Domestic Violence; Self Defense

June 20th, 2016

In the relatively recent domestic violence case of City of Tacoma v. Driscoll (Wash. Ct. App. Mar. 22, 2016), The Court of Appeals, Division II reversed a conviction, and remanded the case for a new trial because it found that the lower court violated the defendant’s right to present a defense when it excluded the defendant’s testimony about two prior incidents where the victim had attacked him.

According to the facts of the case, a witness had called police to a bus shelter after observing the defendant kneeing the alleged victim in the head. The defendant told officers, however, that he was acting in self-defense. The defendant was subsequently charged with one count of fourth-degree assault involving domestic violence. At trial, the defendant offered evidence of three prior incidents wherein the victim had attacked him. One of the attacks, in fact, had resulted in a charge of second-degree assault against the victim; the other two attacks could not be corroborated by documentation or evidence other than the defendant’s testimony, however. The trial court allowed the defendant to present evidence of the first attack because it was documented, but not the other two attacks. On appeal, the defendant argued that his constitutional right to present a defense was denied when the trial court excluded his testimony regarding the two unsubstantiated incidents.

As all Washington domestic violence criminal defense lawyers know, a self-defense claim requires proof that the defendant had a subjective fear of imminent danger of bodily harm, that this belief was objectively reasonable, and that the defendant exercised no more force than was reasonably necessary. Evidence of a victim’s prior acts of violence known to the defendant is relevant to a claim of self-defense because it can substantiate the state of mind of the defendant, and it can also indicate whether, at that time, the defendant had reason to fear bodily harm. Thus, whether evidence of a prior act of violence was corroborated only goes to the weight of the evidence, not to its admissibility into evidence.

In consideration of the foregoing, the Court of Appeals, Division II concluded that the evidence of the victim’s prior attacks on the defendant were, in fact, relevant because they had a tendency to make the fact that the defendant subjectively feared the victim more likely than not. The court also concluded that the prior attacks were not offered as character evidence against the victim, but to show the defendant’s state of mind at the time of the domestic violence event. The Court of Appeals, Division II ultimately reversed the lower court’s conviction of the defendant and remanded the case for a new trial.

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.

Who Files?

June 10th, 2016

Many Washingtonians think that they, as citizens, have an absolute right to press – or not – criminal charges against another person. Unfortunately, this simply is not the case. That said, it is true that a police officer who responds to a domestic violence related incident is, by law, required to complete a police incident report (this is so whether or not an arrest actually occurs), and if contact is made within four hours of the call – arrest someone. However, the prosecuting attorney – not the citizen/ aggrieved party nor law enforcement – decides whether or not to file criminal charges; this is the case regardless of what the alleged victim wants or even desires the same. If charges are filed, only the prosecutor has the authority to drop them. And to make things even more interesting, a judge must actually approve the prosecutor’s request to dismiss the case. Simply put – the alleged victim is simply a ‘witness’ for the government, and has zero authority to drop (or file) criminal charges. In fact, in many cases the prosecutor will continue to prosecute a case even if a victim refuses to testify.

This method of criminal prosecution can be taxing on families and loved ones, but is not going to change any time in the near future. The reality is, once the police are called there is a good chance criminal charges will follow. In a domestic violence situation, this draconian prosecutorial method can wreck havoc on a family because often the call was made simply to seek assistance in de-escalating a family squabble, not to instigate extended governmental involvement.

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.

Top 10 List

June 7th, 2016

Have you ever wondered where the most DUI arrests arise out of? Although a DUI can take place virtually anywhere on our Washington roadways, there are some locales that seem to be more prone to DUI’s than others. Interestingly, DUI arrestees in Washington (for the period ranging from January 2012 to mid-May 2016) most often reported having their last drink at one of these watering holes:

Number of DUI last-drink arrests Establishment Location
195 Jazzbones Tacoma
163 McCloud’s Saloon Bremerton
145 Jake’s on Fourth Olympia
142 Muckleshoot Casino Auburn
141 Wayne’s Inn Puyallup
109 Schafer’s Bar and Grill Sumner
107 Masa (Closed) Tacoma
86 Rumors Cabinet Bellingham
82 Emerald Queen Casino Fife
81 Lady Luck’s Cowgirl Up Spanaway

Source: Washington State Patrol data

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 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 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.

Mandatory Arrest, it is the Law

May 31st, 2016

What has become clear over the many years we have practiced criminal law at SQ Attorneys is that most Washington residents do not know that when police respond to a domestic violence situation they are required – under our laws – to arrest someone if they arrive on scene within 4 hours of the “911” call. Sometimes, as crazy as it may sound, both ‘participants’ are even arrested. Lest it be said, the police are not going to leave a DV scene without arresting at least one or more persons. This is a truly scary prospect when you consider that often the 911 call is not made in the hopes that a loved one get arrested. To the contrary, usually the call is made in the hopes of de-escalating a situation only; the thought is that if an officer comes they will mediate the situation. Sadly, this is not their job, and this is not at all what they will do. So, in short, be forewarned, if a 911 call is placed due to a family squabble or tiff, and the police arrive on scene … they are going to arrest one of the participants, and there is a solid chance the person arrested will be facing a criminal charge in our Washington criminal court system.

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.

Belt Yourself In; Avoid a Citation

May 23rd, 2016

Recently high school seniors throughout Washington State helped launch a statewide seat belt campaign. The title of this grass roots campaign? “Buckle Up! Your Family is Waiting for You!”

A senior at Asotin High School in Eastern Washington, Stanzi Hay, decided to lead the way by tackling the issue through the development of a yearlong safe driving campaign. She wanted her peers to understand that the decisions made within a vehicle impact countless others’ lives and those of their family members. The campaign resulted in increased seat belt use among fellow-students, and by the end, 96 percent were arriving to school protected by seat belts. Ms. Hay is now taking her message statewide and joining the Washington Traffic Safety Commission to encourage drivers (and their passengers) across the state to buckle up every time they get into a car.

Like Ms. Hay, Washington State law enforcement officers are joining the national ‘Click It or Ticket’ campaign, which is aimed at encouraging everyone to wear seat belts. Extra patrols are now in full force in effect until June 5, 2016. The Washington State Patrol, along with a slew of other law enforcement agencies across Washington State, are participating in extra emphasis patrols in coordination with local county DUI and traffic safety task forces. These extra patrols are part of WSP’s ‘Target Zero’ program, which strives to end traffic deaths and serious injuries in Washington by 2030.

If you or a loved one is cited for a traffic violation you should immediately seek the advice and/or assistance of a qualified Seattle traffic defense attorney. The Seattle Traffic Defense Attorneys that make up the traffic defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified and reputable Seattle traffic defense lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those cited for traffic related violations all across Western Washington and the Greater Puget Sound region. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances of the given case. So, whether you are cited for DUI, Reckless Driving or some other traffic violation, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys at (206) 441-0900.

Warrantless Blood Draw Invalid

May 18th, 2016

Earlier this year the Washington State Court of Appeals addressed the issue of whether a warrantless blood test violated the rights of a defendant charged with a Marijuana (non-alcohol) related DUI. In City of Seattle v. Pearson (Wash. Ct. App. Feb. 29, 2016), a pedestrian was struck by the defendant’s car. The defendant suffered from health conditions for which she was authorized to consume medical marijuana; she had smoked marijuana earlier in the day. After voluntary field sobriety tests, the defendant was arrested for driving under the influence. The officer thereafter transported the defendant to a hospital for a blood draw. Blood was not taken or drawn by way of consent or via a warrant. The results of the test showed a THC concentration of approximately 20 nanograms – the legal limit in Washington state is set at 5 nanograms.

As is well known in the legal community, the U.S. and Washington State constitutions provide protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. This ostensibly includes the intrusion into a person’s body to draw blood. Thus, absent a recognized exception, a warrantless blood draw is deemed unlawful. An exception may exist in the case of exigent circumstances, however. In instances where acquiring a warrant is not realistic because the delay that occurs in the pursuit of securing a warrant would adversely affect factors such as an officer’s safety, enable escape, or allow for the destruction of evidence a warrant may not be required. In the Pearson case the defendant argued, on appeal, that the trial court erred in admitting evidence of the blood test after finding that exigent circumstances existed to justify the warrantless blood test.

The appeals court noted that generally the natural dissipation of THC in a defendant’s bloodstream will amount to an exigency that is sufficient to waive the warrant requirement only where the party seeking to introduce evidence of a warrantless blood test can show that it would lead to the ultimate result of losing evidence that reflects the defendant’s intoxication if the process of obtaining a warrant is postponed or otherwise delayed. The court found that the prosecution failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that a warrant could not have been obtained in a reasonable time before the evidence dissipated. The court further explained that because the prosecution failed to show that obtaining a warrant would have significantly delayed collecting a blood sample, the natural dissipation of THC in the defendant’s bloodstream alone did not constitute an exigent circumstance sufficient to bypass the warrant requirement. The court concluded, therefore, that the warrantless blood draw was not justified under the exigent circumstances exception. The appeals court ultimately reversed the defendant’s DUI conviction. It is refreshing to know that regardless of the fact that a person was injured in the Pearson case, the appeals court did not resort to the all too familiar – ‘result oriented’ ruling, which so often happens in cases involving ‘victims’.

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 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 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.

Tax to Stem Sno-County Crimes

May 10th, 2016

Is there a new criminal justice tax on the way in Snohomish County? That is what officials of the county are considering in response to what they perceive as a growing drug problem and – by association – a spike in local property crimes.

If the tax is implemented it will take effect on January 1, 2017. The revenue generated by the tax would go toward hiring more law enforcement agents and to improving deputy training for how to deal with people who suffer from drug addiction and/or mental illness related thereto, which is, of course, a very good thing.

It is suspected that the new tax would garner a combined estimated $25 million each year for the county of Snohomish and the cities within. Such a tax would allegedly cost residents approximately an additional $94 each year. Time will tell if folks think the ‘fee’ is worth it to stem a growing epidemic of the county, and to help those who are suffering from a challenging addiction that causes them to make foolish and rash decisions to support their unruly habit. In essence, the goal would be to nix the root of the property crime by corralling the addiction. A lofty goal for sure, but one that is certainly achievable if Snohomish County can get its residents on the same page.

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

Make Hay with this Bail

May 3rd, 2016

When a suspect has been charged with a crime, prosecutors often ask the court to impose bail. What is bail you ask? In simple terms, bail is the collateral pledged to the court so as to persuade the presiding judge to release the person from custody while his case is pending – otherwise, he is just sitting behind bars until his case is resolved, which could be months or in some extreme instances even years.

When bail is posted, the court releases the defendant on the understanding that he will return for all of his hearings or the bail posted will be forfeited. In essence, bail is simply a tool that the court uses to assure that the defendant doesn’t walk away or conveniently disappear. If bail is posted by the defendant or his family and/or friend’s, the bail will be returned at the end of the case so long as the defendant attends all of his court appearances, regardless of whether he was found guilty, or not. If a bondsman is used, however, the payment for the bond is, in essence, the fee for the insurance policy purchased and is not refundable – it is, in other words, a sunk cost.

The amount of bail required to get out of jail can vary and is often case dependent. The setting of the bail amount depends in large part on the seriousness of the crime, the defendant’s criminal history, and whether the court thinks the defendant is a danger to the community or a flight risk. Luckily, in many cases the court is not worried about a defendant absconding, and thus will let the defendant go on his own ‘personal recognizance’. In court vernacular this is called PR’ing the defendant.

There are both positives and negatives about our bail system. Bail affords a defendant the opportunity to get out of jail while his case is pending; it allows a person to continue working, care for his family, hire and work with an attorney and pay bills. Many people, however, are simply not able to post bail, and this can be utterly devastating on a number of levels, inclusive of some defendants even being forced to plead to crimes they did not commit so as to get out of jail sooner, not lose their job, their house or even their family. Sadly, this is a disappointing testament to the problems of our bail system in that many people have little choice but to take the second option. That said, at least bail provides some defendants an opportunity to carry on with their lives while charged with a crime.

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.

DV stands for ‘Domestic Violence’

April 25th, 2016

In criminal law, the initials “DV” stand for ‘Domestic Violence’. DV is a moniker or, in essence, a ‘tag’ that is linked to certain delineated crimes wherein the parties involved are alleged to have a familial or dating relationship. Revised Code of Washington (‘RCW’) 10.99.020 lays out the actual definition of what constitutes a DV crime in Washington State. RCW 10.99.020 states, in part:

‘“Domestic violence” includes but is not limited to any of the following crimes when committed by one family or household member against another: (a) Assault in the first degree (RCW 9A.36.011); (b) Assault in the second degree (RCW 9A.36.021); (c) Assault in the third degree (RCW 9A.36.031); (d) Assault in the fourth degree (RCW 9A.36.041); (e) Drive-by shooting (RCW 9A.36.045); (f) Reckless endangerment (RCW 9A.36.050); (g) Coercion (RCW 9A.36.070); (h) Burglary in the first degree (RCW 9A.52.020); (i) Burglary in the second degree (RCW 9A.52.030); (j) Criminal trespass in the first degree (RCW 9A.52.070); (k) Criminal trespass in the second degree (RCW 9A.52.080); (l) Malicious mischief in the first degree (RCW 9A.48.070); (m) Malicious mischief in the second degree (RCW 9A.48.080); (n) Malicious mischief in the third degree (RCW 9A.48.090); (o) Kidnapping in the first degree (RCW 9A.40.020); (p) Kidnapping in the second degree (RCW 9A.40.030); (q) Unlawful imprisonment (RCW 9A.40.040); (r) Violation of the provisions of a restraining order, no-contact order, or protection order restraining or enjoining the person or restraining the person from going onto the grounds of or entering a residence, workplace, school, or day care, or prohibiting the person from knowingly coming within, or knowingly remaining within, a specified distance of a location (RCW 10.99.040, 10.99.050, 26.09.300, 26.10.220, 26.26.138, 26.44.063, 26.44.150, 26.50.060, 26.50.070, 26.50.130, 26.52.070, or 74.34.145); (s) Rape in the first degree (RCW 9A.44.040); (t) Rape in the second degree (RCW 9A.44.050); (u) Residential burglary (RCW 9A.52.025); (v) Stalking (RCW 9A.46.110); and (w) Interference with the reporting of domestic violence (RCW 9A.36.150).

“Family or household members” means spouses, domestic partners, former spouses, former domestic partners, persons who have a child in common regardless of whether they have been married or have lived together at any time, adult persons related by blood or marriage, adult persons who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past, persons sixteen years of age or older who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past and who have or have had a dating relationship, persons sixteen years of age or older with whom a person sixteen years of age or older has or has had a dating relationship, and persons who have a biological or legal parent-child relationship, including stepparents and stepchildren and grandparents and grandchildren.

“Dating relationship” means a social relationship of a romantic nature. Factors that the court may consider in making this determination include: (a) The length of time the relationship has existed; (b) the nature of the relationship; and (c) the frequency of interaction between the parties.’

DV crimes in Washington State (and throughout the country) are taken very seriously by our criminal justice system. Sadly, what often starts out as a simple 911 call in the midst of a heated argument spirals out of control and leads to life shattering consequences upon law enforcement’s arrival on the scene. This is so because in Washington State, law enforcement is mandated to make an arrest if summoned to a DV related crime, no matter how insignificant the matter may seem at the time. There is absolutely no discretion to arrest, the law mandates it. Because of this, families often suffer greatly and relationships become challenged. Regardless, prosecutors generally don’t care too much, and are actually loathe to simply dismiss a case or ‘make it go away’, much to the parties dismay.

In light of the foregoing, it is infinitely important to immediately contact and hire a Seattle domestic violence attorney if faced with a DV related charge. 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.

IID by Law

April 19th, 2016

Any Washington State DUI attorney will tell you that if you are convicted of DUI the law requires that you maintain an ignition interlock device (IID) on your car for a period of at least one year upon eligibility to reinstate your driving privilege. What some may neglect to tell you, however, is that in order to get reinstated, the IID must be maintained for the last four months of the one year period without any positive readings of .025 or greater. If there is a positive reading of .025 or greater, the 4-month period will keep extending itself.

In essence, you will not be permitted to get rid of the IID until you have successfully complied with the four continuous month requirement. This is important to note because some folks think they can simply not drive for a year and thus avoid the IID requirement all together. Unfortunately, this simply is not so. The Department of Licensing (DOL) will not permit a person to get re-licensed until it has been assured that the person literally has no prior IID readings of .025 for the last four months of the one year requirement. In short, (1) folks are required to maintain an IID for at least four consecutive months, and (2) there must be no readings on the device of a .025 or greater during such period. It’s a crazy policy, but that’s the Legislature and the DOL for you, go figure.

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 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 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.