‘Crime Free Housing’ – Havoc for Those charged with DV

February 9th, 2016

How is it possible that a domestic violence allegation can wreck absolute havoc in a person’s living situation? Sadly, it is more common than not. A simple call for police assistance so as to de-escalate a family squabble will likely land one of the involved parties in jail … and charged with a domestic violence related crime. Often while the case is pending a no contact order is issued. In turn, the person charged (the Defendant) is suddenly homeless, and finding a new home is not as easy as one might hope. This is so because a domestic violence charge often impacts one’s ability to rent; landlords often refuse to take on new tenants facing the prospect of a DV conviction.

Many housing opportunities include a ‘Crime Free Housing’ clause/ policy. A common practice for landlords everywhere is to screen potential tenants for criminal records. An offense like domestic violence on a person’s record could leave the hopeful tenant out of the landlord’s selection process, and without a viable place to live. In fact, it happens quite often; it is the norm, not the exception. The reality is that if a person has a criminal record, even if the conviction is over a simple misunderstanding, he can, and most likely will, be denied housing.

Moreover, If a person is currently leasing his dwelling, the lease agreement (inclusive of a crime free clause) may very well authorize the landlord to evict the person if charged, cited or convicted of a domestic violence related crime; a breach of the lease agreement provides ‘just cause’ for the landlord to proceed with an eviction suit. In other words, a person could be breaking his lease agreement by being charged with a crime.

It should go without saying, but if you or a loved has been arrested for a domestic violence related crime in Washington State immediately contact a Seattle domestic violence criminal defense attorney to protect your rights and interests. The Seattle domestic violence criminal defense attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified and reputable Seattle domestic violence criminal defense 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 malicious mischief, assault, property destruction or some other crime, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys immediately.

The Most Wanted List – NTSB Style

February 2nd, 2016

The National Transportation Safety Board’s 2016 Most Wanted List is out! The Most Wanted List represents the NTSB’s advocacy priorities, and is designed to ‘increase awareness of, and support for, the most critical changes needed to reduce transportation accidents and save lives’ around the United States. View the NTSB press conference here:  NTSB YouTube Channel.  One of the salient issues raised by the NTSB in 2016 is the ending of substance impairment in transportation.

Over the years NTSB investigations have claimed substance impairment has caused or has been a contributing factor in numerous transportation accidents. In light of this, the NTSB is always looking for solutions to correct, as they see it, a national problem. The current legal limit for all states in the union is .08. NTSB claims that is not low enough; they argue that it should be lowered to 0.05— or even lower. Additionally, NTSB supports the notion that states should increase collection, documentation, and reporting of driver BAC test results, both for alcohol and drugs, following crashes.

NTSB claims that although certain countermeasures have been shown to reduce the rate of alcohol-impaired driving and alcohol-related crashes (including stronger impaired driving laws and increased use of high-visibility enforcement, such as sobriety checkpoints), other countermeasures are needed to ensure that people who are caught driving while impaired (DWI) do not do so again. Examples of possible additional countermeasures include, but may not be limited to: (1) requiring ignition interlocks for all alcohol impaired-driving offenders, (2) DUI courts for repeat offenders, which would provide a tailored approach that involve treatment and supervision, and (3) in-vehicle technology, such as the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety – a system that uses touch-based or breath-based systems to detect driver alcohol use). Will NTSB’s Most Wanted List someday become reality? Time will tell, but for now the legal limit for Washington and around the country is .08.

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 a person 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.

Prosecutor gives Santa a gift of his Own

January 26th, 2016

Well, well, well … it looks like even mythical figures with historical origins such as Santa Claus can commit crime. We all know Santa, right? He is the jolly fella who in many Western cultures brings gifts to the homes of well-behaved, “good” children in the late evening hours of December 24th and/or the early morning hours of December 25th … he is the one who uses a sleigh to get around, and goes down chimneys to gain entry into one’s abode.

On January 21, 2016, Santa Clause – as this man is legally named – was not operating a sleigh and there were no reindeer. Santa was operating a motorized car in eastern Washington, and he was arrested and cited for DUI. See Komo4’s story here: http://komonews.com/news/local/dont-tell-the-kids-wash-states-own-santa-arrested-for-dui . Apparently Santa admitted to having more than a couple beers before driving the wrong way down a city street. Santa allegedly blew almost twice Washington’s legal limit of .08. Luckily for this Santa, however, the prosecutor decided himself to be ‘Santa’ for a day, and gave his/her own gift by dropping the charge to Reckless Driving, which although is also a crime in Washington has less burdensome punitive qualities than does a DUI.

If you, like Santa, are ever 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 a person 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.

What is the Impact of a Refusal?

January 19th, 2016

In mid December 2015 the United States Supreme Court surprisingly agreed to decide whether states can make it a crime for a motorist suspected of drunken driving to refuse a breath, blood or even urine test. Currently there are thirteen states that do just that – make it a crime to refuse a breath/ blood test. The defendant’s in the cases to be heard claim such a law violates the Fourth Amendment ban on unlawful searches and seizures. Time will tell what the U.S.S.C. thinks on the matter.

As many in the know are well aware, in 2013 the Supremes, in Missouri v. McNeely, ruled that generally law enforcement officers investigating a DUI incident must obtain a warrant before drawing blood from a driver without his/her consent. To do otherwise may very well result in the test results being suppressed and not available as evidence in a DUI trial. Some states usurped the high court’s ruling by making it an actual separate crime to refuse giving consent to a blood/ breath test, relying on the fact that consent is a ‘condition precedent’ to getting a drivers’ license.

Although Washington State law does not make it a crime in-and-of-itself to refuse a breath/ blood test, it does specify that if a person chooses to refuse a breath/blood test their privilege to drive will be revoked for at least one year, and the ‘refusal’ may be used against him/her in a criminal trial (ostensibly to show a ‘consciousness of guilt’). DUI attorneys in Washington will be anxiously awaiting the U.S.S.C. ruling on the subject; it could dramatically change the complexion of DUI law throughout Washington State, and not in a favorable manner for those accused of DUI.

DUI’s are a serious matter in Washington; folks convicted of DUI face jail, fines, loss of privilege to drive, and court probation, among other things. If you or a loved one is 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 a person 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.

No place for Professional Courtesy

January 12th, 2016

Officer body camera policies are being reviewed in Poulsbo after an incident involving a sheriff’s sergeant wherein the sergeant was found allegedly impaired behind the wheel of his car. The October incident involved the sergeant being contacted by another law enforcement agent. The interaction was recorded on the contacting officer’s body camera, and allegedly captures the sergeant actually admitting to being drunk. Curiously, however, the body camera did not capture follow up conversations between the contacting officer and a police chief and a sergeant who were also on the scene. And perhaps more disturbing, the sheriff’s sergeant was neither arrested nor charged for DUI or Physical Control. In light perceived favoritism and unwarranted professional courtesy, there has been community outrage, for obvious reasons. In line with the concern, some members of the Poulsbo City Council recently voiced concerns about public perception and potential favoritism towards fellow law enforcement agents. The thought, rightfully so, is that any other citizen would be facing a DUI/ Physical Control conviction, inclusive of all of the unpleasant consequences that go along with that charge – jail, fine, loss of privilege to drive, to name just a few. Obviously, professional courtesy has no place in the context of a potential crime being committed. As they say, you do the crime, you do the time; just because you are law enforcement you should not be immune to charges and the punishment related thereto/

If you or a loved one is 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 a person 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.

The Blade of our Law

January 4th, 2016

On December 31st the Washington State Supreme Court held the 2nd Amendment of the United States Constitution is not violated by barring people from carrying kitchen utensils (i.e., fixed-blade knifes) in public for self defense purposes. In essence, the ruling means that our right to bear arms does not include items like small paring knifes and the like. This is so because these items are akin to utility tools, not weapons, and as such these innocuous objects do not trigger constitutional protections.

The issue arose in a Seattle case wherein a man was convicted for unlawful use of a weapon after being pulled over and telling the officer, upon questioning, that he was carrying a knife. In her dissent, Justice Mary Fairhurst pointed out that scholars have recognized that knives are deemed militia arms, which would be covered by the 2nd Amendment.  The Majority did not see it that way, however.

As evidenced above, many actions are perhaps unknowingly considered ‘crimes’ in Washington State; and as many of us know by now, a criminal charge and/or conviction can have a lasting impact on one’s life. It thus should go without saying (but we will say it anyways) if you or a loved one is facing a criminal charge, you should immediately seek the advice of a qualified Seattle criminal defense attorney before resolving their case. 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 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 unlawful use of weapon, theft, a driving offense, prostitution, possession and/or distribution of drugs, assault, property destruction or some other law violation, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys immediately.

The I am a Human Brewery Defense!

December 31st, 2015

Is there a new innovative defense available or those charged for driving under the influence? Based on a recent case in upstate New York, the answer may very well be, ‘yes’. The lawyer in the case argued that the defendant’s body is basically a brewery; the lawyer claimed that the defendant’s blood alcohol level has been recorded at four times the legal limit when she hadn’t even consumed an alcoholic beverage. This rare condition, called ‘auto-brewery syndrome’, was not discovered, of course, until after the woman was arrested for DUI. Apparently the attorney submitted medical evidence of his client’s condition to the Buffalo judge (which is believed to be caused by high levels of yeast in the gut) who thereafter dismissed the DUI charges earlier this month. Whether this will become a vogue defense for those accused of driving under the influence is yet to be seen, but give the attorney (and his client) kudos … it sure is innovative.

If you or a loved one is 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 a person 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.

A Righteous Fight Against Rent Discrimination

December 22nd, 2015

As anyone who has ever been convicted or charged with a crime will tell you, renting an abode can be next to impossible when the prospective landlord sees a ‘black mark’ pop up on a background check; especially if that ‘ignominy’ is for a violent offense. Landlord’s use background checks to screen out prospective tenants with criminal records. As a result, many people cannot obtain housing for their families because they have a criminal record. Living with friends, couch surfing and even homelessness are an often too common side effect.

To curb this problem, a campaign (Entitled: Fair Access to Renting for Everyone, F.A.R.E.) was recently launched by a group of organizations to push Seattle to enact new legislation banning landlords from automatically rejecting all prospective tenants that have criminal records or are facing criminal charges. In support of the campaign’s purpose, Mayor Ed Murray has even said that, “people who have exited the criminal justice system and paid their debt to society have a right to fair access to housing”. F.A.R.E. is seeking to mirror legislation from 2013 that restricted how employers can use conviction and arrest data during the hiring process. It will be interesting to see if F.A.R.E. is successful.  After all, there are a lot of folks fearful of having a ‘criminal’ next store; as they say – fear is the beast that feeds our attention.

A criminal charge and/or conviction can have many lasting impacts, not just the inability to lease or rent a home. It thus should go without saying (but we will say it anyways) if you or a loved one is facing a criminal charge, you should immediately seek the advice of a qualified Seattle criminal defense attorney before resolving their case. 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 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 a driving theft, a driving offense, prostitution, possession and/or distribution of drugs, assault, property destruction or some other law violation, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys immediately.

Think Again, Jedi

December 18th, 2015

Think that our Washington laws on search and seizure are tougher than our federal laws? Well think again … at least as applied to the searching and seizing of bank, phone and email records.

On Thursday the Washington State Supreme Court upheld a little known state law that allows the government to get bank records without a search warrant. Under the 1971 law, the government is permitted to get a person’s bank records, phone records and even possibly email records without showing ‘probable cause’ that a crime has been committed; they can get these items under the lesser standard – ‘reason to suspect’ a crime. The information is obtained by way of a subpoena issued via a secret hearing called a ‘special inquiry judge proceeding’. This proceeding allows a judge to issue a subpoena for evidence such as bank, phone or email records, at the request of a prosecutor who has reason to suspect a crime has been committed. The person whose records are obtained is not even necessarily informed of the subpoena, and he doesn’t even really have a right to challenge the validity of the subpoena regardless of whether his is charged with a crime. Thursday’s decision upheld a conviction of a man who authorities claim swindled $1.7 million in a real estate scam.  The majority of the court (there were two dissenting justices) equated the special inquiry judge proceeding to a federal grand jury, which has the authority to issue subpoenas for bank records at any time.

Regardless of the situation, if you or a loved one is facing a criminal charge, you should immediately seek the advice of a qualified Seattle criminal defense attorney before resolving their case. 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 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 a driving theft, a driving offense, prostitution, possession and/or distribution of drugs, assault, property destruction or some other law violation, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys immediately.

A Simple Indiscetion may not be so Simple

December 9th, 2015

Tis the season for shopping; it is the holidays after all. What some may not realize, however, is that a small indiscretion like shoplifting can sometimes have major consequences, not only in the criminal courts but also on a person’s immigration status. Not only is there a potential for losing the ability to remain in the U.S. and/or the ability to enter the U.S., but even for those who can remain in the U.S., there are risks associated with losing job opportunities, green card eligibility, and the prospect of losing or delaying eligibility to apply for U.S. citizenship – all based on that perceived – but very impactful – small indiscretion.

Section 212 of the Immigration and Nationality Act lists various grounds on which a person can be found “inadmissible” to the United States. One of these grounds involves crime; if a person is convicted of, or admits to having committed, a “crime involving moral turpitude.” there could be significant immigration consequences pursuant to Section 212. The issue of what crimes involve ‘moral turpitude’ is not always clear, and the definition of that term has evolved over the years through case law. However, it is currently fair to say that theft offenses are almost universally considered to be ‘crimes of moral turpitude’ under the law. Therefore, committing even a minor or petty theft can have serious consequences to one’s immigration status.

The consequences of one’s indiscretion are not just limited to his/ her admission into the United States, they also apply to one’s deportability/ removability.  A crime of moral turpitude (inclusive of theft) committed within five years of admission to the United States could result in a person’s removal from the country. This is so if the charge has a maximum ‘possible’ (note, not ‘actual’) sentence that is one year or longer.

When applying for citizenship it is necessary for a person to show that he has been a person of “good moral character” for the past five years (three years for certain persons married to U.S. citizens). If there were any convictions during that period for crimes including moral turpitude, the applicant will face challenges and could be denied citizenship.

Based on the foregoing, it should go without saying that Individuals facing a criminal charge (theft or otherwise) and having any sort of immigration issue should immediately seek the advice of a qualified immigration attorney as well as a Seattle criminal defense attorney before resolving their case. 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 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 a driving theft, a driving offense, prostitution, possession and/or distribution of drugs, assault, property destruction or some other law violation, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys immediately.