinement and 30 additional days of license suspension.

So … if you (or a loved one) is convicted of a DUI, please ensure that your (their) license and insurance are valid and intact prior to driving, and that the Department of Licensing has an up-to-date address of record. Also, don’t drive after drinking alcohol or ingesting Marijuana, and don’t refuse an officer’s request for a breath or blood test. The consequences are simply too great.

If you (or a loved one) have been arrested and cited for DUI in Washington State you should immediately seek the assistance of a Seattle DUI lawyer. A qualified and respected Seattle DUI attorney, among other things, can quite possibly save you thousands of dollars in court and insurance fees, extent of loss of privilege to drive and amount of jail time to be served. Washington traffic laws are far too complicated for any ol’ attorney to handle. Be smart … hire a qualified and skilled Seattle DUI attorney when arrested for an alcohol and/or a drug related DUI in Washington State.

Nonpartisan or Partisan?

October 13th, 2016

Did you know that the King County prosecutor has been a Republican since 1948? That is a bit mind-boggling considering that King County is otherwise dominated by Democrats, not Republicans. Heck, Barack Obama won 69 percent of the King County vote in 2012.

This ‘fact’ leads to an interesting question – should the King County prosecuting attorney become a nonpartisan position? Well, voters will decide that very issue this fall; voters will choose whether the King County prosecutor should join every other elected county office in discarding its party affiliation. The supporters of nonpartisanship say that both prosecutors and the judiciary should be removed from politics as much as humanly possible. Alternatively, opponents of nonpartisanship claim that removing party affiliation will just hide relevant information from voters; they argue that, despite the voters’ dislike of partisan politics, party affiliation gives voters a quick insight into a candidate’s beliefs, and that taking away party labels forces many voters to choose between candidates they know almost nothing about. On the other hand, supporters of nonpartisanship claim that the job of a prosecutor has to be nonpolitical in every respect. This is so because the public is – quite frankly – losing confidence in partisan political institutions and their position is that we simply cannot afford for any more loss of confidence in the fairness and objectivity of the way King County prosecutes crimes. It would seem that even if the King County prosecutor did not disclose their party affiliation they would still have their own personal views, and by not disclosing this proclivity one way or the other would be doing a grave injustice to our county constituents.   Which end of the spectrum do you fall within?

If you or a loved one is arrested or charged with a crime, you should immediately seek the advice and/or assistance of a qualified Seattle criminal defense attorney. The Seattle Criminal Defense Attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified and reputable Seattle criminal defense lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those arrested or charged for crime all across Western Washington and the Greater Puget Sound region. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the criminal allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances of the given case. So, whether you are arrested or charged with misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or a felony, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys at (206) 441-0900.

PC v. BYRD; What Gives?

September 28th, 2016

The arrest of WSU football player Shalom Luani and its aftermath is an excellent example of the difference between the concepts of ‘probable cause’ and ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’. Mr. Luani was arrested for assault after being involved in an incident at a pizza joint in Pullman, Washington. WSU coach Mike Leach has always maintained that he believes Mr. Luani was acting in self defense when he was jumped by several men in a fight that left a 20-year-old WSU student with a broken nose.

On Monday, Whitman County Prosecutor Denis Tracy announced he would not file charges against Mr. Luani despite Pullman Police’s recommendation to charge him with second-degree felony assault. Mr. Tracy said he could not prove ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ that Mr. Luani did not act in self-defense. Apparently, the story that emerged at the end of the case differed from the version of events the police originally released to the public.

Interestingly, notwithstanding the fact that Mr. Tracy chose to decline filing charges against Mr. Luani, he stressed that he believes the Pullman Police did have probable cause to arrest Mr. Luani. This was important for Mr. Tracy to note because in the grand scheme of things a lot of people simply don’t understand the difference between ‘probable cause’ and ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’. You see … probable cause is a lesser standard and is all that is necessary for police to initiate an arrest. Beyond a reasonable doubt is a higher standard and is what the government must meet in order to convict someone. Clear as mud? Well, to a prosecutor, a defense attorney and/or a judge it makes all the difference in the world.

In Mr. Luani’s case the police report indicates that when Pullman PD officers arrived on the scene of the alleged crime, the alleged victim had a bloody nose, Mr. Luani was agitated, and several witnesses claimed they had witnessed him punching the victim in the face. However, at that moment, while on scene, there was not overwhelming evidence to show Mr. Luani was defending himself. That fact was gleaned later … after further investigation and inquiry into the matter in the days that followed. Thus, on the date of the incident the police had sufficient information to develop probable cause to arrest, but in the days that followed Mr. Tracy did not have sufficient information to establish beyond a reasonable doubt Mr. Luani committed the crime of assault.

If you or a loved one is arrested or charged with a crime, you should immediately seek the advice and/or assistance of a qualified Seattle criminal defense attorney. The Seattle Criminal Defense Attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified and reputable Seattle criminal defense lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those arrested or charged for crime all across Western Washington and the Greater Puget Sound region. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the criminal allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances of the given case. So, whether you are arrested or charged with misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or a felony, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys at (206) 441-0900.