September 24, 2017

The Miranda Warning: Knowing your rights

Anyone who has ever watched a crime show on television probably will have heard the Miranda warning or some variation of it: “You have the right to remain silent…etc.” However, you might not know that the Miranda warning exists outside the realm of television, in real life. In fact, it is an integral part of an American citizen’s legal rights, designed to protect a person who has been accused, but not convicted, of a crime. But what is the Miranda warning, and how is it applied?

The Miranda warning originates from the 1966 Miranda v. Arizona case. The suspect, Ernesto Miranda, confessed to committing a crime while being questioned by police. He was not informed by the police questioning him that he had the right to remain silent or that he had the right to an attorney during the questioning. The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, who ruled that Miranda’s Fifth Amendment right (the right not to incriminate oneself in a crime) had been violated, and that his statements could not be used as evidence. (Later Miranda was tried again with new evidence not obtained from his questioning and convicted.)
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Wrongful Termination: What is it? What are my options?

In the current economy, the job market can often be harsh. Unfortunately, many Americans have lost their jobs, and many businesses have performed lay-offs or dismissed employees. Most businesses practice care to ethically dismiss employees. But what about those that don’t?

Washington is an at-will state, which means that an employer may dismiss an employee for any reason beyond those prohibited by state and federal law. This is the standard employment agreement in Washington, unless there is an implied or explicit contract between the employer and employee that permits dismissal only for identified reasons. (For more information about employment practices prohibited by state and federal law, read our blog post “Discrimination in Employment”).
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Discrimination in employment

There are certain practices that employers are prohibited from doing when hiring, working with, or dismissing employees. These practices are prohibited by law and enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The laws are in place for the employee’s and the job-seeker’s protection, forbidding “discrimination in every aspect of employment,” according to the EEOC. In Washington, as well as the rest of United States, it is illegal for an employer to do the following:

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Distracted driving laws become more widely enacted

Most of us are well aware of the dangers of breaking traffic laws by speeding, running stop signs, and drinking and driving. But, driving distracted? Previously, distracted driving was rarely talked about, and the prevailing mentality was that everyone has to change the radio station sometime. However, with the advent of cell phones and texting (and the resulting accidents), distracted driving has become a hot-button issue.

A recent article in USA Today reports that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood stated his creation of a “national distracted driving initiative that pushes 11 states without laws against the deadly practice to enact them.” According to the article, LaHood has also advised Congress to adopt a nation-wide ban on cellphone use while driving.
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Fire in the Park to support local firefighters

As all of America watches, aghast, as several wildfires rage across Colorado, claiming homes and displacing thousands, many are ever more grateful for this country’s firefighters. This summer, we can show our gratitude by supporting the men and women of the Vancouver Firefighters, local union 452.

The 4th Annual (metaphorically named) Fire in the Park returns to Vancouver this month. The event is the Vancouver Firefighter’s Union Annual Charity. The event will be held on July 21st at Esther Short Park in Vancouver. Fire in the Park is free to attend, but donations are welcome and appreciated.

The annual charity event boasts many entertaining activities and delicious food. Events consist of: [Read more…]

Am I Under Arrest? – Knowing the Difference Between Arrest and Conviction

There is often a great deal of confusion regarding the difference between an arrest and a conviction of a crime.  An arrest is significantly different from a conviction and in both situations a criminal defense lawyer can be particularly helpful in dealing with the issues surrounding an arrest, and the following investigation.

An arrest is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “the act of taking or keeping in custody by authority of law.”  Literally an arrest means that a person was taken into police custody because there was probable cause to believe the person committed a crime.  An arrest is not a finding that the person is guilty or any crime, and it is not necessarily proof that the person has done anything wrong at all.  Instead, an arrest is an informal accusation of a criminal offense.

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The DUI Process

Driving under the influence law, commonly known as DUI law, deals with the criminal charges associated with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence or alcohol or drugs.  Driving with a blood alcohol content, or BAC, of .08 or higher is a criminal offense in all 50 states and in Washington D.C.

In Washington State, driving under the influence (RCW 46.61.502 and RCW 46.61.5055) for the first offense will probably result in a gross misdemeanor charge.  According to the State of Washington Administrative Office of the Courts, a driver with a BAC at .14% or lower may face a minimum of 24 hours in jail and a maximum of 365 days. A person with no prior DUI offenses may face a 90-day license suspension or a fine up to $5,000.   A driver with a DUI from the past 7 years can expect additional consequences.  Other factors like the driver’s BAC, criminal history, and age can change the charge.

When a person is stopped for a potential DUI offense, two separate proceedings begin.  The administrative proceeding is conducted through the Department of Licensing and the criminal law process is conducted through the court system.
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Vancouver Urban Growers Market comes back May 25

Vancouver’s Urban Growers Market is coming back for a second year, starting May 25 through Sept. 28. The market will feature produce from backyard and small plot farmers market, crafts and art, a local food court, music and other fun activities.

The market will be at 2315 Main St., next to One World Merchants in Uptown Village. It will take place every second and fourth Friday, from 4 to 8 p.m.

You can find out more, including a list of vendors and sponsors at The Urban Growers Market website.

Search warrants needed for most vehicle searches

Washington recently joined the ranks of states that provide individuals with privacy rights broader than what’s afforded to them via the federal constitution. Mike Carter of the Seattle Times reported on the Washington Supreme Court’s landmark opinion in State v. Sapp, in his article “State Supreme Court Imposes Limits on Vehicle Searches.

The 8-1 ruling made on April 5, 2012, overturned convictions in two consolidated cases where police found drugs after stopping the vehicle and performing a search. The decision establishes that police must obtain a search warrant prior to searching a vehicle regardless of what type of relevant evidence they suspect the vehicle may hold. [Read more…]

Staying in touch with clients

We recently learned two things about George Zimmerman, the accused shooter who was indicted on a murder charge in the Trayvon Martin case in Florida.

One is that his criminal defense lawyers dropped out of the case because they had trouble keeping in contact with their client. The second is that Zimmerman was talking to the media, despite his defense attorney’s best efforts to keep him from doing so.

“One of the things every defense attorney tells his client is don’t talk to the prosecutors, don’t talk to the cops, frankly don’t talk to anybody until we get control of the situation,” said attorney Hall Uhrig. Zimmerman’s second attorney, Craig Sonner said the two were withdrawing because “we’ve lost contact with him.” [Read more…]