Seattle Criminal Defense Attorney

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Posts made in November, 2012

By on Nov 23, 2012 in Communication, Criminal, Noah Weil, Office | 0 comments

One aspect of my practice areas is that I deal with people who haven’t worked with lawyers very often, if ever. Some people interact with lawyers all the time, like real estate agents, music moguls, or judges I guess. But for people who are charged with a crime like a DUI, it’s often their first time in the criminal justice system. As part of our initial meeting, I explain the roles the lawyer and the client have in the representation. Since so many of my clients have been surprised (and gratified) by this explanation, I thought I would share it today. The essence is simple: The Client is the Captain. The client is in charge and the lawyer is the merry crew. I, as the attorney, will give advice about good paths to take and rocks to avoid but the client is the one that decides the destination, and ultimately, how to get there. I’ve occasionally been asked by a client (early in the representation) not to sign a plea deal for them without asking them first. I always spit out my coffee at this, because it so badly misconstrues the fundamental distribution of authority in the relationship. If the client wants to talk about a plea, I’ll certainly work with them to accomplish that. But if they want to go to trial? We go to trial, and I start preparing for that. The idea that I would (or could) bind a client to a plea deal behind their back is anathema to our respective responsibilities. And that’s the other half of the equation. Both the lawyer and the client have certain responsibilities to make sure that ship reaches its destination in one piece. I’ve written a lot in these pages about roles and tasks I complete in navigating those treacherous legal waters. For this week’s post, here are five jobs the captain needs to fulfill too. Tell your attorney everything that happened. Everything a client tells their attorney is privileged and confidential. It is, I believe, the strongest privilege that exists in our legal system. And it’s that strong because our system relies so heavily on clients being able to tell their attorney everything, without fear of scandal...

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By on Nov 12, 2012 in Civil Rights, Constitution, Criminal, Drug Law, DUI, Fifth Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Sentencing/Penalties | 3 comments

November 6, 2012 was a historic day for the United States. Besides re-electing Barack Obama to a second term in the White House, states around the country had a variety of criminal and civil rights issues on the ballot. One of the biggest issues on the public’s radar occurred in my home state of Washington: Initiative 502, the legalization of marijuana. In the brief time since it has been approved by the votes, I-502 has received a lot of press, as well as lot of questions. Today’s post is a resource to answer some of those frequently asked questions surrounding I-502.  What is the text of the law? The complete text of I-502 can be found here but because the entire bill is 65 pages, some highlights are presented on this post. Although initiatives are only permitted to be based on “single issues,” I-502 does a few things with current state marijuana laws. It legalizes it of course, but also creates additional DUI penalties. Furthermore, I-502 restricts the location of where people can ingest marijuana, how it can be bought and sold, and new revenue disbursements. More on that below. Does this mean marijuana is completely legal? Yes…to a point. I-502 completely legalizes on the state level a person possessing 1oz of useable marijuana, 16oz of solid product containing marijuana, and 72oz of liquid product containing marijuana. Numbers above those are still criminalized because they imply an intent to illegally distribute. I-502 doesn’t change anything on a federal level. But we’ll get to that in a bit. Where can I ingest marijuana? Where you can’t ingest marijuana, in any of its forms, is anywhere considered public. This is similar to the laws on drinking alcohol. However unlike alcohol laws, which permit bars and taverns, I-502 doesn’t create pot houses, cafes, or similar places where you can ingest in public. That means users of marijuana must do so in the privacy of someone’s home. That being said, while it is unlawful to ingest in public, it’s not a criminal act. You cannot be arrested or sent to jail because of public consumption. Instead violators are subject to a Class 3 civil violation, which carries a $50 fine.  Where and when can...

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By on Nov 2, 2012 in Civil Rights, Consumer Protection, Court, Domestic Violence, Family | 0 comments

While lots of exciting things have been happening at the office, this week I wanted to share my praise for a local organization: The Northwest Justice Project (NJP). What is NJP? NJP is a publicly funded organization that helps Washington residents in a number of ways. The first is through attorney-advocacy for certain legal issues for low-income citizens. Issues NJP works with includes tenant assistance, foreclosure assistance, predatory lending, domestic violence, and access to health care. The other benefit NJP provides is legal information to all Washington residents. They offer a hotline for people to phone or email with legal issues (called CLEAR). They also maintain resources for people to look at legal issues on their own: a resource database and the NJP YouTube channel. All of these resources are available to all Washingtonians, free of charge. Why is NJP good for Washington? One of the reasons I became an attorney is to help people navigate our often treacherous and confusing legal system. Many people facing serious legal issues, like criminal charges or evictions, simply don’t have the resources to either do the needed work on their own, or hire their own counsel. And needless to say, mistakes with these issues can have lifelong consequences. The fact is, I absolutely can’t stand it when ordinary citizens have to go to court without counsel, or even basic knowledge of court processes. I believe strongly in a level-playing field, and in our system, those that have attorneys or legal educations have inordinate advantages over those that don’t. Meaningful access to the courts should not be exclusively for those that can afford it.  NJP helps low-income people, those who can’t afford an attorney, get an advocate for their serious issues. NJP won’t help someone sue a neighbor or fight off the IRS. But they will intervene if a family is going to be put on the street, or someone is being exploited by a predatory lender. These kinds of issues affect all citizens in a number of ways. First, we should be concerned whenever anyone in power is manipulating or exploiting the less fortunate. But from a pecuniary standpoint, giving legal help now prevents many people from declaring bankruptcy or needing public assistance later. A...

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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.