Often in criminal cases involving driving under the influence and/or domestic violence there is documentation in the government’s possession that may be helpful to a defendant’s cause. Unfortunately, the government is not always obligated to give the defendant or his counsel all helpful information in its possession. An example of this is when a defendant requests something from the prosecution (such as an officer’s personnel file) and: (1) the prosecution refuses to provide it, and/or (2) the court declines, for one reason or another, to mandate the document’s disclosure. In these types of situations a defense counsel may be left with no other option but to make a public disclosure request pursuant to the United States Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”).
Getting the government to respond to a FOIA request, however, is not always an easy task. In fact, over the past year several Federal and State agencies have actually increased their use of legal exemptions to keep records secret and out of the public domain. Advocates for open government were encouraged, however, by a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that indicated the Navy’s excuse for keeping certain requested information secret violated FOIA. Although the case was sent back to the lower courts for further litigation, it is hoped that the ruling will signify a change in the way governmental agencies view their disclosure requirements.
All defendants deserve to be able to fully defend themselves, and to question the actions being brought against them. Often such defense tactics include attacking information that perhaps is not directly related to the person’s case and may only have a tangential relationship to the elements of the crime charged. Regardless, the information could make a monumental difference in the outcome of the case, and could be the difference between guilt and innocence. The governments’ ability to dictate such access should thus be limited; upon proper request, public officials should be required to release all information that rightfully belongs in the public domain. After all, is that not what FOIA mandates, and is that not what FOIA is all about?
In many instances, a qualified Seattle criminal attorney can significantly reduce the impact that a criminal charge will have on an individual’s life and profession. The right Seattle criminal lawyer will be worth his/her weight in gold when protecting a person’s rights, freedom and future. The Seattle criminal defense lawyers that make up the litigation team of SQ Attorneys are dedicated to defending those accused of committing a crime. They have the experience, knowledge and resources to successfully defend your case and to protect you from the consequences that may arise as a result of the criminal allegations. Unlike other law firms that practice in many areas of the law, SQ Attorneys is focused on criminal defense in Western Washington.
If you or a loved one is faced with a criminal charge in Western Washington, you deserve the assistance of a reputable and qualified Seattle criminal attorney who will relentlessly defend your case. You deserve a Seattle criminal defense lawyer who has an intimate understanding of Washington’s criminal laws and the legal issues that could win your case. You deserve a Seattle criminal defense lawyer who is not afraid to stand up against the prosecution and aggressively fight for your rights and interests. SQ Attorneys is the right Western Washington law firm for the job. Call for a free initial consultation – (206) 441.0900 (Seattle); (425) 998-8384 (Eastside) – it will be the best decision you make all day.