November 22, 2017

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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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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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…]

Zealously defending the client from the start

The U.S. Supreme Court recently recognized the value of a criminal defense attorney in the pre-trial process. Noting that some 94 percent to 97 percent of convictions are the result of guilty pleas, the high court said people have the Constitutional right to an effective criminal defense lawyer during the plea bargaining process.

This is a good thing, most lawyers agree. When 19 out of 20 cases – everything from DUI charges to felony murders – are resolved with plea agreements, it’s essential that effective lawyer action is part of that process from the beginning.
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You can be arrested for calling 911

Calling 911 is for emergencies, but we’ve all probably heard stories of people who have called the number for minor problems. In Washington State anytime police are called to a domestic violence call, if they are able to determine the primary aggressor (from the officer’s perspective) then police will arrest the primary aggressor and take them to the County Jail where they will remain most often until they see a Judge who will very frequently impose a no contact order. I have personally represented individuals arrested for domestic violence when the original 911 caller did not claim any domestic violence. Other examples that should make you think before dialing 911 for non-emergency problems are outlined below.
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Washington State passes tougher DUI laws

Washington State legislators have passed tougher penalties and new rules related to driving under the influence. The new law will change the definition of a DUI to include “huffing chemical substances,” according to an article in the Whidbey Examiner, New DUI law stiffens penalties, opens records.
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You have the right to remain silent – use it

Most people never think about getting arrested. Most never are. So most never think about the need for a criminal defense attorney until they get caught up in something beyond their control, such as a seemingly simple arrest for DUI, Assault-Domestic Violence, or other criminal charge.
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