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.

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.