Seattle Criminal Defense Attorney

Ph# (206) 459-1310

Posts made in May, 2012

By on May 24, 2012 in Case Law, Communication, Court, Criminal, Misconduct, Procedure | 0 comments

“If you shoot at a king you must kill him”.-Ralph Waldo Emmerson Today’s post is about judges, the Honorable be-robed members of the bench. This includes looking at judges’ roles and powers, characteristics of good judges, and what options a practitioner has for removing a judge from hearing a particular case. What Judges Do Judges represent the highest end of the judiciary, one of three branches of government. As we learned in Civics, the three branches are broken down in their role with the law: The legislative branch writes the laws. The executive branch executes and enforces the laws. The judicial branch interprets the laws. All branches have their checks and balances, but that relationship is beyond the scope of this post. For a detailed treatise on the interrelation of the branches, you can go here. What is important for an attorney and their client is the division of responsibilities between a judge and a jury. In legal circles, the standard line is that judges decide issues of law and juries decide issues of fact. What does that mean? Issues of fact include: Is this person credible? Was the defendant at the scene? And ultimately, did the prosecution prove the facts they needed to prove for a jury to find the defendant guilty? Issues of law are more subtle, but much more pervasive. On the macro level, a judge can decide whether or not a statute that defines a crime is even constitutional. This situation is rare but it does come up once in a while. There are some things that come up every case. A judge defines, with help from the attorneys, the instructions to the jury. The instructions are important because they tell the jury what they have to decide to find someone guilty or not guilty. There are pattern instructions for most crimes but judges have the final say on how the law defines a crime. But the most common role for a judge is ruling on what is or is not allowed into evidence. The importance of these rulings can’t be overstated. If something is evidence the jury gets to see it. If it’s not evidence, the jury won’t.  Here’s a simple analogy: let’s say...

Read More

By on May 10, 2012 in Court, Criminal, Domestic Violence, DUI, Immigration, Sentencing/Penalties | 0 comments

One of my roles as an attorney is to make specialized, legal information accessible to my clients. Clients hire attorneys to handle their matters. A reasonable attorney needs to make sure his or her clients know how severe any allegations are. But the purpose of today’s post is to remind people that any allegation of criminal conduct should be taken very, very seriously. I bring this up because I was reminded last week about the gap between an attorney’s knowledge and their clients’ knowledge. I had a bunch of phone calls with people, some clients, some potential clients, where we talked about whether a particular charge was a felony or a misdemeanor. I told multiple individuals that their charges weren’t felonies and each one replied “Oh good, I’m glad it’s not serious.” On the one hand they’re right — a felony is more serious than a misdemeanor. But that’s like saying a house fire is less serious than a forest fire. Even though a felony is technically more serious than a misdemeanor, both require your absolute, immediate attention. Let’s talk about why misdemeanors are so serious, and why they deserve a serious response. What is the difference between a felony and misdemeanor?   First let me be a bit more specific. There are actually multiples categories of crimes in Washington. These include misdemeanors, gross misdemeanor, felonies, felonies with indeterminate sentencing, aggravated felonies (aggravated murder), and juvenile crimes. For the purposes of simplicity today, I’ll going to lump misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors together. All the other non-juvenile crimes I’ll shorthand to felonies. I’ve compared the legal definition misdemeanors versus felonies before, but basically the difference is one of severity of punishment. Misdemeanors carry maximum sentences of 364 days or less. Felonies carry maximum sentences of one year or more. Felony convictions also have consequences beyond jail time. Generally, felons aren’t allowed to own firearms, vote, or serve on juries. They can be excluded from employment options more easily (more on that below). And felons often encounter restrictions on travel and relocation. Some felons also are subject to specialized sentences, like registering as a sex offender. Misdemeanors, by contrast, don’t automatically include these losses of civil rights. People convicted of misdemeanor...

Read More
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.