House Bill1371/ Senate Bill 5289 in the Books

February 15th, 2017

As is well known by now, not only is texting and driving against the law in Washington State, but so is holding a cell phone to one’s ear while driving. Curiously, however, the current law does not prohibit the use of apps while driving, which undoubtedly is just as dangerously distracting as texting or talking on the phone.

glasses on bookIn light of the foregoing, there is now a movement to ‘update’ Washington’s distracted driving law. It is called the Driving Under the Influence of Electronics Act, HB 1371/ SB 5289. The intent, of course, is to create safer roadways throughout the State of Washington by banning drivers from operating a phone (or any electronic device for that matter) with more than one finger. In short, one would not be able to hold his phone and scroll his social media, take photos or send emails while operating a motor vehicle.

If enacted, the bill would increase fines for distracted driving, and the offense would go on a person’s driving record and be reported to insurance companies. Currently, cell phone violations are deemed non-moving violations, are not reported to the Department of Licensing and don’t impact insurance.

If you or a loved one is cited or charged with a law violation, 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 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 cited with an infraction or arrested and/or charged with misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or a felony, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys at (206) 441-0900.

New Bias/Hate Crimes Dashboard Unveiled

February 7th, 2017

Always seemingly on the cutting edge of policing, the Seattle Police Department (the “SPD“) recently launched acop in rearview Bias/Hate Crime Data dashboard, which is, of course, timely considering these heated political times. The data is composed of alleged citywide bias crime reports, and is tracked on three separate levels:

1. Malicious Harassment, which includes the motivation of a suspect and his/her belief about the victim’s race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation, handicap (mental, physical or sensory), homelessness, marital status, age, parental status, gender or political identity. These types of crimes usually involve an assault, property damage or threat of harm of some kind against another.

2. Crimes with Bias Elements, which involve bias comments made during the commission of any crime.

3. Non-Criminal Bias Incidents, which include offensive and/or derogatory language that, although hurtful, does not meet the level of a crime and may fall under the category of protected free speech, but may cause a level of fear and concern in the targeted community, and may make the victim feel harassed, intimidated or offended.

SPD has indicated that the newly formed dashboard will be updated monthly, and will join other publicly available data on the City’s open data site. SPD has said that regardless of the level of offense, bias incidents are a priority. Because of this, one should expect that the interpretation of bias will be expansive and the net canvassing the city to curtail bias and harassment will be broad. The unfortunate result is that good people can sometimes get caught up in the enforcement crackdown.

If you or a loved one is cited or charged with a law violation, 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 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 cited with an infraction or arrested and/or charged with misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or a felony, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys at (206) 441-0900.

Amnesty not the Only Answer?

January 30th, 2017

Earlier this month new California legislation was proposed that would forbid courts from suspending a person’s driver’s license simply because that person can’t pay her tickets or fines. This is a policy that SQ Attorneys thinks would also fit well in Washington State. This is so because the current policy disproportionately targets low-income drivers and can send people into a cycle of job loss and more poverty. In short, the privilege of driving should not be connected with the size of a person’s wallet. Sadly, some folks are actually limited to low-paying jobs because their license is suspended; people’s lives can literally be unraveled by one unfortunate traffic ticket.

This licensing issue actually garnered national attention after the U.S. Department of Justice found similar laws in Ferguson, Missouri, burdened poor residents with “crippling” debt, according to a 2015 report.

In California the new bill would prevent courts from suspending someone’s license simply because they can’t afford to pay a ticket. Opponents of the bill have argued removing the penalty would eliminate a tool to help the state collect traffic fines; thecop in rearview argument is that the bill eliminates any incentive for individuals to pay outstanding debt for traffic violations. Opposingly, supporters say there are other, more effective ways to collect fines, including putting people on payment plans and garnishing their wages.

California’s new bill comes more than a year after California started an amnesty program to help low-income people pay traffic tickets by reducing fines for those who are too poor to pay them and allowing some residents to have their licenses reinstated. Some cities in Washington State (i.e. Seattle) also periodically offer amnesty programs like that of California. Let’s hope that in the not so distant future, Washington State follows California’s lead beyond just amnesty.

If you or a loved one is cited or charged with a law violation, 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 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 cited with an infraction or arrested and/or charged with misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or a felony, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys at (206) 441-0900.

Lights, Camera … Action!

January 24th, 2017

In following up with one of our recent posts about Seattle Police Officer (‘SPD‘) body cameras, we at SQ Attorneys note that SPD has now officially begun the testing of body cameras. As of late December 2016, a select group of SPD bicycle officers are now using body cameras while on duty. It is anticipated this is the first step in the global outfitting of hundreds of other SPD officers with recording technology. SPD plans to outfit 850 officers with cameras by the end of 2017.

SPD is one of many law enforcement agencies nationwide adopting, or otherwise procuring, the body camera devices. Although SPD has over the past several years recorded officer contacts, it has done so with car dash-cams, not body cameras. Body camera recording has thus become the next generation of memorializing officers’ interactions with the public.

As noted in our previous post, the body cameras are made by Taser International/ Axon, which claims to be a ‘top player’ in the body camera market. The body cameras being used are about the size of a pager and attach to an officer’s chest. Lights on the cameras shine when they are in ‘record’ mode.

If you or a loved one is cited or charged with a law violation, 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 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 cited with an infraction or arrested and/or charged with misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or a felony, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys at (206) 441-0900.

Distracted Driving About to Encompass more Acts

January 18th, 2017

On Tuesday January 17, 2017, a House bill was filed that would, among other things, make it illegal to hold a smart phone, tablet, or other communications device while driving in the State of Washington. The legislation basically says that if operating a phone or device takes more than one finger, then it had better wait until you’re safely off the road. If passed, the restriction(s) outlined in the bill would take effect on January 1, 2018.

Interestingly, over the past two years previous attempts to update our laws governing smart phone use while have failedman holding criminal book. But, as many already know, texting while driving is currently illegal, as are conducting conversations while holding a cellular phone next to one’s ear. Although the 2017 bill is aimed at tightening the screws on automotive cell-phone use, it still fails to address other hazards of hands-free devices, such as when a driver holds a conversation by phone (not held to the ear), or looks at a dashboard-mounted phone or tablet screen.

A companion bill is now in the works and will soon be filed in the Senate under the title Driving Under the Influence of Electronics Act.

If you or a loved one is cited or charged with a law violation, 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 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 cited with an infraction or arrested and/or charged with misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or a felony, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys at (206) 441-0900.

Say Cheese!

January 10th, 2017

Sobriety Test - SkepticalThe Seattle Police Department (the “SPD”) is now closer than ever to using body cameras while enforcing city, state and federal laws. Many folks seem to think body cameras have already been in use in Seattle, but that is simply not the case. When a Seattle police officer says ‘… you are being … video recorded …’ he actually is referring to his car dash-cam. That is about to change, however.

After receiving a $600,000 grant from the Department of Justice in September 2015, the SPD spent approximately six months testing a slew of body cameras. Taser International’s Axon was the clear winner. Axon’s technology and platform received the highest marks during testing, scoring nearly double the points against two competing body camera vendors. Based on these findings, the SPD, in November of last year, chose Axon as its supplier of body-worn video cameras. It is a cloud-based digital evidence management platform; the City of Seattle is the 35th major city to select Axon’s platform for videoing police interactions.

In law enforcement, the use of body cameras is a highly touted means of improving community policing by capturing crucial evidence in the field. Last year, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray called the Department of Justice grant a “huge boost” to SPD’s efforts to strengthen accountability.

Regardless of their potential positive impact on policing, questions have been raised about the impact of video cameras on privacy rights. For example, there have been concerns raised about whether the public has a right to see footage of things like a domestic violence victim, or whether access to footage should be limited to only those involved in encounters with police, not the general public. Notwithstanding these concerns, body cameras – and the videos produced by them – will soon be a staple of Seattle law enforcement.

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.

Tragedy Serves as a Reminder

January 6th, 2017

In reflecting upon the fatal hit-and-run tragedy that took place near Green Lake on Sunday evening (see January 6, 2017 Seattle Times article: ‘Hit-run suspect had victim’s grocery cart stuck to grille, charges say’) it is important to remind oneself of his or her duties when involved in a vehicle accident.

To that end, we provide the following:

Pursuant to RCW 46.52.020, when involved in an accident with another attended vehicle, a person shall immediately stop at the scene of such accident, or as close thereto as possible, and fulfill the following requirements: (1) give his or her name, address, insurance company, insurance policy number, and vehicleglasses on book license number, and (2) exhibit his or her vehicle driver’s license to any person struck or injured or the driver or any occupant of, or any person attending, any such vehicle collided with, and (3)render to any person injured in such accident reasonable assistance, including the carrying or the making of arrangements for the carrying of such person to a physician or hospital for medical treatment if it is apparent that such treatment is necessary or if such carrying is requested by the injured person or on his or her behalf. It is noted that under no circumstance shall the rendering of assistance be evidence of the liability of any driver for such accident.

Pursuant to RCW 46.52.010, when involved in an accident with another vehicle that is not occupied or otherwise attended, the driver must immediately stop and either locate and notify the operator or owner of the other vehicle of his/her name and address or leave in a conspicuous place in or on the vehicle struck a written notice, giving the name and address of the operator and of the owner of the vehicle striking such other vehicle.

Sunday’s tragedy is a stark reminder that driving is a privilege not a right and that all drivers must follow the rules of our roadways.

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.

DUI’s, CPS and the Law

December 28th, 2016

book of supreme ctDUI’s are no doubt serious, but getting a DUI with a minor under the age of 16 in the vehicle is even more serious. Not only do the punitive consequences increase significantly, Washington’s Child Protective Services (CPS) will also get involved. This is so because RCW 46.61.507 requires that any time a person is arrested for DUI and there is a child under the age of 16 in the vehicle, CPS must be notified. The purpose of the CPS referral is not so much as to remove the child from parental custody, but rather to perform a child welfare check.

Shortly after the CPS referral is made, a CPS caseworker will contact the driver for purposes of conducting an interview and a child home welfare check. This first contact is usually made within 24-48 hours of the arrest with the home visit scheduled as shortly thereafter as possible. The CPS caseworker will interview the parents or custodians, view the home and look into the general well-being of the child.

If a caseworker believes (after reviewing the police incident report and interviewing the guardians) that the statute was more likely than not violated, a finding of “founded” will be entered into the guardian’s CPS file. If there have been no previous CPS referrals and the child does not appear to be in any danger, this will more often than not end the inquiry. However, if there have been previous referrals or the child does appear to be in harm’s way, the investigation will continue and further CPS action may follow.

Any person accused of DUI or Being in Actual Physical Control of a Motor Vehicle While Under the Influence – whether a minor was in the car or not – should consult with a qualified Seattle DUI attorney. A qualified and respected Seattle DUI lawyer, among other things, can quite possibly save the aggrieved person 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. We have said it before and will say it again, 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.

The Deterrence Effect

December 20th, 2016

As is becoming seemingly clearer by the day, DUI’s are a real ‘hot button’ in Washington State; the State of Washington is uber serious about reducing incidents of impaired driving. In fact, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission has specifically stated that it is working on ways to “increase impaired driving arrests” and “improve prosecution” of individuals who get behind the wheel when they have been drinking or using any other substances that could potentially interfere with their ability to drive a motor vehicle safely.

The Washington Impaired Driving Work Group in fact made pointed recommendations about DUI reduction strategies. These strategies include: (1) Lowering the number of DUI convictions before being punishable as a felony; (2) Increasing mandatory minimum penalties; (3) Mandatory ignition interlock devices; (4) Sobriety checkpoints, and (5) Greater penalties for refusing breath/blood tests. These all appear to be deterrent strategies supported by Washington’s residents, and our local, county and state governmental bodies.

cop in rearviewAccording to the government, despite their aggressive efforts to reduce DUI’s, impaired driving continues to be a problem in Washington State. They estimate that 46% of all traffic fatalities in Washington are due to people driving while impaired.

It should go without saying, but being charged with a DUI in Washington State can be an extremely inconvenient, embarrassing, and expensive occurrence in a person’s life. The minimum fine for a first DUI offense is $940.50, and the maximum is $5000. The average fine imposed on all offenders is approximately $3,711. Drivers in Washington State who get a DUI will generally see their insurance increase by an average of $466.80 per year. If a person’s license is suspended/ revoked because of a DUI and he wants to continue driving, he will have to have an ignition interlock device installed on his vehicle. Even first-time offenders will have to keep the device for at least a year. Installation and monthly fees will cost about $1,300 per year. Requesting a DUI DOL hearing even costs $375. Mandatory drug treatment may be required if convicted of DUI. The fee for driver’s license reinstatement after a DUI arrest or conviction is $150. Finally, where a person lives may also have a significant impact on how much a DUI charge will ultimately cost.  In short, one’s purse or pocket book may get significantly lighter after being cited for DUI.

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.

Mandated Arrest and RCW 10.31.100

December 14th, 2016

What many unassuming folks seem to be invariably shocked to find out is that, pursuant to RCW 10.31.100(2)(c), police officers responding to an incident of domestic violence are mandated by law to make an arrest if the officer has probable cause to believe that a domestic violence assault or other serious domestic violence offense took place within four hours of the law enforcement contact.

Upon arrival, if an officer determines that a ‘family or household member‘ has assaulted another, the officer is absolutely required to arrest the person he/she believes to be the primary aggressor in the incident. Washington state law requires a mandatory arrest for violations of No Contact Orders and Civil Protection Orders too. See RCW 10.31.100.

Usually, a person arrested for a domestic violence offense will be held in jail until he/she appears before a judge. That is unfortunately often the following day. At the hearing, the Court may require the allegedcriminal law book offending party (the ‘defendant’) to sign a No Contact Order as a condition for release from jail prior to trial. This of course means the person cannot go home, and probably will need to find a place to live for weeks if not months while things get ‘ironed out’. Undoubtedly, this can cause significant stress to all involved, and can often end up destroying the family unit.

Often prior to arraigning a domestic violence defendant, a ‘domestic violence advocate’ will attempt to contact the alleged victim to determine whether he/she wishes to have a No Contact Order (‘NCO’) issued. That said, it is typical for the prosecution to request, and the court to impose, an NCO regardless of whether one is desired by the person to be protected. For obvious reasons, this too can be a frustrating development for the family.

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.