Budgetary Hogwash

July 27th, 2015

An interesting article in the Seattle Times today claimed that Washington State’s 39 counties are draining their budgets by fighting crime and keeping their communities clean. See ‘Washington counties struggling with criminal-justice costs’ (hereinafter, the ‘Article’). According to the Article, counties spend about $120 million annually just to cover the cost of indigent defense in Felony matters. The Article waxes on about ways the counties try to get creative on stretching their crime enforcement budgets, and claims that a big concern is not centered on ‘lightening strike’ cases, but, on the whole, the overall structural pressures criminal justice budgets face. The Article says the counties claim that many ‘decisions’ are being based on available resources and their allocation, and whether criminal charges should even be filed regardless of the legitimacy of the allegations.

What is concerning about the Article is that regardless of all of the pontificating on how to solve the problem, many charges like DUI (which have a legitimate built in legislative structure to deal with reduction of charges and punishment … and hence the reduction of costs and overruns) have been largely ignored … at least in King County. Most, if not all, King County DUI cases that several years ago would have been easily and quickly resolved are now bogged down in our legal system, undoubtedly costing tax payers voluminous amounts of money due to the overarching change in the negotiating policy by the King County Prosecutor’s Office (which, of course, has been denied by the KCPO, but is certainly evident in application). Cases that just two years ago would have been resolved in two or three hearings now can take up to a year or more to resolve. These cases now involve numerous hearings, month after month. Law enforcement personnel’s’ time in court via testimonial hearings has increased tenfold, and many officers are required to return to court over and over again without testifying because of court congestion. In short, the dockets in district court have sky rocketed in motion hearing and jury trial volume. As a direct result, monies paid to jurors, court staff and law enforcement personnel most certainly have also increased.

It is one thing to be tough on crime, but to claim out one side of your mouth that the budget is tight and bankruptcy is near, and then out the other side of your mouth deny any culpability for the problem created is somewhat shameful and certainly disingenuous. The legislature has provided a means to soften budgetary concerns, at least as it relates to some misdemeanors and district court matters. If counties such as King County choose to no longer effectively use what the legislature has provided they have no legitimate basis in rhyme or reason to claim they are ‘struggling with criminal justice costs’, and they most certainly should not be entitled to any reimbursement by way of a petition to the state for help to pay for police, lawyers, court personnel and other ancillary costs. Managing a budget is part of the job and tax payers expect, or otherwise demand, that our governing bodies to do it effectively.

Now, more than ever, if you are cited for DUI in Washington state it is smart to immediately seek the assistance of a Seattle DUI lawyer. A qualified and respected Seattle DUI attorney, among other things, can quite possibly save a person thousands of dollars in court and insurance fees, extent of loss of privilege to drive and amount of jail time to be served. Washington 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.

The crackdown is evident, here is why

July 22nd, 2015

Why is the prosecution ‘cracking down’ on DUI’s? Why have things gotten so difficult to negotiate in the DUI world over the past several years? Why are so many DUI cases being set for trial and being litigated without any meaningful negotiations taking place between the prosecution and the defense? And why are so many jails woefully overburdened with DUI inmates?

Well, one only need to look at the local section of the Seattle Times today and read the 3rd to last paragraph of the paper’s article on Richard Hicks, ‘Renton man guilty in fatal boat crash’. The third paragraph reads, in part: ‘In 2002, Hicks was arrested for investigation of DUI and reckless driving in King County. When evidence of the level of alcohol content in his system was suppressed in court, prosecutors amended his charge to reckless driving … Hicks pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year in jail, with all the time suspended.’ In short, Mr. Hicks already had an alcohol related incident on our roadways, and in the eyes of the government, ‘got away with one’.

The government, it seems, feels that over the years there simply has been too many people stopped for DUI that are ‘getting away with one’ and in turn they have shut off the ‘let’s make a deal’ spigot. As a direct consequence of this non-tolerance policy, the cold reality is that there are now more DUI cases going to trial, significantly more DUI convictions taking place, and a major influx of DUI inmates in our jails. Will this dragonian position on a non-mens rea crime result in fewer folks choosing to drink and drive? Only time will tell, but it sure seems that is what the government is banking on.

Now, more than ever, if you are cited for DUI in Washington state it is smart to immediately seek the assistance of a Seattle DUI lawyer. A qualified and respected Seattle DUI attorney, among other things, can quite possibly save a person thousands of dollars in court and insurance fees, extent of loss of privilege to drive and amount of jail time to be served. Washington 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.

Don’t Despair, Hire an Attorney

July 19th, 2015

Theft or shoplifting charges in Washington State can be a felony if the property in question is valued at more than $750, or a gross misdemeanor (3rd Degree Theft) if less than $750. Since theft is considered to be a crime of moral turpitude, a conviction can result in employment termination or prevent future employment or housing opportunities.

As noted above, Third Degree Theft (Theft 3) includes stolen items worth $750 or less. Theft 3 is a Gross Misdemeanor and includes possible jail time that can be up to 364 days or house arrest, fines up to $5000 and court ordered restitution. Second Degree Theft (Theft 2) includes stolen items worth between $751 and $5000. Theft 2 is a class C felony and includes jail time up to 5 years, fines up to $10,000 and court ordered restitution. First Degree Theft (Theft 1) includes stolen property with a value exceeding $5000. Theft 1 is a class B felony and includes jail time up to 10 years, fines up to $20,000 and court ordered restitution. Those numbers and days sound pretty scary. But do not despair, there are many things an attorney can do to protect you and to resolve the case with a favorable outcome. The ‘fix’ may take time, but is often achievable with good old fashioned hard work and experience.

If you or a loved has been arrested or charged with a crime like Theft in Washington State it would be smart to immediately contact a Seattle criminal defense attorney to protect your rights and interests. The Seattle criminal defense attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified and reputable Seattle criminal defense lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those arrested for crime all across Western Washington and the Greater Puget Sound region. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the criminal allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances of the given case. So, whether cited for Theft, prostitution, possession and/or distribution of drugs, assault, property destruction or some other crime, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys immediately.

The Unfortunate Consequence

July 10th, 2015

Some Washington gross misdemeanor crimes require that a person be immediately booked into custody, namely (1) domestic violence charges and (2) second offense DUI’s that occur within a ten year period of time. Under Washington law these crimes require that a person see a judge before she can be released from custody. God forbid the person is arrested on a Friday. In that situation the person is unlikely to see a judge until the following Monday! Yikes.

When the person actually does go to court, the judge reviews a statement of probable cause to determine “Conditions of Release.” This document is provided by the government, so you can only imagine that it is written to substantiate the government’s belief that the person committed a crime. After determining probable cause the judge will either: (1) release the person on her “Personal Recognizance” (or as some say, “Promise to Appear”), or order that the person not be release unless she posts bail. Either way, the court sets ‘conditions of release’. Such conditions may include: (1) Limitations on where the person can go; (2) Prohibitions on the consumption of alcohol, marijuana and other non-prescribed drugs; (3) Prohibitions on a person’s right to possess firearms; (4) Prohibitions on a person’s driving or requirements that she not drive a car that is not equipped with an ignition interlock device; (5) Prohibitions on person’s right to travel freely; (6) Requirement that a person attend pre-trial probation or court monitoring; (7) Requirement that person wear an alcohol monitoring device; and (8) Requirement that person be on electronic home monitoring.

The conditions are intended to keep the community safe from any further wrongful conduct by the person, and also to ensure that the person appears for all future court dates. These conditions can be expensive and very cumbersome … and lord knows they can be embarrassing too – wearing shorts or a skirt with a bracelet on the ankle often attracts strange looks and challenging questions that folks aren’t too keen on trying to explain.

If you or a loved has been arrested for domestic violence or DUI in Washington State immediately contact a Seattle criminal defense attorney to protect your rights and interests. The Seattle criminal defense attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified and reputable Seattle criminal defense lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those arrested for crime all across Western Washington and the Greater Puget Sound region. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the criminal allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances of the given case. So, whether cited for domestic violence related malicious mischief, assault, property destruction or some other crime, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys immediately.

DV Awareness Front and Center

July 7th, 2015

The Women’s World Cup is – as they say – in the books. What a phenomenal victory and stellar performance by the US Women’s National Team. And with such accolades comes a platform for public awareness.

Hope Solo, the US goal keeper and current Seattle Reign player, is ensuring her voice is heard with regard to the impact of domestic violence allegations. She says that she is done playing the victim. As most of us all know by now Solo was the defendant in a domestic violence case in 2014, wherein the charges brought against her were ultimately dismissed after several contentious court battles with the prosecuting attorney.

Regardless of the dismissal, Solo claims she lost countless endorsements, and that her name and reputation were blemished; she is now compared to the likes of Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson. In short, she says that “from here on out, no matter what happens, I’ll forever be associated with domestic violence.”

And therein lies the significance of this short post; let Solo’s statement be a lesson to everyone: A simple allegation of domestic violence can forever blemish one’s persona. It can impact job opportunities and public perception; the impact goes beyond just family. It has the potential of creating a lifelong public stigma. Unfortunately, in our current political and legal climates, prosecutors error on the side of guilt, not innocence. A claim of domestic violence, no matter how seemingly trivial, will result in criminal charges being filed and court proceedings moving forward. One charged with domestic violence best be prepared.

If you or a loved has been arrested for a domestic violence related crime in Washington State immediately contact a Seattle criminal defense attorney to protect your rights and interests. The Seattle criminal defense attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified and reputable Seattle criminal defense lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those arrested for crime all across Western Washington and the Greater Puget Sound region. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the criminal allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances of the given case. So, whether cited for domestic violence related malicious mischief, assault, property destruction or some other crime, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys immediately.

Warrants still in Vogue

June 26th, 2015

This past Monday the US Supreme Court’s more liberal members, acting as the court’s majority, ruled that law enforcement is not carte blanche allowed to inspect hotel and motel guest registries; they either need an owner’s consent or a judge’s permission via a warrant. The ruling most likely will have a much broader impact than just hotel and motel registries, and serves as notice that warrantless searches done to assist in the curtailing of prostitution and illicit drug dealing will not be tolerated.

A group of hotel and motel owners challenged a Los Angeles ordinance because they objected to the fact that it allowed the police to look at the registries at any time of day or night without the owner’s consent and without a warrant. Justice Scalia, who is well known to be a ‘strict constructionist’ with regard to his legal views, noted that the majority’s basis for its ruling and alternatives to searching registries without a warrant or owner authorization was “equal parts ‘1984’ and ‘Alice and Wonderland’”, and that the majority had struck a needless blow to a barely intrusive law enforcement practice. In other words, Justice Scalia saw no problem with carte blanche searches of hotel and motel registries.

If you or a loved has been arrested or charged with a crime in Washington State it would be smart to immediately contact a Seattle criminal defense attorney to protect your rights and interests. The Seattle criminal defense attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified and reputable Seattle criminal defense lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those arrested for crime all across Western Washington and the Greater Puget Sound region. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the criminal allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances of the given case. So, whether cited for prostitution, possession and/or distribution of drugs, assault, property destruction or some other crime, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys immediately.

Watch for those Pesky Aggravators

June 24th, 2015

In Washington, DUI penalties can increase if a person’s DUI arrest includes one of many aggravating factors. Typically, a first-time DUI conviction in Washington comes with a driver’s license suspension of 90 days, as well as a fine of between $350 and $5,000, and at least a day of jail time. In addition to these penalties, a person convicted of DUI also has to complete an alcohol awareness class, a victim’s panel, and is generally required to install an ignition interlock device on their car for a period of one year. If there are aggravating factors present, however, these penalties will be increased.

One aggravating factor that can increase DUI penalties is having a breath or blood test result of .15 or greater. In that situation, instead of facing a minimum jail time of one day, it’ll be two days, and the minimum fine will rise from $350 to $500. Additionally, instead of a 90 day license suspension, the suspension will be one year. If a person refuses a breath test he will be facing these same penalty increases, except the license suspension will be for two years, not one.
Another aggravating factor that can impact DUI sentencing is being arrested for drunk driving while there’s a passenger in the car under 16 years old. Penalty increases for a ‘minor’ in the car range from the minimum jail time being increased from one day, to two days, to a substantial and unsavory increase in the range of fines from $1,000 to $5,000. Have a passenger 16 years of age or younger in the car will also add another six months to the time a person is required to keep an Ignition Interlock device in their car.

In addition to the foregoing, there are several other factors that the court is permitted in its discretion to take into account when choosing how to punish a person convicted of DUI. These factors include, but are not necessarily limited to, whether there were other passengers, regardless of age, whether there was an accident that led to the DUI arrest, whether there were any injuries or any property damage, and whether you the person was caught driving on the wrong side of the roadway.

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.

Got Deferred?

June 9th, 2015

We here at SQ Attorneys often get asked if someone can ‘defer’ a DUI. What the question is inquiring about is whether a DUI can be dismissed by way of a ‘deferred finding’, wherein the person’s DUI is dismissed if the person stays out of driving trouble for a year, completes a traffic safety course and pays a fee/ fine pursuant to IRLJ 3.6

A deferred finding applies to infractions, not crimes. They apply to cases like speeding, failing to use a turn signal, and inattention to driving, not to DUI, Reckless Driving or Negligent Driving First Degree. The latter two can sometimes be resolved by a ‘deferred sentence’, wherein the person is ‘convicted’ of the charge for some period of time, and if the person successfully complies with the terms of their sentence during that period of time the case will be dismissed. However, during the period of time it is a conviction on their record. A DUI can be resolved by way of a ‘deferred’ … however the deferred is neither a deferred finding nor a deferred sentence, it is a ‘deferred prosecution’. See RCW 10.05. A deferred prosecution involves a five year probationary period, inclusive of two years of alcohol/ drug treatment consisting of three phases with a de-escalation of intensity throughout the two years. It also requires, among other things, that the person maintain an ignition interlock device for a minimum of 1 year. In short, a deferred prosecution is neither a deferred finding nor a deferred sentence.

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.

Supremes Rule by not Ruling?

June 4th, 2015

On Monday the United States Supreme Court sent out a loud and clear message. The Supremes rejected Arizona’s appeal of a law that would have denied bail to immigrants here in the United States illegally. The dubious Arizona law had been struck down last year by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which said that our constitution’s protection for liberty applies to all persons in the United States, not just U.S. citizens; people under arrest have a right to an individual hearing on whether they may be released from jail before trial. The Supremes simply refused to weigh in on the issue, and would not hear Maricopa County, Arizona’s argument that immigrants who were in the county illegally were not likely to appear for their court hearings if released from jail. This decision seems to be counter to ICE’s stepped up emphasis on cracking down on illegal immigrants; clearly it would appear that the left hand is not too concerned with what the right hand is doing.

If you or a loved, whether here legally or not, is arrested or charged with a crime in Washington State it would be smart to immediately contact a Seattle criminal defense attorney to protect your rights and interests. The Seattle criminal defense attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified and reputable Seattle criminal defense lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those arrested for crime all across Western Washington and the Greater Puget Sound region. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the criminal allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances of the given case. So, whether cited for assault, property destruction or some other crime, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys immediately.

Another Crackdown in Seattle

May 25th, 2015

Another crime crackdown is in the works in the City of Seattle. Seattle is out to squelch hate crimes by stepping up its efforts to reduce malicious harassment around the city. Mayor Murray announced this past Thursday, along with Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole, that the city is going to make a concerted effort to reduce crimes against people based on their sexual orientation. The increased effort comes after a number of violent attacks in the Capitol Hill area.

To initiate this plan, local businesses, educational institutions and organizations will be provided with decals and information on how to report hate crimes around the city. In addition, there will be training on when to call 911, how to shelter crime victims until police arrive and proactive outreach about working with the police department’s LGBT liaison officer.

Sometimes good people make bad mistakes. None of us are perfect, and sometimes our mistakes result in criminal charges. This is where SQ Attorneys fits into the picture. If you or a loved one is arrested for a crime in Washington State it would be smart to immediately contact a Seattle criminal defense attorney to protect your rights and interests. The Seattle criminal defense attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified and reputable Seattle criminal defense lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those arrested for crime all across Western Washington and the Greater Puget Sound region. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the criminal allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances of the given case. So, whether cited for assault, property destruction or some other crime, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys immediately.