Capital Punishment

In June 2003 Governor George Ryan of Illinois stirred controversy when he commuted the death sentences of 167 inmates to life imprisonment. Ryan said he had concluded the state’s capital punishment system was “haunted by the demon of error.” His action came three years after he ordered a moratorium on executions after evidence proved that 13 inmates on death row had been wrongly convicted. Ryan, a Republican, had sought office with a platform that supported capital punishment. Washington and most other States have slowly abolished the death penalty.

In a 1989 case, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the execution of inmates who had serious mental health issues. In the years following, however, many states enacted legislation to prohibit such executions. In 2002, in Atkins v. Virginia, the Supreme Court voted 6-3 that the execution of mentally ill persons is prohibited under the Eighth Amendment as cruel and unusual punishment.

Despite his role in a landmark court decision, Daryl Atkins currently resides on Virginia’s death row. When the Supreme Court reversed the lower court ruling, it also remanded Atkins’ case so that he could be resentenced. After the decision in Atkins, the Virginia legislature passed legislation to define mental illness. A jury then heard evidence only on the issue of his mental ability. After deliberating 13 hours, and weighing conflicting testimony, the jury concluded that Atkins was not mentally ill and could, therefore, be sentenced to death. Attorneys for Atkins filed an appeal in October 2005.

In 2005, in another historic decision, the U.S. Supreme Court barred the execution of persons who are under the age of 18 when they commit capital crimes. The ruling in Roper v. Simmons followed the same reasoning used by the Court in Atkins. In a 5-4 decision, the majority found that “evolving standards of decency” and the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment required the banning of juvenile executions. In its reasoning, the court gave credence to the fact that few nations in the world allow the execution of juveniles.

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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Crime Classifications

Crime classification can make a difference in both substantive and procedural criminal law. Substantive criminal law defines the elements of many crimes in reference to whether they were committed in furtherance of a felony. Burglary, for example, requires proof that the defendant broke into another person’s dwelling with the intent to commit a felony. If a defendant convinces a jury that he only had the intent to steal a misdemeanor’s worth of property after breaking into the victim’s home, the jury cannot return a conviction for burglary.

The substantive consequences of being convicted of a felony are also more far reaching than the consequences for other types of crimes. One convicted of a felony is disqualified from holding public office in many jurisdictions. Felons may also lose their right to vote or serve on a jury. In several states attorneys convicted of a felony lose their right to practice law. Misdemeanants with no felony record rarely face such serious consequences.

Criminal procedure sets forth different rules that govern courts, defendants, and law enforcement agents depending on the crime’s classification. The Fourth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution allows police officers to make warrantless arrests of suspected felons in public areas so long as the arresting officer possesses probable cause that the suspect committed the crime. Officers may make warrantless arrests of suspected misdemeanants only if the crime is committed in the officer’s presence. Police officers do not have the authority to shoot an alleged misdemeanant while attempting to make an arrest, unless the shots are fired in self-defense. Officers generally have more authority to use deadly force when effectuating the arrest of a felon.

Most criminal courts have limited jurisdiction over the kinds of cases they can hear, usually based on crime classifications. For example, a court with jurisdiction over only misdemeanors has no power to try a defendant charged with a felony. Defendants may be charged by information (i.e., a formal written instrument setting forth the criminal accusations against a defendant) when they are accused of a misdemeanor, whereas many jurisdictions require that defendants be charged by a grand jury when they are accused of a felony.

Defendants charged with capital felony offenses (i.e. offenses for which the death penalty might be imposed as a sentence) are entitled to have their cases heard by a jury of twelve persons who must unanimously agree as to the issue of guilt before returning a conviction. Defendants charged with non-capital felonies and misdemeanors may have their cases heard by as few as six jurors who, depending on the jurisdiction and the size of the jury actually impaneled, may return a conviction on a less than unanimous vote.

The right to trial by jury is generally not afforded to defendants charged only with infractions, or in a civil law suit between parties. Defendants charged with felonies or misdemeanors that actually result in confinement to a jail or prison are entitled to the advice and representation of a court appointed counsel. Defendants charged with infractions or misdemeanors that do not result in incarceration are not entitled to court appointed counsel.

Accused felons must generally be present during their trials, while accused misdemeanants may agree to waive their right to be present. The testimony of defendants and witnesses may be impeached on the ground of a former felony conviction. But a misdemeanor is not considered sufficiently serious to be grounds for impeachment in most jurisdictions. Because of all the additional procedural safeguards afforded to defendants charged with more serious criminal offenses, defendants must usually consent to any prosecution effort to downgrade a criminal offense to a lower level at which fewer safeguards are offered.

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 Death Penalty

In June 2003 Governor George Ryan of Illinois stirred controversy when he commuted the death sentences of 167 inmates to life imprisonment. Ryan said he had concluded the state’s capital punishment system was “haunted by the demon of error.” His action came three years after he ordered a moratorium on executions after evidence proved that 13 inmates on death row had been wrongly convicted. Ryan, a Republican, had sought office with a platform that supported capital punishment. Washington and most other States have slowly abolished the death penalty.

In a 1989 case, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the execution of inmates who had serious mental health issues. In the years following, however, many states enacted legislation to prohibit such executions. In 2002, in Atkins v. Virginia, the Supreme Court voted 6-3 that the execution of mentally ill persons is prohibited under the Eighth Amendment as cruel and unusual punishment.

Despite his role in a landmark court decision, Daryl Atkins currently resides on Virginia’s death row. When the Supreme Court reversed the lower court ruling, it also remanded Atkins’ case so that he could be resentenced. After the decision in Atkins, the Virginia legislature passed legislation to define mental illness. A jury then heard evidence only on the issue of his mental ability. After deliberating 13 hours, and weighing conflicting testimony, the jury concluded that Atkins was not mentally ill and could, therefore, be sentenced to death. Attorneys for Atkins filed an appeal in October 2005.

In 2005, in another historic decision, the U.S. Supreme Court barred the execution of persons who are under the age of 18 when they commit capital crimes. The ruling in Roper v. Simmons followed the same reasoning used by the Court in Atkins. In a 5-4 decision, the majority found that “evolving standards of decency” and the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment required the banning of juvenile executions. In its reasoning, the court gave credence to the fact that few nations in the world allow the execution of juveniles.

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.

How Can I Get My Case Dismissed?

Certain types of offenses and offenders may qualify for programs that result in the dismissal of the case against the defendant upon completion of specified conditions. These programs go by several different names, but they all remove the defendant from the ordinary channels of prosecution so that the defendant may complete certain conditions. Once the defendant meets the conditions, either the prosecutor or the court will dismiss the charges.

The goal of this sort of program is to allow the defendant time to rehabilitate themselves and demonstrate that they are capable of behaving responsibly. For so doing, the state rewards the defendant by dismissing the charges.

These programs are typically used for drug or domestic offenses, or for first-time offenders. The conditions imposed typically include some form of counseling and/or probation, and require the defendant to demonstrate good conduct throughout the program.

There are two types of these kinds of programs: those that require the defendant to first plead guilty to the charge and those that do not. The former type is usually known as deferred sentence, while the latter category is generally known as pretrial diversion or a stipulated order of continuance.

Pretrial diversion removes a defendant from prosecution prior to a guilty or nolo contendere (no contest) plea. In addition to pretrial diversion, the following terms are often used to describe this sort of program: deferred prosecution; pretrial intervention; accelerated pretrial rehabilitation and/or accelerated rehabilitative disposition.

As mentioned above, in a pretrial diversion the prosecutor halts the case against the defendant so that the defendant can meet certain conditions. These conditions can include probation, counseling and community service, among others.

In most cases, the prosecutor has the discretion to admit a defendant to a pretrial diversion program. A statute will set the eligibility requirements, but a prosecutor will make the ultimate determination about whether or not to allow a defendant to enter into a pretrial diversion program. In some jurisdictions, judges can suggest pretrial diversion for a defendant or have the final say about admitting a defendant to pretrial diversion.

Sometimes prosecutors must get the consent of the victim of the crime before they can put a defendant into pretrial diversion. Certain things, such as previous involvement in a pretrial diversion program, can render a defendant ineligible for pretrial diversion.

In addition, prosecutors will usually require a candidate for pretrial diversion to waive their right to a speedy trial and their protections under the relevant statute of limitations.

The length of a pre-trial diversion program varies between states and for felonies and misdemeanors. For misdemeanors, they generally run from six months to a year, while felonies generally run for one to two years. But always check with your particular state and jurisdiction to learn more about your specific situation.

If the defendant fails to meet the conditions of the pretrial diversion program, prosecutors can put the defendant on trial as if no diversion had taken place.

A deferred sentence begins after a defendant has pleaded guilty or nolo contendere. In this way, it resembles probation, but in most other respects a deferred adjudication proceeds similarly to a pretrial diversion. In addition to deferred adjudication, this sort of program is also known as a stay of adjudication.

Even though the defendant pleads guilty or nolo contendere in a deferred adjudication, the court will not enter a judgment of guilt. Instead, like a pretrial diversion, the court will lay out a number of conditions that the defendant must meet. If the defendant meets the conditions, the charges are dismissed and the defendant will not have a record of conviction.

If, on the other hand, the defendant does not satisfy the conditions, the court will enter a judgment and determine a punishment. At this point, the defendants record will show a conviction.

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.

My Right To A Lawyer

The Washington State Supreme Court, in State v. Fedorov, affirmed a conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol where a police officer remained in a room while a defendant was a on a telephone call with a lawyer before consenting to a breath test. The Court held that the rule-based right to counsel under CrR 3.1 does not require absolute privacy for conversations with an attorney, and instead only requires an opportunity to contact an attorney.

So what is this right to counsel rule that a criminal defendant has and where does it come from?

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, or have access to an attorney during all criminal proceedings, from the time an individual is arrested, through a jury trial. In certain scenarios, this right can go beyond a jury trial and attach through the first appeal upon a conviction. 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 the most importance in almost every criminal case. The specific duties of an attorney vary depending on the nature of the charges and the case, but there are several key responsibilities of all defense attorneys regardless of the charge. Firstly, a defense attorney is responsible for advising the defendant of their rights and explaining the several different stages of a criminal proceeding. Secondly, the attorney must ensure the defendant’s constitutional rights were not violated during their contact with law enforcement and during all court proceedings.

Some additional duties and obligations of an attorney includes: 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; Negotiating a plea bargain with the government, on the defendant’s behalf; From arraignment to sentencing: investigating facts and evidence, cross-examining government witnesses, objecting to improper questions and evidence, and presenting any legal defenses.

To What Standards is a Criminal Defense Attorney Held?

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.

Indictments Explained

You’ve probably heard the word “indictment” mentioned on your favorite TV crime drama or the nightly news, typically in the context of someone being charged with a serious crime. You know it’s not a good thing for the person being indicted, but what exactly does it mean? Simply stated, an indictment is a formal accusation against someone who is suspected of committing a serious crime, filed after the conclusion of a grand jury investigation.

So how does an indictment differ from a criminal complaint filed by a prosecutor? What is the burden of proof for obtaining an indictment? And do federal indictments differ from those in state courts?

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires the federal government to seek an indictment from a grand jury in order to prosecute someone for a felony or “otherwise infamous” crime. Since an indictment comes after a grand jury but typically before an arrest, it may be “sealed” for however much time is needed to prevent the defendant or other suspects from fleeing, destroying evidence, or otherwise evading justice.

The grand jury requirement is not extended to the states, but many states follow a similar procedure for the prosecution of serious felonies (and some misdemeanors).

When suspects are charged with lesser crimes (such as misdemeanors or lower-level felonies), the process generally begins with the prosecutor filing a criminal complaint, often following an arrest and only when there is probable cause for the charges. Some courts use preliminary hearings instead of grand juries to determine probable cause for more serious criminal charges, where judges decide whether there is enough evidence for the case to go to trial.

In contrast, a grand jury indictment is the product of sworn witness testimony and/or physical evidence, analyzed by a grand jury made up of local citizens. The grand jury’s role is to determine whether there is in fact probable cause (not guilt) for criminal charges, which generally carries much more weight than a simple criminal complaint. Grand juries are convened in secrecy and usually don’t involve judges or defense lawyers.

Defendants may choose to waive their right to a grand jury if the prosecutor is offering an attractive plea bargain, but doing so amounts to an agreement with the prosecution that it has enough evidence to take the case to 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.

I Killed Someone!

SQ Attorneys handles all criminal charges including murder and/or homicide cases. When someone takes the life of another, regardless of intent or other details surrounding the incident, it is called a homicide. Homicide is not always a crime, such as in cases of self-defense or the state-sanctioned execution of certain convicted criminals. Criminal homicides involve either negligence or willful intent, and range from involuntary manslaughter (killing another motorist in a drunk driving accident, for example) to first-degree murder (stalking and killing a member of a rival gang, for instance). Sentences also vary widely, depending on the severity of the crime and other mitigating factors. For example, some states sentence convicted murderers to death but provide psychiatric treatment to those acquitted by reason of insanity. This section provides in-depth information about homicide in its various forms. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local criminal defense attorney.

There are two general categories for murder defenses. One is when a defense attorney tries to show that the prosecution is trying the wrong person and the second is when an attorney admits that the accused murderer killed, but did so in a manner that was justified including self-defense, defense of others, exercise of duty, insanity and more.

The possible sentences for first degree murder vary widely by state. However, punishment for first-degree murder is among the most strict that can be handed down by the court. It is one of the few crimes that can be legally punished by death in certain cases. Certain aggravating factors include aspects of the crime, of the defendant, or of the victim(s) will render the defendant eligible for either the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

There are several defenses an attorney can assert to fight a charge of voluntary manslaughter. The most common include self-defense ( the killing resulted from a reasonable use of force to resist a reasonable fear of death or bodily harm), defense of others (use of force must be timely and proportional to the threat faced, and the perceived threat of death or bodily harm must be reasonable), and accidental killing (the death occurred as the result of an accident).

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.

What are the Three Strikes Law?

Many have heard about the “three strikes” law which 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.

Hearsay, Hearsay, Hearsay ….

Today we will discuss a well-known rule of evidence called “hearsay.” Many have heard about it, and have a general understanding of what it may be, but today’s blog will focus on explaining the intricacies of the hearsay rule. The rule against hearsay is deceptively simple and full of exceptions. Hearsay is an out of court statement, made in court, to prove the truth of the matter asserted. In other words, hearsay is evidence of a statement that was made other than by a witness while testifying at the hearing in question and that is offered to prove the truth of the matter stated. For example, Witness A in a murder trial claimed on the stand: “Witness B (the “declarant”) told me that the defendant killed the victim.” The definition of hearsay is not too difficult to understand. But the matter can become very confusing when one considers all of the many exceptions to the general rule against hearsay.

Even if a statement meets the requirements for hearsay, the statement may yet be admissible under one of the exceptions to the hearsay rule. The Federal Rules of Evidence (FRE) contains nearly thirty of these exceptions. Most of them are generally available, although a few of them are limited to times when the declarant is unavailable.

There are twenty-four exceptions in the federal rules that do not require proof that the person who made the statement is unavailable. These are:

Business records, including those of a public agency

Certain public records and reports

Evidence of a judgment of conviction for certain purposes

Evidence of the absence of a business record or entry

Excited utterances or spontaneous statements

Family records concerning family history

Judgments of a court concerning personal history, family history, general history, or          boundaries, where those matters were essential to the judgment

Learned treatises used to question an expert witness

Market reports, commercial publications, and the like

Marriage, baptismal, and similar certificates

Past recollections recorded

Recorded documents purporting to affect interests in land

Records of religious organizations concerning personal or family history

Records of vital statistics

Reputation concerning boundaries or general history

Reputation concerning family history

Reputation of a person’s character

Statements about the declarant’s present sense impressions

Statements about the declarant’s then existing mental, emotional, or physical condition

Statements in authentic ancient documents (at least 20 years old)

Statements in other documents purporting to affect interests in land and relevant to          the purpose of the document

Statements made by the declarant for the purpose of medical diagnosis or treatment

Statements of the absence of a public record or entry

The “catchall” rule

The last exception, the so-called “catchall” rule, bears some explanation. This rule does not require that the declarant be unavailable to testify. It does say that evidence of a hearsay statement not included in one of the other exceptions may nevertheless be admitted if it meets these following conditions:

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.

Get a Lawyer!

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, or have access to an attorney during all criminal proceedings, from the time an individual is arrested, through a jury trial. In certain scenarios, this right can go beyond a jury trial and attach through the first appeal upon a conviction. 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 the most importance in almost every criminal case. The specific duties of an attorney vary depending on the nature of the charges and the case, but there are several key responsibilities of all defense attorneys regardless of the charge. Firstly, a defense attorney is responsible for advising the defendant of their rights and explaining the several different stages of a criminal proceeding. Secondly, the attorney must ensure the defendant’s constitutional rights were not violated during their contact with law enforcement and during all court proceedings. Some other obligations of a defense attorney is to advise 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; Negotiating a plea bargain with the government, on the defendant’s behalf; From arraignment to sentencing: investigating facts and evidence, cross-examining government witnesses, objecting to improper questions and evidence, and presenting any legal defenses.

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.