Seattle Criminal Defense Attorney

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Posts made in March, 2011

By on Mar 30, 2011 in Communication, Court, Criminal, Negotiation, Noah Weil | 0 comments

I have a profile set up at a website dedicated to attorney/client matching. This site rates you based on years in practice, amount of client reviews, whether you paid for premium status, etc. As a way to distinguish yourself from other attorneys, you can answer questions posted by people with legal issues. You get points for answering questions, and who doesn’t like points? I like to answer the occasional question for the same reason I keep this blog: I like talking about the law. People give you a little puzzle to solve, and it’s fun to help out. If you know your stuff, you may look competent to other attorneys, which can come in handy once in a while too. It’s not a great way to meet actual clients. Think about it: you’re interacting with people who are per se looking for simple and free advice. Those are not the kinds of people who frequently understand the value of hiring an attorney to address a legal issue. I’ve been personally emailed a few times by people who liked my answers, but it was basically just to get more free advice. There’s a limit, ethically, to what I can offer someone without actually being their attorney, as well as the business component. I saw one of these questions the other day. It was a little different from the norm and it got me thinking. Here was that question: Q: Is it legal to contact a prosecutor to persuade them to dismiss your case? I was thinking about writing theprosecutor an email requesting she drop my assault 4 charges at the arraignment based on lack of evidence and the fact that the person in question did not press charges and said they were not going to testify in court, also letting her know i do not wish to waste the courts time or money nor do I want to go though the court process. is this a good or bad idea? What I answered was that while this is legal, it’s a hideously bad idea (actually a common answer on that site). I told him the prosecutor must have a belief in the veracity of the charges or she wouldn’t bring them,...

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By on Mar 25, 2011 in Court, Criminal, DUI, Noah Weil, Police | 9 comments

Of all the questions I get asked nothing is more important than how to interact with the police. It’s from that interaction that all consequences flow. Those consequences include being charged with a crime, fees and other expenses, and of course, jail time. If those consequences are something you want to avoid, read on. Before I get into specific advice, a couple overarching themes: If the police are talking to you, you are at risk Miranda is a subject for another time, but here’s the short version: Police do not have to read you your rights If you are in custody, and if you are being interrogated, then if they don’t read you your rights then your statements can be tossed out. Just your statements, not the charges. No automatic dismissal for not being read your rights. Thus, if you volunteer statements to the cops, there’s a decent chance they can and will be used against you. The trick, if you want, is that these rights don’t magically appear when the police tell you about them. They are your Rights, inherent and yours until you waive them. So that first line, “Anything you say can and will be used against you” is very true. And it will be true before and after the police remind you of it. If the police are talking to you in a non-casual, non-victim setting, it means they are investigating a crime. The police don’t know if you’re a criminal or an accomplice. Their job is to investigate the crime and book the people who may have contributed to it. If you are talking to the police, you are putting yourself at risk for both being charged with a crime, and being found guilty of that crime. That is their purpose in talking to you. Why make it easier for them? Which segues into the next point: The police are not your friends I know it sounds obvious, but people tend to try to please authority figures in stressful situations. A perfectly normal instinct, but not a good idea here. The reason is simply that the police have a job to do, and benefiting you is not it. This has nothing to do with...

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By on Mar 18, 2011 in Civil, Department of Licensing, DUI, Noah Weil, Procedure, Sentencing/Penalties | 0 comments

Being charged with DUI is the beginning of a particularly unpleasant process. It’s not that it’s the worst crime you could be charged with, because obviously it’s not. Both Washington and the Feds have plenty of crimes that can result in the death penalty or decades upon decades in prison. The most jail time one faces on a DUI is a year, and realistically you need to have a string of DUIs to be facing those numbers. But most people don’t conspire to kill a government official or set off a weapon of mass destruction. People commonly drink and people commonly drive too soon after drinking. DUI is quite common, and in the intersection of nasty penalties and likelihood of occurrence, DUI has to top the list. One of those penalties is the subject of today’s post: the Department of Licensing (DOL) suspension. Read on for a thorough description though you can read the quick breakdown here. Most people realize that if they’re convicted of DUI, their driver’s license will be suspended or revoked for some amount of time. The exact length depends on the blood alcohol content, whether the person refused the breath test, and their prior DUI history. You can see the entire DUI penalty grid here. As you can see, the length of license loss quickly escalates (along with costs and mandatory jail time). But what people don’t realize is that just by virtue of being charged with DUI, your license gets suspended. That’s right, before you were even adjudged guilty in a court of law your license gets yanked. It’s not illegal because driving is a privilege that DOL can withdraw. But it sure seems unfair if the charge later turns out to be bogus. Now while one’s license to drive is a privilege, it is also what’s known as a property right. That means that before the government, in this case the DOL, can take it away they must afford you Due Process rights, guaranteed by the 5th and 14th Amendments. Due process can be rather complex in the law, but procedurally this translates into Notice of the pending suspension, and Opportunity to be heard to contest it. All that simply means is the...

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By on Mar 13, 2011 in Court, Criminal, Noah Weil | 1 comment

Being charged with a crime in Washington State, or anywhere else for that matter, is not a fun experience. It is invasive and accusatory, with serious penalties at stake. Luckily it’s a process many people will never experience. But you may. Or a family member. In any event, you help yourself and the people you care about if you understand how our criminal court system is set up. We have two categories of courts in Washington: State and Federal. Federal courts deal with federal action, e.g. federal crimes and federal lawsuits. Federal crimes include white-collar action, bank robbery, terrorism, and some drug offenses. I don’t have exact figures, but it’s at least 100x more likely to be charged in state court than federal. Thus this post will be focusing on the Washington State system. That system is broken down into categories. At the bottom are the municipal courts and district courts, i.e. city courts and county courts. These are called Courts of Limited Jurisdiction because they are not authorized to preside over every single possible case. In the criminal realm they have jurisdiction over only misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors. What defines a misdemeanor versus a felony? It’s simple enough, crimes receive their classification based on the maximum sentence a judge could impose. A misdemeanor has a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and $1,000 fine, a gross misdemeanor has up to 365 days in jail and a $5,000 fine, and anything that could result in over a year in prison is classified as a felony. Felonies are broken into three sub-categories. Ranging from least serious to most, felonies are either Class C, Class B, or Class A felonies. So back to the courts. Above the limited jurisdiction courts is Superior Court. Superior Court is simply a court that can hear any case, felony or otherwise. But while Superior Court can hear misdemeanors, they choose not to, because otherwise they would be swamped in more minor cases, while the lower courts would have nothing to do. So arrangements are set up to distribute the cases based on what is being charged, and where the incident took place. For example, let’s say you were pulled over because the police officer thought...

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By on Mar 10, 2011 in Noah Weil | 0 comments

Welcome to the launch of the blog for the Law Office of Noah Weil! As an attorney and writer, I’m a fan of keeping people informed of legal issues in Washington State. I plan on updating often, so check back frequently. I’ll be using this space to give general overviews of Washington law, recent developments in the system, and whatever else people want to read about. If you have an idea for a post topic I would love to hear it! As a reminder, this blog is provided as informational services only. Please do not post personal or confidential information here, as I am not your until attorney until and if we sign an agreement changing our relationship. Everything provided here is for informational purposes only. For more discussion on this office, please check out the...

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The facts and circumstances of your case may differ from the matters in which results and testimonials have been provided. Every case is different, and each client’s case must be evaluated and handled on its own merits.