37 Newbies with WSP

August 25th, 2016

The ranks of our Washington State Patrol (“WSP”) grew by 37 earlier this month. At a ceremony on August 3, 2016, Chief Justice Barbara Madsen swore in the new troopers, and Governor Jay Inslee presented them with their commission cards. The ceremony was riff with pageantry and tradition, inclusive of a color guard, our national anthem and a prayer.

Sadly, the newly minted troopers only make a relatively minor dent in our state trooper shortage; the agency still has approximately 145 open jobs, and a wave of retirements is expected to take place over the next several years. The Washington State Patrol Academy produces approximately three cadet classes each biennium, which accounts for about 100 to 120 new troopers. Historically, however, only about four to six percent of the total number of applicants makes the grade to become WSP troopers.

In an effort to deal with recruitment and retention issues, Washington lawmakers recently boosted trooper pay at the Washington State Patrol. It is hoped this will incentivize increased interest in becoming a WSP trooper. Time will tell, but we should all be concerned that the WSP (as with all law enforcement agencies) sees fit to not hire just anyone, and focuses on maintaining a high standard and expectation for our WSP troopers. Anything less could pose a danger to the safety of our citizens – both those who need and seek help, and those who are accused of violating the law.

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.

Emphasis DUI Patrols Next Week

August 19th, 2016

The Washington State Department of Transportation, in collaboration with state law enforcement agencies, by way of the state’s strategic highway safety plan – ‘target zero’, will again be emphasizing DUI patrols. Next week four local law enforcement agencies (the Washington State Patrol, the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office, the Yelm Police Department, and the Olympia Police Department) hope to cut down on the number of DUI’s with a two day (8/25 and 8/26) emphasis patrol in their respective jurisdictions. Target Zero aims to eliminate all traffic related deaths in Washington State by the year 2030. The hope is that by initiating and publicizing these patrols people will be more inclined to take a cab, call Uber or have a designated driver if they plan to drink or do drugs.

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

LFO’s and Indigency

August 14th, 2016

It is well known that upon a criminal conviction a person faces the possibility of spending time in jail, but what most folks don’t know is that there is another consequence that follows a criminal conviction – legal financial obligations (‘LFO’s’). LFO’s are designed to pass court costs and prosecution costs onto the convicted person instead of taxpayers.

The common concern, however, is what happens when a person cannot pay LFO’s; in other words, the offender is indigent. Well … in theory … indigent defendants are supposedly not required to pay for costs that they cannot afford. That said, courts in the past often neglected to worry about an offender’s ability to pay LFO’s. This caused problems and resulted in many offenders being punished for something that was not within their control – indigency.

Earlier this year a Washington Court of Appeals case addressed this problem. In State v. Newman, Division II of the state appellate courts agreed with the defendant’s contention that it was wrong for his attorney to not object to discretionary LFO’s. Though his conviction wasn’t overturned and his probation and incarceration were upheld, the appeals court remanded the case back to the trial court so that the defendant’s indigence status could be reviewed and considered before any discretionary LFOs could be imposed.

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.

Arrest v. Conviction

August 2nd, 2016

Frequently when we first meet with a potential client at SQ Attorneys they are initially confused about the difference between what is an arrest, and what is an actual conviction. So … in an effort to clear up the misunderstanding, we explain below:

An Arrest:

An arrest happens when a police officer has what is termed ‘probable cause’ or ‘reasonable suspicion’ to believe that someone might have committed a crime. The standard is really not all that high and is, in essence, based upon a reasonable person standard, taking into account both a subjective (an inside or personal point of view) and an objective view point (an outside or impersonal point of view). In reality, all that is needed for an arrest is the fact that an officer suspects someone of committing a crime; this broad standard leaves officers with a lot of discretion and often can lead to a bogus arrest.

A Conviction:

Unlike an arrest, which – as noted above – can happen virtually anytime an officer has a suspicion that a crime has occurred, a conviction takes place when either (1) a prosecutor has been deemed to have proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law, or (2) a defendant charged with a crime pleads guilty in a court of law. In order for a conviction to happen, the aforementioned arrest has to turn into a formal accusation of a crime via a charging document filed in a criminal court (known as a ‘complaint’) by a prosecuting attorney.

Obviously the difference between an arrest and a conviction is quite important. An arrest means that a police officer has reason to believe that someone might have done something illegal; it does not mean they are guilty. A conviction means that person either by a plea or finding beyond a reasonable doubt did commit a crime; it does mean they are guilty. Mixing the two concepts up can have a wide ranging impact on a person’s life. Sadly, it can, and does, impact jobs, friendships and even the ability to rent or lease things.

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.

How Serious/ Very Serious

July 31st, 2016

How serious is a domestic violence related charge? This is a question commonly inquired about when someone initially calls SQ Attorneys. The answer is that a domestic violence allegation is incredibly serious and can be a misdemeanor, a gross misdemeanor or even a felony; if the person is arrested (which is often the case when the police receive a DV related 911 call) he can, and most likely will, go to jail – this is so because Washington law mandates an arrest based upon a domestic violence related call if the police contact the parties within 4 hours of the alleged incident.

A misdemeanor domestic violence charge is filed in a district or municipal court of limited jurisdiction, and can be either a simple misdemeanor (punishable by a maximum of 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine), or gross misdemeanor charge (punishable by a maximum of 365 days in jail and/or a $5,000 fine). If the accused is convicted of either charge, the court typically places you on probation for two and possibly five years.

A felony domestic violence charge is filed in a superior court, and can range from a class C felony to a class B or A felony, which is the most serious charge possible in Washington state. Class C felony crimes are punishable by up to five years in jail. Class B and A felony crimes are punishable from ten years up to life in prison or even (gulp) … death.

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.

Pet Friendly Haven Granted

July 25th, 2016

Just a quick reminder that domestic violence is taken extremely serious in Washington State. This is so regardless of how small or insignificant someone may think the incident is, or whether someone is actually physically, or even emotionally, injured. The government is always looking at ways to curb domestic violence and protect the aggrieved party; officials note that one barrier to leaving an abusive relationship is fear that family pets will be harmed or otherwise not cared for in retaliation for leaving.

In light of this, and as yet another example of the crackdown on domestic violence, the Clark County YWCA in Vancouver, Washington recently received a $5,600 grant to convert a domestic violence shelter into a pet-friendly haven for victims of domestic violence. The grant allows for the YWCA, the Humane Society of Southwest Washington, and the Mill Plain Animal Hospital to work together in providing pets belonging to shelter residents a safe haven and veterinary care and supplies. If successful, one can only presume pet friendly shelters will be popping up in other sectors of the state.

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.

CIMT

July 19th, 2016

What is a crime involving moral turpitude (‘CIMT’)? Generally speaking, there is not an enumerated list of CIMT. That said, ‘moral turpitude’ is generally defined as conduct that “is inherently base, vile, depraved, and contrary to accepted rules of morality and the duties owed to other persons, either individually or to society in general.” In essence, a CIMT as any “reprehensible conduct” that involves any form of scienter, which means that a person has knowledge of the “wrongness” of his conduct prior to actually doing it. This is why acts of negligence are generally not considered CIMT, while acts of recklessness are. The key test for moral turpitude is the presence of evil intent.

Acts against property are typically considered acts of dishonesty and thus are generally deemed CIMT, These types of crimes thus include not only denial of professional licenses, employment opportunities but also negative immigration consequences and possible deportation issues. Juveniles and students charged with property crimes also may face academic consequences.

Some prime examples of crimes that may constitute CIMT are: (1) Shoplifting/Theft. Theft charges can range from the misdemeanor level to the felony level. Typically, theft charges stem from stolen merchandise, but can include theft of personal property as well. If the items are valued at under $750, the charge would amount to a misdemeanor. If over $750, a felony charge would typically apply. (2) Malicious Mischief. A person can be charged with malicious mischief if there is an allegation of intentional property damage. This could include broken property or defacement of property, such as graffiti. Malicious mischief can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the amount of damage caused. Penalties for this type of crime could include jail time, house arrest, a fine, probation, community service and/or restitution. (3) Forgery. If a person creates, falsifies or alters a written instrument (like a check, will, certificate, license, passport etc.), he or she could be charged with forgery, a Class C Felony in Washington State. The maximum penalty for forgery is 5 years in jail and a $10,000 fine. (4) Burglary. Burglary includes residential burglary as well as breaking and entering into any other type of property. If a deadly weapon is used or someone is assaulted during the burglary, enhanced penalties may apply. For instance, the use of a gun in the commission of the crime could enhance penalties by three years, a knife by two years. (5) Robbery. The crime of robbery occurs when a person takes the property of another by using force. If armed with a deadly weapon at the time, the charge becomes a Class A felony which has a potential for life imprisonment. Robbery is considered a “strike offense” and is subject to Washington’s “Three Strikes” law.

If you or a loved one is charged with a CIMT 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 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 charged with misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or a felony CIMT, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys at (206) 441-0900.

No You Cannot Come In!

July 13th, 2016

Recently SQ Attorneys has been receiving inquiries about one’s safety from police invasion into their living space. In other words, ‘do I have to let the police into my home’? It seems most folks think the answer is ‘yes’, if they are asked, they must permit an officer into their abode. Well, the answer is not that cut and dry. See … there is something called the Constitution. We, as Washingtonian people, are governed by two, our own state Constitution and the United States Federal Constitution. So, such a question really relates to protections and/or exceptions to protections based on our constitutional rights.

As is well known by lawyers, criminal or otherwise, warrantless searches and seizures are per se deemed unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Article I, section 7 of the Washington state constitution goes even further; it offers even more protection to our state citizens. Article I, section 7 creates an “almost absolute bar to warrantless arrests, searches, and seizures.” And the home enjoys a very special protection indeed. The closer officers come to intrusion into a dwelling, the greater the constitutional protection. State v. Schultz, 170 Wash.2d 746, 753, 248 P.3d 484 (2011) (citing State v. Ferrier, 136 Wash.2d 103, 112, 960 P.2d 927 (1998) (quoting State v. Young, 123 Wash.2d 173, 185, 867 P.2d 593 (1994))).

In the absence of exigent circumstances, police may not make a warrantless, nonconsensual entry into a home even when making a felony arrest. Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, 576, 100 S.Ct. 1371 (1980). Exigent circumstances, it must be noted, however, includes the “emergency aid exception”. In other words, in order for law enforcement to justify a limited invasion, it must meet each of the following elements:

(1) The police officer subjectively believed that someone likely needed assistance for health or safety concerns;
(2) A reasonable person in the same situation would similarly believe that there was need for assistance;
(3) There was a reasonable basis to associate the need for assistance with the place being searched;
(4) There is an imminent threat of substantial injury to persons or property;
(5) State agents must believe a specific person or persons or property are in need of immediate help for health or safety reasons; and
(6) The claimed emergency is not a mere pretext for an evidentiary search.

The Washington Supreme Court has made it very clear that “failure to meet any of these factors is fatal to the lawfulness of the State’s exercise of authority.” Schultz at 760 . That is clearly a heavy burden to meet. This is so because it is often times impossible for the government to prove each of these elements.

In Schultz, Sequim police responded to an apartment complex after a resident reported a male and female yelling. Upon arrival, Officers Malone and Hill overhead a man and woman talking with raised voices. Officers specifically recall overhearing a man state he wanted to be left alone and needed his space. An officer knocked on the door and Schultz answered it. Schultz appeared agitated and flustered. Officer Malone asked Schultz where the other occupant of the apartment was. Schultz denied that anyone else was present. Officer Malone told Schultz she heard a male voice in the apartment. Schultz called for Sam Robertson who emerged from a nearby bedroom. The state claimed Schultz stepped back, opened the door wider, and Officer Malone followed Schultz inside. Schultz testified she stepped aside because the officers were entering. Regardless, neither officer requested permission to enter the home, and neither Schultz nor Robertson were told they could refuse the entry/ search. Moreover, neither Schultz nor Robertson asked the officers to leave and/or prevented their entry. Schultz, 170 Wash.2d at 750-751. Eventually, the officers discovered meth and drug paraphernalia.

The Washington Supreme Court held that the officers’ warrantless entry of the home was unlawful, reasoning that at the moment the officers crossed the threshold into Schultz’s apartment, they did not have enough facts to justify an entry based upon the emergency aid exception to the warrant requirement. Id. at 760. The Schultz court acknowledged, however, that courts may consider entries made into a home in the context of a domestic violence threat for reasonableness of the officer’s actions under the emergency aid exception. Id. at 761. The court was equally careful, in like kind, to point out “[d]omestic violence protection must also, of course, be consistent with the protection the state constitution has secured for the sanctity and privacy of the home.” Id. at 756 (citing WASH. CONST. art. I, §7; Ferrier, 136 Wash.2d at 112, 960 P.2d 927 (citing Young, 123 Wash.2d at 185, 867 P.2d 593)).

Upon a review of this holding, it does seem that it is ok to tell an officer you are not interested in them coming into your home. They do not have an absolute right to entry, and in fact law enforcement has some pretty significant restrictions pursuant to our constitutional rights to be free from unlawful searches and seizures.  Folks should not be fearful to say ‘no’ … you cannot come in!

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.

Crime? Don’t delay, Hire a Criminal Lawyer

July 6th, 2016

Many folks ask us at SQ Attorneys — when do I really need a criminal defense lawyer? Well, it is a good idea to hire an experienced Seattle criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible when contacted by police about a crime. This is so whether the contact occurs while ‘in the act’, or when the police are actively investigating a crime, and ask to (1) speak with you, or (2) ‘come down to the station’. The following are three things you should consider on this point

(a) Do NOT hire a lawyer who doesn’t practice criminal law. Although you may know ‘a lawyer’, he/ she may only handle real estate law, divorce law or some other type of unrelated type of law. This is not someone you want handling your criminal case. You want a lawyer who emphasizes their practice in the field of criminal law. Just as you wouldn’t hire a podiatrist to perform your heart surgery, you don’t want to hire a real estate attorney to handle your criminal case.

(b) Do NOT hire a Spokane criminal lawyer for a Seattle criminal case, or vice versa. You want someone who is familiar with the court and its staff as well as the prosecutors. You want someone who ‘knows their way around’ the court house in the jurisdiction where your case is to be heard. Familiarity with the law is good – yes, but equally important is familiarity with the courthouse surroundings and the players associated therewith.

(c) Do NOT try and defend yourself. While representing yourself ‘pro se’ is authorized and is a viable option, you only really want to do that for smaller less ‘involved’ proceedings such as small claims court and/ or minor civil matters; going ‘pro se’ is nothing you want to try doing with a criminal case. Even experienced criminal attorneys wouldn’t choose to defend themselves given the choice – it is a bad idea; emotions trump logic, and that is never good in a criminal court proceeding.

If you or a loved one is 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 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 charged with misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or a felony, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys at (206) 441-0900.

Insurance and DUI’s

July 1st, 2016

If you get caught driving under the influence, the ticket itself is sadly not the only price you will pay. Drivers who are arrested for DUI in Washington State often end up paying attorney fees, alcohol education and evaluation costs, court fees, costs, and assessments and even increased car insurance rates/ premiums.

Often one of the longest-lasting financial impacts due to a DUI conviction relates to car insurance increases. In Washington state, car insurance increases will be maintained on a driver’s record for at least five years after a DUI. In fact, car insurance premium increases for the average Washington driver can be almost 2.5 times the initial fine related to the DUI itself. After receiving a DUI, the average Washington driver will see his or her car insurance possibly increase by as much as 54%. The typical Washington state DUI driver will pay approximately $466.80 extra each year for insurance after his/her DUI. Thus, a first time DUI driver may end up paying almost $2,334.01 more for insurance over the course of five years, which can undoubtedly be a real drain on one’s financial well being.

How can a DUI driver minimize insurance costs after a DUI conviction? Different insurance companies give different weighted scales for driving violations like DUI, and thus the DUI driver’s current insurance carrier may no longer be the cheapest provider for insurance. In consideration of this, it may be a sound decision to shop for new insurance coverage. A DUI driver should seek several quotes from several different insurers, and ask about applicable discounts—including those for vehicle safety features and bundling policies—which may be a viable option, regardless of the person’s driving history.

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