Juvenile Law

In the eyes of the law, a juvenile or a minor is any person under the legal adult age. This age varies from state to state, but in most states any person age 18 or younger is considered a juvenile. In several states, such as New York, Connecticut, and North Carolina, a juvenile is age 16 or less, and in Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin, a juvenile is age 17 or less. Wyoming is the only state that has established the age of juveniles to be 19 or younger.

As well as having upper age limits, juvenile jurisdictions also have lower age limits. Most states specify that prior to age six or seven, juveniles lack mens rea, or criminal intent. At this young age, juveniles also are thought to lack the ability to tell right from wrong, or dolci incapax. Usually, the age of the offender refers to the age of the offender at the time the offense was committed, but in some states, age refers to the offender’s age at the time of apprehension. This arrangement allows for the sometimes lengthy periods it takes to clear a case.

One’s status as a juvenile or as an adult is pertinent for the court’s determination of the jurisdiction under which an offender falls: the adult or the juvenile court system. If it is decided that a juvenile will be tried in a juvenile court, most states allow the juvenile to remain under that jurisdiction until the defendant’s 21st birthday.

Relying on age as a sole determinant for adulthood has been criticized by many criminologists and policy makers since individuals develop at different rates. Some youth are far more mature at 18 years of age than some adults are. Because of this discrepancy, juvenile court judges have been given broad discretion to waive juveniles to adult court for trial and sentencing. In rare situations, the courts also have the power to emancipate a juvenile in a civil proceeding so that he or she becomes an adult under the law and is granted certain adult privileges. For example, if a 17-year-old loses both parents and has no other living relatives, he or she could be emancipated in order to pursue custody of his or her younger siblings.

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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Criminal Procedures Officers Must Follow

Did you get arrested recently? Are you feeling as if your rights have been violated? The fact of the matter is, when the police arrest someone, they take away that person’s fundamental right to freedom. As a result there are several procedures the police must follow before they can make a legal arrest so that your rights remain protected. So what are those standard requirements that the police must comply with prior to an arrest?

In many states and police departments there are extra procedures which must be followed. These procedures are designed to protect police officers’ physical safety and sometimes they are designed to help the police officer document the arrest, and help the officer avoid making a legal mistake which could ruin the prosecution’s case in a criminal trial. These extra procedures differ from one police department to the next, but generally there are standard requirements an officer must follow prior to conducting a lawful arrest.

There are only a very limited number of circumstances in which an officer may make an arrest. The first is when an officer has personally observed a crime such as a Driving Under the Influence charge. The second is when the officer has probable cause to believe that the person arrested committed a crime. Probable cause is defined as a reasonable suspicion that the individual arrest may have engaged in unlawful conduct. The final circumstance is when an officer has an arrest warrant issued by a judge.

An officer cannot arrest someone just because he/she feels like it or has a hunch that someone might be a criminal. Police officers have to be able to justify their arrest usually by showing some tangible evidence that led them to probable cause.

The rules regarding what an officer must do while making an arrest vary by jurisdiction. Generally, an arrest happens when the person being arrested reasonably believes that she is not free to leave. The officer need not use handcuffs, or place the arrestee in a patrol car, although police often use these tactics to protect themselves. They also do not have to read Miranda Rights at the time of arrest. However, the police must read a suspect his Miranda Rights before an interrogation, so many police departments recommend that Miranda Rights be read at the time of arrest. This way, they can start questioning right away, and also, any information volunteered by a suspect can be used against them. Finally, although the police will almost always tell an arrestee why they are under arrest, they may not necessarily have any legal obligation to do so. This depends on both the jurisdiction and the circumstances of the arrest.

One universal rule police officers must follow is that they are not allowed to use excessive force or treat the arrestee cruelly. Generally, police officers are only allowed to use the minimum amount of force necessary to protect themselves and bring the suspect into police custody. This is why people are advised to never resist an arrest or argue with police. The more a suspect struggles, the more force is required for the police to do their job. If the arrestee thinks the arrest is unjustified or incorrect, she can always challenge it later with the help of an attorney, and if warranted, bring a civil rights 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.

Washington State Laws

All crimes in the State of Washington are enumerated in the Revised Code of Washington (RCW). These codes define what a crime is, lay out the elements of each crime and, in many cases, provide sentencing guidelines for the specific criminal act. Crimes are divided into two categories: misdemeanors and felonies. The less serious offenses are known as misdemeanors, and are further divided into simple misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors. All misdemeanor cases are heard in Municipal and District Courts; and the Court is determined by the law enforcement agency that conducts the investigation and the Prosecutors office assigned to the particular jurisdiction. The more serious offenses are known as a felony. Felonies are categorized into classes A, B, or C in descending order of seriousness. All felony cases are heard in the Superior Court of the particular county the crime is alleged to have occurred.

A misdemeanor is often regarded as a minor criminal offense. Examples of simple misdemeanors include disorderly conduct, driving while license suspended in the third degree and solicitation of a prostitute. A simple misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of up to 90 days in jail and fines of up to $1,000. A gross misdemeanor is a much more serious offense. Driving while under the influence of alcohol/drugs is a gross misdemeanor as well as an assault in the 4th degree charge and theft in the 3rd degree. These offenses carry penalties of up to one year in jail and fines of up to $5,000. Some misdemeanors such as a driving under the influence offense carry mandatory punishments per the RCW. Penalties often depend on the nature of the offense, any aggravating factors involved, and the prior criminal history of the offender.

Felony crimes are much more serious than misdemeanors. A felony crime includes offenses such offenses as murder, robbery, rape, burglary, and sales or distribution of illegal drugs. Class A felonies are the most serious offenses and are punishable by prison sentences which can include life, as well as fines of up to $50,000. Class B felonies carry penalties of up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $20,000. Class C felonies are punishable by up to 5 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

The Washington State sentencing guidelines further classifies each felony crime by assigning specific standard ranges for each charge. These standard ranges are used to determine the amount of time a defendant could be incarcerated for if convicted of a particular felony charge. Fifteen seriousness levels exist from Level I to Level XV which carry corresponding sentencing ranges for each level. At the time of sentencing on a felony charge, a pre-sentence report is typically required by the respective sentencing judge who makes the final determination of the exact sentence that the defendant will receive. These pre-sentence reports often time include information such as criminal, family, and employment history, psychological assessments, statements from victims, and often times will include each parties recommendation to the Court of what they believe would be a fair and just sentence.

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.

Three Strikes and You Are Out!

The “three strikes” law has been implemented in many States, where in which a defendant with three violent felony convictions may be sentenced to life in imprisonment. In addition to “three strikes” laws, other state and all federal criminal statutes include mandatory sentences that require judges to impose identical sentences on all persons convicted of the same offense. Mandatory sentences are a direct result of state legislatures’ or Congress’ response to the public perception of judicial leniency or inconsistency in sentencing practices. Driving Under the Influence charges carry mandatory minimum sentences if convicted, depending on how many prior convictions a defendant has.

However, most crimes do not carry mandatory sentences. If sentencing is not mandatory, judges are given discretion and may fit the punishment to the offender based on the particular circumstances. Competing theories about criminal justice help to fuel the different approaches to sentencing and punishment. These theories include the following:

Retribution. Some believe that the primary purpose of punishment should be to punish an offender for the wrong committed, society’s vengeance against a criminal. The sentiment is to punish criminals and promote public safety by keeping them off the streets.

Rehabilitation. Others believe that the primary purpose of punishment should be to rehabilitate criminals and to mend their criminal ways in order to encourage the adoption of a more socially acceptable lifestyle. Most experts agree that this theory is commendable but not practical in prisons. Many criminals boast of coming out better criminals than they were when they entered prison.

Deterrence. Still others argue that the perceived punishment for a crime should be so undesirable as to result in deterring someone from actually committing a crime for fear of the likely punishment. Again, the theory is commendable, but many crimes are committed on impulse or under the influence of alcohol and other drugs. Fear of punishment is usually not a deterrent under these circumstances. Moreover, repeat offenders do not fear incarceration the way that people who have been free all their lives might.

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.

Bailing Out

Once you have been arrested and put in jail, there is probably just one thing going through your mind, which is to get out as soon as possible. Getting out of jail is accomplished by posting “bail” or being released on your own personal recognizance. Bail is generally cash or a piece of property that has a cash value that you give to the bonding company in return for your promise to show up to court when you are ordered to do so. If you show up to court when you are supposed to after being let out of jail, the court will return your bail. However, if you do not show up, the court will keep your bail and most likely issue an arrest warrant for you, meaning you’ll probably end up back in jail.

When you “post bail,” you are paying the amount that your bail was set at. This can generally be done in a few ways, which includes paying by cash or check the amount your bail is set at; signing over ownership rights to property that has a cash value that is equal to or exceeds the amount of your bail; giving a bond in the full amount of your bail; or signing a statement that says you will appear in court at the required time, generally called “being released on your own recognizance.”

Generally, if you can be released on your own recognizance, you should try to take that option. However, many people are forced to purchase a bail bond in order to get released from jail. A bond is much like a check that you give to a friend, asking him or her not to cash it until you say it’s okay to do so. Generally, the purchase price of the bond is about 10% of the value. Therefore, if your bail is set at $5000, you can expect to pay about 10% of the amount ($500) in order to purchase a bail bond.

If you have the chance to avoid getting a bail bond in order to get out of jail, it is often good advice to take that second option. If you appear at court and proceed with all requirements thereof, you will generally get the full amount of your bail returned back to you (minus some small, administrative fees from the court). However, if you buy a bail bond, you are already out 10% of your bail amount (this is generally not refundable), and you will also probably have to give the bail bondsman some collateral in order to get the bond (such as an interest in your car or home). If you fail to appear in court at a required time, the bondsman can cash in on the collateral you gave, meaning that he or she could sell your property and take the money from the sale.

The other option is to get released on your own personal recognizance. In general, in order to be released on you must simply sign a paper promising to show up at court when required. In order to get released on your own personal recognizance you will probably have to request this at your first court appearance in front of a judge. If you are denied this request, you can always ask about getting a lower bail amount.

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.