It Bears Repeating …

April 12th, 2015

It cannot be said enough and bears repeating …when the police are called during a domestic dispute in Seattle or King County, Washington an arrest almost always results. Generally speaking, if a person is accused of any unwanted physical contact or breaking of property, that is sufficient ‘evidence’ for an arrest to be made. If there are allegations of unwanted physical contact, Domestic Assault charges are normally filed; if there are accusations of damaged property, Malicious Mischief charges or Property Destruction charges are usually filed.

It is a common misunderstanding that after a domestic violence arrest, the alleged victim can decide to press or drop charges. In Washington State it is the prosecutor’s decision to file charges or dismiss the case, not the alleged aggrieved party. Whether fair or not, a prosecutor will often press charges against the wishes of the alleged victim. In fact, if the accuser wants to recant or take back statements made to the police, they can be charged with making a false statement to the police, which in itself is a gross misdemeanor.

Because of the current state-of-affairs in Washington DV cases, a Seattle domestic violence attorney should be involved as early on in the process as possible. During the early stages of a case, a DV lawyer can sometimes prevent: (1) Criminal charges from being filed; (2) Incriminating statements from being made; (3) More serious or additional charges from being filed; and (4) Court orders prohibiting contact with the accuser.

In light of the foregoing, a person charged with a domestic violence should immediately seek the assistance of an experienced Seattle domestic violence defense attorney. An experienced Seattle domestic violence defense lawyer can level the playing field and protect an accused’s rights against unfair criminal charges and orders of protection. The law firm of SQ Attorneys has a record of successes in domestic violence defense in and around King County, Washington. If arrested for domestic violence call SQ Attorneys at 206.441.0900 for the answers to your important questions, or to schedule an appointment for a free and completely confidential consultation. It will be the best decision you make all day!

Limits on Over Charging

March 31st, 2015

Pursuant to a recent Washington State, Court of Appeals, Division One case, State v. Rich, it is now clear that a DUI charge, in and of itself, does not mean that someone is also guilty of reckless endangerment; in short, there has to be some additional factor(s) to show that someone else’s life was put in danger in order for such a charge to be upheld.

In Rich, the defendant was pulled over by a King County Sheriff’s Deputy after the deputy spotted her driving. The vehicle she was driving had been reported stolen about a week earlier. Shortly after stopping the defendant’s car, the deputy noticed a “seven to nine-year old boy” sitting in the passenger seat of the vehicle. After the stop the Defendant underwent two blood alcohol tests. The test results revealed breath alcohol concentration levels of .188 and .183. The Defendant was charged with DUI and Reckless Endangerment. Eventually she was convicted of both charges. The verdict was subsequently appealed and ultimately Division One found that the state did not successfully prove reckless endangerment because there was no evidence of erratic or dangerous driving, nor was there any evidence of endangerment of any other motorists or pedestrians.

The Rich ruling is very important because over the years prosecutors have resorted to adding Reckless Endangerment charges to DUI cases when there are passengers in the car. It is a tactic that prosecutors have used throughout King County to ‘encourage’ defendants to plead guilty to the primary charge of DUI in exchange for a dismissal of the Reckless Endangerment charge. Division One of the Washington Court of Appeals has now seemingly put an end to this charade, and is putting prosecutors on notice that they should not file charges that have insufficient facts to pursue.

If cited for DUI in Washington state be smart and immediately seek the assistance of a Seattle DUI lawyer. A qualified and respected Seattle DUI attorney can quite possibly save a person thousands of dollars in court and insurance fees. Washington DUI laws are far too complicated for any ol’ attorney to handle. Be smart … hire a qualified and skilled Seattle DUI attorney when arrested for DUI in Washington State.

Is it BS? Or is it BS?

March 30th, 2015

In Washington State domestic violence cases, both Prosecutors and domestic violence advocates alike often tend to treat alleged victims as if they were suffering from batterer’s syndrome (“BS”). BS is a syndrome that is characterized by a relationship where the victim is manipulated by power, control and violence by a dominant and controlling partner.

A DV advocate will, throughout the entire course of a domestic violence case, attempt to convince the victim of the ‘aggressors’ ‘escalating’ behavior.  A prosecutor, at trial, will attempt to educate the jury about the dynamics of a domestic violence relationship. In short, either directly or indirectly. the accused will be labeled as a ‘batterer’.  In reality, most of us know that life is just not that cut and dry; relationships are after all … complicated. While domestic violence advocates and prosecutors may hold on to certain harsh beliefs about those arrested for domestic violence, an experienced Seattle domestic violence attorney will demonstrate to a jury that the government has a weak case, or no case at all; a Seattle domestic violence lawyer will add color to a picture that may otherwise seem so black and white.

A person charged with a domestic violence crime needs an experienced Seattle domestic violence defense attorney who can level the playing field and protect his rights against unfair criminal charges and orders of protection. The law firm of SQ Attorneys has a record of successes in domestic violence defense in and around King County, Washington. If arrested for domestic violence call SQ Attorneys at 206.441.0900 for the answers to your important questions, or to schedule an appointment for a free and completely confidential consultation. It will be the best decision you make all day!

The Staged Evolution of DV

March 18th, 2015

By now we are all familiar with what is considered domestic violence … domestic violence is defined as: (1) Physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault, between family or household members; (2) Sexual assault of one family or household member by another; or (3) Stalking of one family or household member by another family or household member. RCW §26.50.010. However, it is doubtful that folks are clear on the stages of a domestic violence case in our criminal court system. So without further ado, SQ Attorneys herein outlines the stages of a Domestic Violence Case:

Stage One – The reporting of some type of violence: Typically, the process of charging a person with domestic violence will begin when the alleged victim or a witness makes a 9-1-1 call to report a crime. When law enforcement arrives at the scene, they will question the parties separately and decide whether there is probable cause for an arrest.

State Two – The Arrest: If law enforcement determines that there is probable cause (which more often than not occurs), they will arrest the alleged offender and place him in jail, without bail, typically for 24-48 hours until he is able to appear before a judge. The law requires officers to arrest one of the parties if contact is made within four hours of the alleged incident.

Stage Three – The Release: If the prosecutor does not file charges, the alleged offender may be released but charges may be filed in the future. If charges are filed other conditions may include, but are not limited to, the imposition of a no contact order and bail. If the prosecutor files charges, then the alleged offender will enter his plea at an Arraignment Hearing.

Stage Four – The Pre-Trial Conference: A pre-trial conference will take place after the arraignment to allow the judge, the prosecutor, and the defense attorney to confer and evaluate the progress of the case. The case can, and often is, resolved at this stage. That said, the resolution typically involves some type of negotiated outcome.

Stage Five – The Motions: If at the pre-trial conference(s) the case cannot be resolved amicably, a motions hearing will take place to determine whether the facts and the evidence gathered are admissible at trial.

Stage Six – The Readiness Hearing: A readiness hearing will take place before trial to determine whether the parties are ready to move forward with an actual trial. All discovery and the disclosure of evidence should be completed by this stage.

Stage Seven – Trial: Assuming the case has not yet been resolved by this stage, the case will move forward to trial and a verdict will be rendered by a jury. Most cases do not go to trial and it is important to understand that the only person that is taking a risk by going to trial is the Defendant himself. Statistically speaking, more often than not the government, not the defendant, wins at trial; a good analogy to the win/loss ratio is to think of the government as a Casino in Vegas and the Defendant as the Gambler. Do most folks who play black jack in Vegas walk away from the table a winner? Of course not, if that were the case there would be no Vegas. That said, it is ‘possible’ to walk away a winner, and in fact people do walk away from the table ‘up’. So … like a Vegas gambler, it is possible for a defendant to ‘win’ a verdict of ‘not guilty’ in court, it just isn’t more likely than not to occur. And alas … this is why it is important to try and resolve the case short of a full blown trial.

If arrested for a domestic violence it is imperative that you immediately contact a Seattle domestic violence attorney to protect your rights and interests. Even the seemingly ‘silly’ case is now taken extremely seriously, and the government will proceed on the case, especially in light of the recent hype given to the issue. 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 assault, property destruction or some other domestic violence related crime, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys immediately.

Got DUI? Get Towed!

March 9th, 2015

As most of us know, being convicted of DUI will result in punishment, sanctions and embarrassment. What many folks don’t know, however, is that simply being arrested for DUI can result in a penalty. Since the summer of 2011, Washington police officers making DUI arrests have been required to tow a person’s car from the scene and hold it at the tow lot for a period of 12 hours. The officer no longer has a choice. It is mandatory, not discretionary.

The law requiring a person’s vehicle to be towed after a DUI arrest is known as Hailey’s Law. It was created to ensure that an alleged drunk driver does not return to his car and drive it following his arrest and release from custody.  The law itself is named for a woman who was seriously injured when struck by a person who had been arrested for DUI, returned to his vehicle upon being released, and then drove again despite being commanded not to by law enforcement.

Under Hailey’s Law, a car is to be towed and held at the tow yard for at least 12 hours; the only exception to this requirement is that if the registered owner of the vehicle is not the arrested driver. The hold is not free. As with any tow hold, there is an exorbitant fee to be paid to get the car back ($350-$500). Thus, tow yards are at the ready, eagerly awaiting that fateful call from law enforcement personnel.

If cited for DUI in Washington state be smart and immediately seek the assistance of a Seattle DUI lawyer. A qualified and respected Seattle DUI attorney can quite possibly save a person thousands of dollars in court and insurance fees. Washington DUI laws are far too complicated for any ol’ attorney to handle. Be smart … hire a qualified and skilled Seattle DUI attorney when arrested for DUI in Washington State.

Tagged ‘DV’

March 3rd, 2015

We have written and talked about domestic violence in the past, but what is it … what is ‘domestic violence’? Some inquiring minds want to know. So we provide the following:

Domestic violence is a situation that occurs between family members, people living together, or people in romantic relationships. It is not so much a crime as it is a phrase with consequences; domestic violence is, in essence, a ‘tag’ that is added to crimes involving family members, people living together or those in a romantic relationship, including, but not limited to, malicious mischief, assault, and a bevy of property crimes.

What many people don’t know or realize is that, generally speaking, whenever police are called to respond to allegations of domestic violence they are mandated by law to make an arrest, no matter the circumstances. For this reason, domestic violence charges are often brought on behalf of people who never intended them to be brought in the first place. Other complications can also arise when a domestic violence charge is brought against someone in our criminal courts. For example no contact orders are issued and our 2nd Amendment is impeded; the impact on families can be extreme, and can affect housing, bills and child custody.

In domestic violence situations alleged victims are often opposed to the prosecution. Rarely, however, does the prosecutor give weight to this person’s desire to not have the case move forward in the court system. The global impact on the family can thus be extreme and sometimes catastrophic.

If arrested for a domestic violence it is imperative that you immediately contact a Seattle domestic violence attorney to protect your rights and interests. Even the seemingly ‘silly’ case is now taken extremely seriously, and the government will proceed on the case, especially in light of the recent hype given to the issue. 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 assault, property destruction or some other domestic violence related crime, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys immediately.

Oh the Monetary Pain of it All

February 27th, 2015

As our Washington law makers see it, if you get caught driving under the influence you are putting yourself, others and even property at risk, so the measly ticket itself is not the only price you should pay. In addition to jail time and a hefty fine, drivers who receive a DUI will be saddled with alcohol education fees, lost wages, ignition interlock fees, probation fees and a slew of other punitive monetary sanctions.

One of the longest lasting monetary fallouts of a DUI conviction is the car insurance increases. In Washington, increases will last on a driver’s record for no less than three years and quite possibly up to five years. Drivers convicted of a DUI are required to maintain SR-22 insurance, which not all insurers support. After a DUI conviction the average Washington driver will see his or her car insurance increase by approximately 54.24%; the typical Washington driver will pay $466.80 extra each year for insurance after his DUI conviction.

Once convicted of a DUI, the provider may choose to drop coverage altogether, or alternatively may increase payments beyond what another insurance provider is willing to do for someone. This is so because insurance companies weight DUI convictions differently. In light of this, it may be a good idea to consider getting several insurance quotes so as to ensure the cheapest coverage.

If cited for DUI in Washington state be smart and immediately seek the assistance of a Seattle DUI lawyer. A qualified and respected Seattle DUI attorney can quite possibly save a person thousands of dollars in court and insurance fees. Washington DUI laws are far too complicated for any ol’ attorney to handle. Be smart … hire a qualified and skilled Seattle DUI attorney when arrested for DUI in Washington State.

Domestic Violence is: FRONT AND CENTER

February 21st, 2015

It is clear that domestic violence now-a-days is a real live wire, a real hot button. Some would even say we as a nation have seemingly moved beyond the need for a stereotypical victim; the need for bruising and blood, and a horrifying cry for help emblazoned on a 911 tape for all to hear. Not that that was ever really required, but to the uneducated (and by that we mean unfamiliar with the ‘actual’ DV laws in Washington) that is what is envisioned when the general public thinks of ‘domestic violence’.

As evidenced by the mounting campaigns on TV, via the news and by word-of-mouth, significant steps are being taken to educate about and prevent assaultive behavior, and to try more domestic violence cases in our criminal courts. This is none more evident than the recent scandals in the NFL involving multiple players and their loved ones. As everyone knows by now the NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, aggressively issued more stringent standards for dealing with alleged sexual assaults and domestic violence by the league’s players. Recently the changes were unanimously approved by the NFL owners.  The changes did not come easy, however, and required a massive public outcry that the league was too soft on such conduct.

The court’s, like the NFL and the MLB, are now fully aware that citizens, like fans, are unwilling to support behavior that on any level is violent or degrading to another person. It is only reasonable to suspect that both judges and prosecutors are taking a more proactive role against domestic violence in light of the fact that the public is increasingly more aware of the scope of domestic violence and what the law defines domestic violence to be.

The significance of recent domestic violence events across the nation, and the increased ‘public awareness’, should not be underplayed or discounted. It has sparked a real and tangible change in cultural norms, and a movement of institutions to reform themselves.

So now more than ever folks must be aware that although there most definitely are cases that have bruising, blood and even a horrific 911 call, the bulk of the cases in our court system are cases involving a push, a slap, a punch to the wall or even a simple finger to the chest – a chest poke. The ones that make the news, the ones that are ‘juicy’ tabloid stuff, the so called ‘perfect victim’ or the ‘poster child for domestic violence’ are the exception, not the norm in our courts, and everyone (and we do mean everyone) should be quite clear on this fact now that there has been an ‘awakening’ due to the recent events and media hype over the issue. Domestic violence is now very much front and center, and the definition of the act is quite broad and all encompassing.

If arrested for a domestic violence it is imperative that you immediately contact a Seattle domestic violence attorney to protect your rights and interests. Even the seemingly ‘silly’ case is now taken extremely seriously, and the government will proceed on the case, especially in light of the recent hype given to the issue. 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 assault, property destruction or some other domestic violence related crime, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys immediately.

Assessments Equal Public Records

February 13th, 2015

Anytime someone is convicted of a DUI or a charge that is reduced from a DUI in Washington State they are put on probation with the court for a period that is ‘up to’ five years. Probationary conditions can consist of many things. For example, the court will order that the person commit no criminal law violations, not have a BAC of .o8 or greater within two hours of driving, not have any alcohol/ drug related infractions, not to refuse a breath or blood test if lawfully requested to take one by law enforcement, and to pay fines, costs, fees and assessments etc.

In addition to the foregoing, as part of any DUI conviction (or reduced charge) the court will mandate that a person get an alcohol/ drug evaluation by a person or agency that is state certified to conduct such an assessment. These assessments must be filed with the court and thus are open to public viewing and are deemed a ‘public record’. Some folks have recently inquired as to whether their assessments can be hidden, sealed or otherwise non-visible. Well … unfortunately, due to recent changes to Washington’s Public Disclosure Rules (Supreme Court General Rule 31) alcohol/drug evaluations can be viewed by the public, and thus not sealed. The defense bar is currently exploring ways to protect our DUI clients’ privacy interests related to alcohol/ drug assessments since every DUI requires an alcohol/drug evaluation. In some instances attorneys and alcohol/drug treatment agencies have resorted to providing bifurcated supplemental reports to file with the court hoping this will meet the courts’ assessment requirements. Over time, we will see how the courts deal with or otherwise accept these supplemental reports. There are competing interests at play and unfortunately no solid answers are available at this time, that said though … so far so good.

If cited for DUI in Washington state be smart and immediately seek the assistance of a Seattle DUI lawyer. A qualified and trained Seattle DUI attorney will sift through the myriad and numerous defenses in a Washington DUI case. So if facing a DUI, do not go it alone, and do not just hire some ‘general’ practitioner. Washington DUI laws are far too complicated for any ol’ attorney to handle. Be smart … hire a qualified and skilled Seattle DUI attorney when arrested for DUI in Washington State.

DUI’s, Kids and CPS

February 6th, 2015

Recently we at SQ Attorneys have had a few DUI cases involving child passengers.  As we all know by now, a DUI conviction in the State of Washington can … by itself … without any passengers (young or old) … have grave consequences.  Add a passenger or two and the consequences can, and will, go up, and additional charges may even be filed.  Add a passenger or two under the age of 16 and … well … you will be faced with even more mandatory penalties, and a visit from a friendly (or not so much so) Washington Child Protective Services (CPS) representative.

RCW 46.61.507 requires that when a person is arrested for either DUI or Being in Actual Physical Control of a vehicle while impaired (Physical Control) and the driver’s child, under the age of 16, is in the vehicle, Washington State Child Protective Services must be notified. The purpose of the CPS referral is not to remove the child or children from parental custody, but rather it is to perform a child welfare check to make sure that the child is not in any immediate danger of being harmed by the parent.

Once contacted, a CPS caseworker will reach out to the driver for purposes of conducting an interview and a child home welfare check. Generally 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 the caseworker assigned believes that, 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. On the other hand, 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.

It is always important to consult with a Seattle DUI lawyer in the event of any DUI arrest. In the event there is a minor involved, consulting with a Seattle DUI attorney is perhaps even more crucial considering the enhanced penalties one faces. The Seattle DUI lawyers that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are a highly skilled and experienced team of practitioners immensely dedicated to aggressively protecting the rights and interests of those accused of DUI in Western Washington. The Seattle DUI attorneys at SQ attorneys create success by working with both law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that their client’s integrity and overarching humanity, as well as the totality of the facts and circumstances related to the allegations, are considered in creating the most just, fair and equitable resolution possible.