Seattle Criminal Defense Attorney

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Posts made in September, 2013

By on Sep 17, 2013 in Case Law, Communication, Experts, Procedure, Trial | 0 comments

Criminal defendants are entitled to effective assistance of counsel. Effective assistance includes a proper investigation of the case before motions or trial on a case. And to do a proper investigation, the defense attorney utilizes experts and investigators. An expert is someone with the training or education to understand and explain complex issues. Experts in criminal defense cases commonly include ballistics experts, mental health experts, and toxicology experts. Experts are often utilized by the prosecution too, and they can powerfully swing a case. Investigators fulfill two roles. The first is that they of course investigate. They can make calls or visit with people in order to dig up relevant evidence. They’re often ex-police or otherwise connected to criminal justice in some way, and their work and insights are invaluable. The second role for an investigator is to be an independent witness. As an attorney I will often conduct a witness interview myself, because I want to see for myself how a potential witness responds to questions. Sometimes these interviews are recorded, but sometimes the witness doesn’t want to be recorded, and Washington law requires every participant consent to being recorded. When they’re not recorded I make sure my investigator is in the room. The issue is that a witness may change their statement from the interview to the trial. If the interview is recorded that’s not an issue, you can play the recording and figure out the discrepancy. But if it wasn’t recorded the attorney is in a bind. They cannot themselves testify to the different statements. A lawyer cannot also be a witness on the same case. So what the investigator does is act as an independent witness to the original interview. They can take the stand and testify “Yes I was at the interview, and then the witness said ABC, and now they’re saying XYZ.” To be fair, most witnesses do not change their story. But if they do, and the interview wasn’t recorded and you didn’t have an investigator present, you are totally at the witness’s mercy. It’s just good practice to have an independent witness present. Now, experts and investigators cost money. And by ethical rule, a criminal defense attorney cannot front the costs of...

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By on Sep 3, 2013 in Case Law, Civil Rights, Communication, Constitution, Criminal, First Amendment | 0 comments

    Last time I wrote about the evolution of the Fifth Amendment, I talked about the U.S. Supreme Court case Salinas v. Texas. I wrote about the Salinas case because the right to silence is near and dear to my heart, and from interacting with readers of this blog, I know it’s relevant to their interests too. But case law involving constitutional issues are important because constitutional protections are the biggest shield from unlawful government activity. What does that mean? I’ll explain Almost all constitutional clauses and constitutional amendments either require the government to do something or prohibit the government from doing something. The Fifth Amendment doesn’t technically give someone a right to silence. Rather, it prohibits the government from compelling someone to speak against his or her own interest. Two sides of the same coin perhaps, but the distinction is relevant when addressing whether a government action is unlawful. If a government action is unconstitutional, and thus unlawful, it is void. This also means if a prosecution was based on something that is constitutionally protected, that prosecution and any resultant conviction is also void. Cases involving constitutional issues happen all the time. Did the police compel an interrogation? Was a backpack searched unlawfully? Was a soldier quartered in a private citizen’s home? However, cases that represent an evolution of constitutional case law are relatively rare, and followed closely by attorneys. One such case just came out, involving the First Amendment, and it’s the subject of this week’s post. The First Amendment has a lot of fun clauses. Think freedom of the press and freedom to assemble and freedom to worship. The subject of today’s case deals with the portion of the First Amendment promising the right to free speech. As a side point, the First Amendment is a prohibition on the government infringing on someone’s right to communicate. The right to free speech doesn’t mean that you and I have a constitutional right to post on someone’s private message board, give speeches in someone’s restaurant, and put up signs on someone’s house. This is why the First Amendment doesn’t prevent me from moderating the comments on blog posts. State v. Locke deals with online communication where 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.