SQ AttorneysEvery day in courts throughout the United States, defendants are sentenced to crimes. Many times the defendant will be sentenced to jail or prison, and sometimes the respective Judge may impose jail alternatives. Sentences for a criminal conviction can take many forms, and a conviction doesn’t always mean a trip to jail or prison. Alternative sentences can include different combinations of the following: a suspended sentence, probation, fines, restitution, community service and deferred sentence/pretrial diversion. Judges typically determine whether to impose alternative sentences based on the type and severity of the crime, the age of the defendant, the defendant’s criminal history, the effect of the crime on the victims, and the defendants remorse at the time of sentencing. An essential factor in consideration of a final judgment and sentence includes the Prosecutors recommendation in the plea agreement.

As an alternative to imprisonment, a judge can issue a suspended sentence where an imposition of jail is stayed on condition that the defendant, abide by certain conditions ordered by the Court. Common conditions can include enrolling in a substance abuse program and not committing any further law violation.   This is generally reserved for less serious crimes or first-time offenders. In Washington state, suspended sentences are general imposed on misdemeanor convictions. If the conditions are not met, the judge can then impose a jail sentence.

Another alternative to prison is probation. Similar to a suspended sentence, probation releases a defendant back into the community, but the defendant does not have the same level of freedom as a normal citizen. Courts typically grant probation for first-time or low-risk offenders. Statutes determine when probation is possible, but it is up to the sentencing judge to determine whether or not to actually grant probation. In Washington state, felony probation is monitored by the State Department of Corrections and misdemeanor probation is monitored by the respective courts own probation department.

Typically, probation comes with conditions that restrict behavior, and if the defendant violates one of those conditions, the court may revoke probation and impose jail time. Courts have a great deal of discretion when imposing conditions for probation.

Any time an individual is involved in the court system, he or she has to pay some sort of fine., For many, the fines may be in the form of a speeding or parking ticket. Individuals convicted of more serious crimes also have to pay fines in many situations, although the amount of the fine is usually much more substantial than a traffic ticket. Generally, fines are imposed to punish the offender, help compensate the state for the offense, and deter any future criminal acts.

In some cases, a judge will order a criminal offender to perform work on behalf of the community, usually in exchange for a reduction of fines and/or incarceration. Court ordered community service can accompany some other form of alternative sentence with the intent that performing community service offers more benefit to society than being incarcerated. The community benefits from the work that the offender performs and avoids the cost of incarceration while the offender benefits from a lesser sentence and hopefully learns from his or her work experience. In most Courts, community service must be completed at a registered non-profit organization and a letter must be filed with the Court on the agencies letterhead, to confirm that the community service has been successfully completed.

Certain types of defendants may qualify for programs that result in having charges dismissed if the defendant completes certain conditions. This is sometimes called a deferred sentence or diversion and these programs take the defendant out of the ordinary process of prosecution so he or she can complete certain conditions. Once he or she is done, either the prosecutor or the court dismisses the charges.

The goal of diversion programs is to allow a defendant time to demonstrate that they are capable of behaving responsibly, and gives them an opportunity to clear their criminal record. In most cases, such programs are designed for time offenders who have no prior history of any kind. Normally, the conditions imposed include some form of counseling and/or probation, and require the defendant to stay out of trouble.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer.

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Sentencing Alternatives

The Role of The Lawyer

skd258562sdcSoon after a defendant explains his or her story to a criminal lawyer, they will probably collaborate with each other to come up with a strategy that will work best in court. Generally speaking, this strategy will be based upon the story that the defendant tells his or her attorney, but in most cases will not be exactly the same. Coming up with a defense strategy is not as simple as telling the truth in a way that shows the defendant’s innocence. Instead, it will involve weighing witness credibility, figuring out the reputation between the community and the police as well as various other legal factors.

The very first aspect of preparing a case for trial is to establish a theory. This theory is what the defense will present to a jury, which could explain, justify or prove a defendant’s innocence. Putting this theory forward in court could be very beneficial to the defendant. Prior to a case going to trial, a defense attorney could file a pretrial motions asking for certain evidence to be excluded from trial. This evidence can include certain confessions, statements or actual hard evidence found in a crime scene. In addition, the defense attorney would also probably try to interview any witnesses and/or alleged victims to ascertain information for a trial. This information can be further used during a trial to question credibility and prove to the jury that the prosecutions burden of proof has not been met.

Attorneys are charged to be zealous advocates for their clients and this often means that they will provide coaching to their criminal defendant clients in order to put the best defense theory forward possible. In many situations, defense attorneys will practice mock testimony with the defendant to commit and clearly understand a defense theory to memory; take a defendant to a crime scene in order to stimulate memories and get a defendant to write down their own version of the events, which in many cases varies from the actual police report and discovery provided to the defense.

Additionally, defense attorneys will often explain the theory of the case that the prosecution is using in order to get defendants to include important pieces of fact in their testimony. For example, if a key part of the prosecution’s case is that the defendant was in a certain location at a certain time, the defendant needs to remember to tell a version of events that does not place him at that location at that time. Establishing a criminal defense theory involves manipulating the facts in order to be able to zealously advocate for a client and ensure that he or she has received an effective defense.

It is important for defense attorneys to explain to defendants about various pieces of information about the prosecution’s case so that the defendant knows what kinds of evidence they need to produce.

Another reason that defendants should tell their defense attorneys the complete truth is that it could lead to a lesser charge. If, for example, a defendant is charged with armed robbery, and the defendant tells his attorney that, yes, he did rob the store, but not with any weapon, this could reduce the charge to simple robbery, a much less serious crime in terms of potential jail time as opposed to a robbery with a deadly weapon.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer.

The Sixth Amendment

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So you have been charged with a crime and now you are in need of an attorney? A criminal defendant’s right to an attorney is found in the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which requires the “assistance of counsel” for the accused in all criminal prosecutions. This means that a defendant has a constitutional right to be represented by an attorney during every aspect of a criminal proceeding from the arraignment and through an appeals process. It also means that if the defendant cannot afford an attorney, in almost all instances the government will appoint one to handle the case, at no cost to the defendant.

The defense attorney’s role is of paramount importance in almost every criminal case. While specific duties of an attorney vary depending on the nature of the charges and the case, key responsibilities of any criminal defense lawyer include advising the defendant of his or her rights and explaining what to expect at different stages of the criminal process; ensuring that the defendant’s constitutional rights are not violated through law enforcement conduct, or in court proceedings and negotiating a plea bargain with the government, on the defendant’s behalf. Lastly, a defense attorney is responsible for investigating facts and the evidence presented as well as cross-examining witnesses, objecting to evidence and questions presented by the prosecution and presenting any legal defenses that may be apparent.

Courts have interpreted the Sixth Amendment right to counsel as guaranteeing the “effective assistance of counsel” to criminal defendants. It doesn’t matter whether the attorney is hired by the defendant or appointed by the government. However, questionable strategic choices made by an attorney and even serious lawyer errors, in some instances do not usually cause a conviction to be thrown out, unless it is clear that the attorney’s incompetence affected the outcome of the case.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer.

Types of Evidence

78431646Evidence exists in many different forms. Many of which are introduced in trial and some that are not. Scientific and forensic types of evidence can be extremely helpful in proving a case, but there are rules and standards that these types of evidence must meet before they can be submitted during a trial. Scientific evidence are generally more common in serious felony cases, as opposed to misdemeanor charges.

Scientific evidence is based off of knowledge that has been developed by using the scientific method. This means that the basis for the evidence has been hypothesized and tested and is generally accepted within the scientific community. This could mean that the theory on which the scientific evidence is based has been published in scientific journals and has been subjected to peer review within the scientific community.

There are many types of forensic evidence that are often considered scientific evidence, like DNA matching, fingerprint identification, and hair/fiber evidence. The methods used to develop these types of evidence are generally beyond the scope of knowledge that judges and juries possess and are therefore normally introduced as scientific evidence.

However, this is not to say that scientific evidence cannot be excluded from a courtroom or trial. There are often many steps that must be taken before a piece of scientific evidence can be put forth in a courtroom as factual evidence. In general, a scientific theory must have established itself in the scientific community and become generally accepted as the truth before it will be asserted as evidence at trial.

Fingerprint matching is generally admissible as forensic evidence in trial because it has been proven to be reliable to many years. In addition, things like radar and laser speed guns are generally accepted as being a valid method to tell the speed of a car at a given time and can be admitted as evidence. But keep in mind that there will often be new types of scientific evidence that parties will attempt to submit at trial – science that may not have a solid foundation within the scientific community.

If one side of a trial wishes to submit scientific evidence that is not yet generally accepted within the scientific community, it often happens that the court orders a mini-trial to be held in order to determine the validity of the scientific theory on which the evidence is based. As an example, DNA evidence had to go through many mini-trials before it became generally accepted as valid evidence at trial.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer.