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.

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.