Seattle Criminal Defense Attorney

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Posts made in October, 2017

By on Oct 20, 2017 in Court, Criminal, Domestic Violence, Fifth Amendment, Police, Sentencing/Penalties | 0 comments

This week’s topic is about domestic violence, a term with both legal and social significance. It’s a topic that carries a lot of emotional weight and anyone who works in this field, as I do, needs to respect the connotations “domestic violence” brings to the table. This post is an overview of the domestic violence law in Washington with an eye towards people arrested for the crime because 1) it’s the people I usually work with, and 2) in my experience many people have incorrect ideas about what domestic violence (“DV”) actually means from a legal perspective. What does “domestic violence” mean in Washington? In Washington people are not charged with “domestic violence.” Rather, “domestic violence” is a tag or modifier to another charge. A person would be charged with “Domestic Violence: Assault” or “Domestic Violence: Trespassing” or “Domestic Violence: Property Destruction.” I have seen all of these. Colloquially most people think of domestic violence as a crime of violence but it’s really about the relationship between alleged victim and defendant. The “domestic” part of “domestic violence” is fairly broad. In Washington DV encompasses married and dating people of any gender, people who have a child together even if they never dated, current and former roommates, and people related by blood or marriage. Sometimes a person is surprised when they get in a tussle with their roommate and are charged with domestic violence assault, but that’s the law in Washington. Being charged with a crime with a DV tag creates some interesting consequences from a legal perspective. First of all, domestic violence by itself does not raise the penalties associated with the underlying crime. The maximum sentence for an Assault 4 is 364 days and a $5,000 fine, and if it’s DV Assault 4, that sentence remains the same. However there are collateral consequences. Normally the length of probation after a conviction is two years, but if it’s a DV conviction, the maximum possible becomes five years of court supervision. In addition DV convictions of violence will prohibit the defendant from owning a firearm, can impact sentencing in future cases, and the ability to vacate convictions. And, the waiting period to vacate a DV-based charge goes from three years after the case is closed to...

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By on Oct 2, 2017 in Civil Rights, Communication, Court, Criminal, Domestic Violence, Sex Offense | 1 comment

Most of my clients have either never been charged with an offense in their life, or have been involved in the system for years and years. Both types of clients feel stress about their situation when I get involved, but for different reasons. For the first-time client the stress is obvious: The fear of jail time, the fear of having a criminal record, and the general unease of being in such a foreign environment. I try to put my clients at ease during this stressful process. I explain each step of what is going on in their case and also what I am doing for them to help matters along. I hope it helps, but I know for many of these folks the stress never completely goes away. On the other hand, “repeat customers” have their own stresses. Many of these clients have had unpleasant experiences with law enforcement or government agencies in their lives, and they may be worried the latest charge will be one more time that they don’t get a fair shake. They may be afraid a judge will see their past history and assume the newest charge is “business as usual,” no matter if the defendant is actually innocent of this charge. But my clients aren’t the only ones with invested feelings. You see, no one escapes being affected by this work. Lives are in the balance, sometimes literally. Being the victim of a crime can affect aspect of a person’s life for years, and being wrongfully convicted of a crime can be equally devastating. The lawyers have a lot on their shoulders as they try to balance respect for the criminal justice process, and the people involved. I was reminded of this when two articles from The Marshall Project landed on my desk (Side note: If you care about criminal justice issues, The Marshall Project is a fantastic site and worthy of your support). The first article was about a prosecutor who had to tell a victim of sexual abuse that her assailant obtained a new trial. Which meant the victim had to testify once again about her painful experience. The prosecutor featured in the article had the unenviable job of telling her this. A short, powerful read about the pressures a prosecutor...

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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.