I.D. Theft …Don’t do it!

One of the most common white-collar crimes in Washington State is identity theft. It should go without saying, identity theft in Washington State is considered a very serious crime; often an identity theft allegation results in criminal charges being filed in the federal (not state) court system. Identity theft can happen in many different ways, but more often than not, identity theft involves the purchase of goods and/or property by a person or entity using someone else’s identity or financial information.

Identity theft in Washington State is considered to be a crime in which a person uses someone else’s personal or financial information, such as their name, credit card number, bank account number or Social Security Number without permission or authority. Some examples of identity theft may include, but are certainly not limited to, mail fraud, opening a bank account or forging a check in another person’s name, illegally obtaining and using another’s credit card, debit card, or social security card without lawful authority and/or fraudulent wire transfers or electronic money transfers.

Identity theft is a felony in Washington State. A felony conviction in Washington State will cause a person to lose certain civil rights and may prevent him from future employment opportunities. In addition to the criminal penalties and restitution a person faces when convicted for identity theft, the convicted person will also face a civil fine of up to $1000 for each individual count of identity theft alleged.

Because of the very serious consequences associated with identity theft, it is imperative that a person charged with identify theft retain a qualified Seattle criminal defense lawyer. A qualified Seattle criminal defense attorney can assess what the best strategy is to defend against the allegations. There are many defenses that can be used to fight against identity theft charges. For example, the evidence in identity theft cases is often obtained through a search of a person’s home or car; if that search was illegal or unconstitutional, the evidence may be suppressed, or otherwise not used by the prosecuting authority.

At SQ Attorneys we have overcome seemingly insurmountable odds through continuous, intensive and sustained plea bargaining efforts; we create success by applying the factual circumstances of our cases to the applicable law, and presenting mitigating factors throughout the entire negotiating process. These efforts have routinely resulted in reduced charges, reduced sentences and even dismissals. SQ Attorneys creatively works with prosecutors, courts and local agencies to keep our client’s criminal records clean; especially in first time offender situations and those situations where the individual does not have a long criminal history.

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Deferred Prosecution? What is it??

A DUI “arrest” in Washington State may result in very harsh and undesirable consequences if the driver arrested is “convicted” of the crime in a Washington State court of law. One way to avoid a DUI conviction is to enter (and successfully complete) a “Deferred Prosecution,” as authorized by Revised Code of Washington 10.05. Below following is a brief description of Washington State DUI Deferred Prosecutions:

• What is a Deferred Prosecution? A Deferred Prosecution is a Washington State program that allows a person accused of committing DUI to petition a court to dismiss his case if he: (1) enters and completes a two year alcohol/drug treatment program at a Washington State certified alcohol/ drug treatment agency, and (2) complies with all other court imposed conditions.

• Should a person petition for Deferred Prosecution when charged with a DUI in Washington State? The answer to this question really depends on a number of variables, ranging from the facts of the person’s case to the person’s criminal history and everything in-between. Retaining a qualified Seattle DUI attorney is the first step in making the determination.

• Will a person retain his Washington State driving privileges if he does a Deferred Prosecution? In short, yes. However, there are conditions associated with retaining the driving privilege. For instance, the person will be required to install an ignition interlock device in any non-work vehicle he drives.

• Will a person go to jail if he enters a Deferred Prosecution? In short, no; there is no jail time associated with a Deferred Prosecution. Unless, of course, the person is found to have violated the conditions of the Deferred Prosecution and the court thereafter revokes the Deferred Prosecution and convicts the person of DUI.

• Is a Deferred Prosecution easy to complete? No, it is actually very time consuming and difficult; it is very expensive and labor intensive. The person also is required to admit that he has an alcohol/drug problem, and that without treatment it is likely he will get stopped again for DUI.

• How many Deferred Prosecutions can a person be granted? A person is only authorized one Deferred Prosecution in his lifetime; not one Deferred Prosecution every five years like it was in the 1990’s. In short, “you use it, you lose it.”

• Can a person travel to Canada during (or after successfully completing) a Deferred Prosecution? It is not real clear whether a person will be authorized to travel to Canada while on (or after successfully completing) a Washington State Deferred Prosecution. Canada does not have a clear cut policy on Deferred Prosecutions; but it is clear that if a person is “convicted” of DUI that he will not be permitted into Canada.

• A DUI, Reckless Driving, Reckless Endangerment or Negligent Driving (reduced from DUI) conviction will enhance penalties if another DUI occurs within 7 years, is the same true for a successfully completed Deferred Prosecution? Even a successfully completed Deferred Prosecution will count as a “prior conviction” if that person receives another DUI within seven years; enhanced penalties on subsequent DUI convictions will thus occur.

Because of the significant consequences one faces when arrested for DUI in Washington State, it is imperative that he/she retain a qualified Washington State DUI attorney so as to not only best minimize the myriad of legal consequences he/she faces, but also to protect his/her rights and liberty interests. The Seattle criminal attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified Seattle DUI lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those charged with DUI in Western Washington. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the DUI allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible.

Click it or Ticket it!

As Western Washingtonians may have recently noticed, there are new highway signs going up all around the region. The first set of highway signs cover I-5 from the Boeing Access Road to the I-90 intersection, and are set to be officially lit up at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, August 10, 2010. There are at least two other sets of highway signs to be installed in the King County region in the relatively near future — Highway 520 (Fall 2010) and on I-90 (spring 2011), respectively. When the signs officially light-up, drivers best beware because if they don’t pay attention to the information posted on the signs they may get cited by law enforcement for committing a traffic violation.

The signs are regulatory in nature; in other words, all of the information posted on the signs is mandatory, not suggestive. The signs will display speed changes, direction arrows and “X’s” to let drivers know a lane is closed. There will be one sign above each lane on the freeway. If a driver chooses not to heed a signs mandate (i.e. reduce speed or stay out of specific lane), law enforcement will cite the driver for failing to obey our Washington State traffic laws. Failing to obey a traffic sign can result in a $124 fine and increased insurance premiums.

If you or a loved one is cited in Washington State for a traffic violation you should request a contested hearing and immediately contact a Seattle criminal defense attorney or a Bellevue criminal lawyer for advice and/or assistance. The Seattle criminal attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified Seattle criminal lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those ticketed in and around Western Washington and the greater Puget Sound region. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible.

Convicted of a crime?

If you have been, or you are facing the prospect of being, convicted of a crime in Washington State, you may be curious to know whether you will be able to find gainful employment or quality housing. Employers and rental property owners are becoming increasingly more concerned about knowing whether applicants have criminal records. Undoubtedly part of this concern has been caused by jury verdicts that have been rendered against employers or rental property owners for negligently hiring or leasing to people with criminal histories; people who have caused harm to others while on the job or while leasing rental property. Another concern for employers, in particular, arises when they have to disclose criminal conviction data. An example of this is when a company is trying to raise funds and/or capital; they may be required to make certain disclosures to a bank or a private investor because the bargaining between the parties has to be done in good faith and with full disclosure. Employers and rental property owners in Washington State have a great deal of access to criminal history records. Washington State employers and rental property owners are permitted to ask potential employees or lease applicants about their criminal background.

Because of the significant implications a criminal conviction can have, it is imperative that a person stopped, cited arrested and/or charged with a crime in Washington State retain a qualified Seattle criminal defense attorney or a qualified Bellevue criminal defense lawyer in order to best minimize potential legal consequences and protect their rights. The Seattle criminal attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified criminal lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those charged with crimes in Western Washington and all across the Greater Puget Sound region. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the criminal allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible.

If you or a loved one is stopped, cited, arrested and/or charged with a crime in King County, Pierce County, Snohomish County, Kitsap County, Thurston County or one of the following cities or towns: Algona, Bellevue, Black Diamond, Bonney Lake, Bothell, Burien, Des Moines, Duvall, Edmonds, Enumclaw, Everett, Federal Way, fife, Hunts Point, Issaquah, Kenmore, Kent, Kirkland, Lake Forest Park, Lake Stevens, Lakewood, Lynnwood, Maple Valley, Marysville, Medina, Mercer Island, Milton, Monroe, Mountlake Terrace, New Castle, Normandy Park, North Bend, Olympia, Puyallup, Redmond, Renton, Sammamish, Sea Tac, Seattle, Shoreline, Snohomish, Sumner, Tacoma, Tukwila, University Place, and/or Woodinville, or any other city or town in Western Washington, call The Criminal Defense Team of SQ Attorneys at (206) 441-0900 for an initial free consultation.

Protocols, protocols, protocols ….

In Washington State DUI cases police officers are not only required by law to follow specific “protocols” but are also required to follow state and federal constitutional principles when making a DUI stop and/or arrest. The following are but a few examples of the protocols and/or principles that law enforcement officers must follow. First, a police officer must have “probable cause” or “reasonable suspicion” to believe a traffic infraction or crime has been committed in order to make contact with a driver in Washington State. Second, Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (to be considered valid) must be conducted according to very specific protocols that are outlined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”). Third, if a breath or blood test is conducted, it must comply with the protocols outlined in the Washington Administrative Codes as well as the Revised Codes of Washington, and in the case of breath tests, the breath test machine used to obtain the breath sample(s) must be properly calibrated and in good working order.

Because of the protocols and principles that must be followed by police officers in Washington State, it is important that in all Washington State DUI cases an accused preserve as much evidence as possible. For example, if there is an in-car camera it is imperative to request and obtain any film footage the camera may have caught during law enforcements’ contact with the accused. Similarly, if there is a camera in the room where a breath test is obtained at the police station, it is extremely important to request and obtain the film footage the camera may have caught during the accused’s breath test processing. Obtaining film footage is important because it may confirm or dispel whether all protocols and procedures were followed by the law enforcement officer during his processing of the person accused of DUI. Many folks believe, for example, that the NHTSA Standardized Field Sobriety Tests are designed to ensure failure; it goes without saying that a good percentage of the population will have difficulty performing some, if not all, of the tasks required. This is true because of age, weight, height and whole host of other impactful factors. The tests are “standardized” and thus how they are administered is very important. Viewing film can help determine if the tests were administered correctly, and thus can help assess whether the police officer truly did have sufficient grounds (“probable cause”) to arrest the person accused of DUI.

Because of the significant implications a DUI arrest and/or conviction can have on a person, it is imperative that a person charged with DUI in Washington State retain a qualified Seattle DUI attorney or a qualified Bellevue DUI lawyer in order to best minimize potential legal consequences and protect their rights and interests. The Seattle criminal attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified Seattle DUI lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those charged with DUI in Western Washington. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the DUI allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible.