Seattle Criminal Defense Attorney

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Posts by Noah

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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By on Aug 22, 2017 in Administration, Background checks, Civil Rights, Criminal, Public Records | 0 comments

Criminal histories are the gift that keep on giving. From embarrassment to loss of job to losing the ability to travel internationally, even simple misdemeanors can cause havoc years and years after the case is over. It’s why I get called a lot about vacating misdemeanors and felonies. Seattle, recognizing this issue and its intersection with their homeless crisis, unanimously passed a new ordinance forbidding the use of criminal histories in rental applications. For Seattle residents that are scared of living next to ne’er-do-well’s, the article points out there is no relationship between criminal history and tenant violations (and if someone committed a serious violent felony, they are probably still in prison).  I applaud this ordinance as a common-sense response to the criminal history problem. Even people who have made a mistake deserve a place to live. If you or someone you know is being charged with a crime or needs to clear up some records, feel free to give me a...

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By on Jul 21, 2017 in Communication, Court, DUI, Traffic Ticket | 0 comments

Going into effect on Sunday July 23, 2017, Washington just enacted a comprehensive law aimed at reducing accidents and fatalities caused by distracted drivers. This law prohibits drivers from using electronic devices while driving. The new law vastly expands what’s defined as “using” the device, and increases the penalties too. If you don’t want to get ticketed by the new distracted driving law, read on for details. The idea behind the law is that driving should take someone’s full attention. The most common distraction for drivers is my daughter kicking the back of the seat and the center console and then trying to take the pacifier out of her brother’s mouth and while we’re dealing with that she’ll kick her shoes towards the front of the car their cell phones, so the law makes interacting with a cell phone in almost any way an infraction. Since this is such a big change here’s an FAQ on the new law: Q: What is prohibited under this law? A: Under the law, a driver cannot operate a personal electronic device while driving. A “personal electronic device” is any portable electronic device that can do something wirelessly or can retrieve data stored on it. Examples include cell phones, personal DVD players, video game players, tablets, messaging devices, etc.  Operating the device means using it or viewing it in any way, even passively. Somebody queueing up a video for you to watch is still a violation. In addition, even if you are using your hands to type, i.e. keeping your eyes on the road, this constitutes operating the device and is a violation.  Most importantly, the law prohibits these actions even while stopped at a stop sign or red light. Q: Are there exceptions? A: A few. Once you’re safely pulled over to the side of the road you can operate whatever you want. You may briefly touch a button or use your voice (“Hey Siri”) to turn on voice-only operations. Likewise, devices that are designed for hands-free use are permitted to be briefly operated to turn them on. And any built-in devices in your car, including hands-free options, scrolling menus on your car’s dash, and your radio, may continue to be used. This also includes add-ons designed to...

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By on Jun 22, 2017 in Traffic Ticket | 0 comments

Washington State traffic enforcement is targeting left-lane “campers,” people who don’t pass or merge back onto the right. The tickets come with $136 price tags and can raise insurance rates for up to three years.  If you or someone you know receives a traffic infraction and needs help keeping it off a driving record, feel free to give me 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.