Harassment Via Text Messaging

Most states have criminal laws against harassing texts, in some form or another. Harassment has a rather low level threshold: it is repeated, unwanted contact. Even spam may be considered harassing texts, but these aren’t the kind in which to call the police, and if you do, do not expect any action to be taken in the near future.

The harassing texts police follow up on tend to be those that endanger health, safety, and welfare. Before contacting the police, ask the sender to stop sending them. If that doesn’t work, set up an appointment to meet with police to explain the situation.

Repeated text messages that are affecting your health should be reported. Everyone has different stress and anxiety thresholds, and once harassing texts have elevated you past these, it is time to contact the police. When reporting them, make sure the police understand if you have a pre-existing health condition that would make your threshold potentially lower, and especially let them know if the harassing person knows this. In extreme cases, this information can lead police to intervene after only one harassing text.

If harassing texts are making you feel unsafe, these should be reported as well. Perhaps the text is menacing or stalking. If you are even contemplation changing your daily patterns to avoid certain situations warned about in the harassing texts, for fear of personal injury, contact the police.

Many people receive harassing texts that threaten their career, job, or livelihood. They can be sexually offensive from co-workers, giving rise to a sexual harassment claim, or as it is now termed, textual harassment. There are even some cases between co-workers that are ex-lovers that have risen to the level of revenge porn. Repeated texts from co-workers can be annoying, coming at all hours of the night asking about the progress of a project. You may want to address these with your human resources department. However, if that doesn’t help, or if you have a warranted fear of retaliation, you should speak with the police. Some unwanted texts, especially ones that contain lewd photos, could give rise to a criminal arrest.

If any of these three apply to your situation, contact the police in the city in which your harasser lives. For best results, make sure you have plenty of evidence, clearly sorted, in order to make investigating your case that much easier. Police are hear to help protect your health, safety, and welfare from these menacing texts.

If you are arrested for sending harassing texts, contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately. Laws against all forms of cyberbullying are being taken increasingly seriously. You may not have had the courage to harass the victim face to face, but the judge will have no problem facing you.

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.

Steps to Take When Being Pulled Over

Most of us at some point in our lives may get pulled over by a police officer one day. There are simple steps during traffic stops that one should follow in order to have a fighting chance to contest a ticket.

Step One: Pull over quickly and safely, letting the police officer know you understand and are complying. Use your signals and pull as far to the right shoulder as you can. Your goal is to make it clear that you understand he or she is in control. By pulling over quickly, you can also be close to the scene where the officer claims you committed a violation. This allows you to review the scene to evaluate the truthfulness of the officer’s allegation and look for potential defenses such as obstructed views.

Always be polite during traffic stops, even if the officer is aggressive. You have little to lose by being polite and a lot to lose by being belligerent. Roll down your window, turn off the engine and place your hands on the steering wheel. If it is night time, turn on your interior light. Do not reach for documentation: officers are trained to spot driver’s reaching for hidden items, or stashing items, and it is likely an officer may misinterpret your actions. You might be reaching for your registration, but for all the officer knows, you’re reaching for a gun.

If you have any suspicion that the officer is not really a police officer (e.g., you were pulled over by an unmarked car), ask politely to see the officer’s photo identification and badge. If you still are unsure, you can ask that officer to call a supervisor to the scene or you can request that you be allowed to follow the officer to a police station.

Although police officers are normally not allowed to search your car during traffic stops, it’s easy to give the officer a valid reason to search your car if you’re not careful. Once the officer shines his or her spotlight on your car, the officer is watching you closely for any suspicious movements. For instance, if an officer observes you trying to hide or throw something out of the window, the officer may legally search your car. If you appear to hunch down in your seat, the officer may reasonably believe you’re hiding something under the seat. Be calm, don’t make sudden or suspicious movements and don’t reach for anything until the officer asks you to.

If an officer has reason to believe you’re armed, dangerous, or involved in criminal activity, the officer can frisk you. If the officer has probable cause (a reasonable basis to believe that you or your passengers are involved in criminal activity), then the officer can search your car. Even if the officer doesn’t initially have probable cause, if during the stop the officer sees something in “plain view” (out in the open), then the officer is allowed to inspect it and any other objects the officer comes across can be legally seized as well. Common examples of items in plain view are open beer cans, wine bottles and drug paraphernalia.

Finally, an officer can search your car if you or any passenger in your car is arrested. If you are the one arrested, the police may tow your vehicle and do an “inventory” search of the car’s contents without any need for reasonable suspicion.

You should not get out of your car unless the police officer asks you to. Again, you want to avoid antagonizing the officer and communicate that you understand he or she is in control. Officers are trained to expect the worst, and if you suddenly exit the vehicle, the officer is trained to think you’re either going to fight or flee.

If an officer asks you to exit the vehicle, you should do so calmly and carefully, with no sudden movements. Exiting the vehicle may give you the opportunity to better survey the scene to verify the officer’s allegations. If the officer has a reason to believe you’re armed, he or she can pat down your outer clothing. If the officer finds something suspicious, he or she can reach in to grab the concealed object.

Let the officer do most of the talking. Don’t interrupt, don’t be argumentative, and don’t say anything that the officer can record and use against you. This means when an officer asks you questions such as “do you know why I stopped you,” you should respond “no.” If the officer asks you “do you know how fast you were going,” you should simply answer “yes.” Officers are trained to let you incriminate yourself by letting you admit to violations or admit that you were careless or negligent. If required, give noncommittal responses such as “ok” or “I see.” Often the best course is simply not to respond, silence is not an admission of guilt and cannot be used against you. Be polite, but don’t give the officer anything — it’s his or her job to prove your guilt.

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.

Jury Nullification

The United States Constitution guarantees a trial by jury to all persons accused of a crime. That jury is comprised of average citizens from all walks of life with no special training or skills to serve other than being a U.S. citizen who is at least 18 years old, residing in the judicial district for a set period of time typically one year, being proficient in English, having no disqualifying mental or physical conditions, and not having a pending or previous felony conviction. In fact, over 32 million people are called for jury service every year, according to the National Center for State Courts.

Serving on a jury is a hallmark of our justice system and a cornerstone of democracy. But did you know that, unlike judges, juries historically have been able to ignore the law in order to achieve justice in individual cases that involve unjust rules or their unjust application? This is known as jury nullification. Below, you will find a discussion of jury nullification, including how it’s defined, its legality, examples, and where to find more information.

Jury nullification might sound like a convoluted concept in an already confusing legal system, but the idea is actually quite simple. It happens when a jury returns a verdict of Not Guilty despite its belief that the defendant is guilty of the violation charged. Why would a jury do this? Don’t jurors swear an oath to uphold the law? Yes, but oftentimes it is a tool juries can use to set aside a law they believe is immoral or wrongly applied to the accused.

Jury nullification is legal according to the U.S. Supreme Court, but whether or not juries need to be instructed on this right is a different matter. The Supreme Court has ruled that while the power of jury nullification exists, state courts and prosecutors are not required to inform jurors of this power. Accordingly, judges around the country have routinely forbidden any mention of jury nullification in the courtroom. For example, a 2016 push by New Hampshire lawmakers to require a jury nullification instruction was quashed in the state Senate.

The right to disregard the law if you morally disagree with it also comes from the fact that jurors cannot be punished for the verdict they render, no matter how unpopular it is to the general public or the specific judge presiding over the case. Also, defendants found not guilty cannot be retried for the same crime. Hence, once a jury finds a defendant not guilty, there is no mechanism for a prosecutor to bring the case against the same defendant again.

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.

Mandatory Sentences and Theories

State and federal criminal statutes that include mandatory sentences require judges to impose identical sentences on all persons convicted of the same offense. Mandatory sentences are state and federal legislators’ response to the public perception about judicial leniency or inconsistency in sentencing practices.

However, it’s important to note that most crimes do not carry mandatory sentences. If sentencing is not mandatory, judges may “fit the punishment to the offender” rather than “fit the punishment to the crime.” Sentencing structures with substantial ranges of punishments per crime allow judges wide discretion to allow mitigating and aggravating factors to have a great effect on the sentences rendered.

Competing theories about criminal justice help to fuel the different approaches to sentencing and punishment. These include the severity of punishment rendered, and the specific objective sought by the punishment:

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.

Segregation: This philosophy does not address financial or racial divisions, but rather seeks to separate criminals from society through strict sentences. The idea is protect society by keeping criminals “off the streets.”

Rehabilitation: Others believe that the primary purpose of punishment should be to rehabilitate criminals to mend their criminal ways and to encourage the adoption of a more socially acceptable lifestyle.

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.

Closure for Victims’ Families: Relatives and friends of crime victims, especially murder victims, often argue that only the strictest sentences bring them justice. In the case of murder victims, loved ones often say they felt vindicated after a death sentence was carried out. Others claim they were re-empowered and no longer felt like victims.

Proponents of mandatory sentences cite deterrence as a motivating factor for mandatory sentencing schemes like theThree-Strikes Laws. Opponents of mandatory sentencing argue criminals are not deterred by strict mandatory sentences. Criminals, they say, are deterred more by an increased chance of conviction rather than a longer sentence. One famous example against deterrence stories that medieval pickpockets used to be hanged in London, and the most likely place to get your pocket picked was at a medieval English pickpocket hanging.

In 2010, the Sentencing Commission of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts noted that federal sentencing requirements often punish defendants more harshly for crimes that threaten potential violence than for crimes that conclude in actual violence. Other studies have noted the high disparity in severe mandatory sentences for crimes likely to be committed by minorities with those of whites. Disparities like these sparked public outcry, and ultimately led to President Obama’s signing of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010.

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.

Appealing a Sentence

Imagine you were charged with a serious felony by your state prosecutor. You went to trial and, despite your attorney’s best efforts, twelve people didn’t believe your story and found you guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Can you appeal?

Now imagine the same scenario, but instead of taking the case to trial, you pled guilty because you didn’t really want to deal with the hassle of a court case. Can you appeal in this situation?

The answer in the first case is yes; if you went to trial and were convicted, you have the automatic opportunity to file an appeal of your conviction and sentence. In the second case, the opportunity to have the court of appeal review your case is not automatic. Your attorney will have to ask permission from the court to file an appeal of a plea bargain or guilty plea.

Also, keep in mind that you can only challenge errors in the criminal process or in the application of the law, not merely to get a second bite at the apple, so to speak.

The following is an explanation of what happens when you appeal a sentence, including the importance of speaking with a criminal defense attorney skilled in appellate work.

Whether you are convicted or plead guilty, an appeal in a criminal case does not happen automatically. There is the extra step of having your attorney file the notice of appeal and appellate brief arguing your case. As stated above, you do have the automatic right to an appeal if you have been convicted, but you have to trigger the process, so to speak. Criminal defendants who plead guilty (or no contest) have their request to appeal denied.

In order to get a court of appeals to look at your case, your attorney will need to file a notice of appeal in a timely fashion. There are rarely second chances with the deadline. You either meet it or you don’t. If you don’t, you’ll need good cause why didn’t following the filing rules. While your attorney will know more, if you have thinking of appealing, it is important you tell you attorney about your intention as soon as possible. If your criminal defense attorney is not skilled in appellate work, they will have to refer you to someone else. Regardless, the clock is ticking and you need to make sure you file you notice of appeal on time.

Your lawyer will order the trial transcript from the court reporter once your notice of appeal is filed with the intermediate-level appellate court (or state Supreme Court in some jurisdictions). A transcript is the official record of what happened in your case. Your lawyer and the prosecutor will write appellate briefs arguing legal issues, supported by the trial transcript.

The next step in the process is getting a date for oral arguments where your attorney will appear before a panel of judges and argue on your behalf.

While you may have a new trial strategy, new evidence, or simply didn’t like your lawyer, the plain truth is that you cannot bring that into an appeal. Appellate judges will look only at the “four corners” of the court reporter’s transcript to make sure that the verdict was correct based upon the evidence and that the trial was fair and that there wasn’t a violation of your due process rights. The judges will come to a decision and write an opinion stating their reasons for either affirming your conviction or granting your appeal.

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.