Sunday, July 25, 2010

Fighting a Seattle DUI

Being involved in a DUI case can be frightening, stressful, and financially draining. To successfully fight a Seattle DUI, you must find an experienced attorney who has a complete understanding of the DUI laws in Washington State, and who is willing to represent your case in a professional manner.

Being convicted of a DUI in Washington can have strong consequences that can affect the future of everyone involved. The convicted person may face jail time, lose driving privileges and be faced with hefty fines. The embarrassment and inconvenience of these consequences is often long lasting and can affect loved ones and spouses as well.

To effectively fight a DUI case, it’s important to find effective legal representation. The most qualified Seattle DUI attorneys are well-versed in all areas of DUI law in Washington state, including any new updates or alterations to DUI law. In most cases, attorneys who specialize in DUI cases will meet with you for a free consultation. During this meeting, they will listen to the details of your situation and provide a brief evaluation of your options. Taking advantage of free consultations can help you to learn more about the legal firm and their approach to handling cases like yours.

Researching law firms online that specialize in DUI cases is also an effective way to determine which attorneys are the best for your needs. Most reputable law firms will include testimonials from previous clients that speak to the firm’s successes. Reading through the experiences of past clients can help you decide if the approach the firm takes is right for you.

The stress of a DUI case can be scary, but being prepared with the best legal counsel for you can take the guesswork and fear out of your case. Whether you are facing a DUI or BUI, understanding your rights and laws in Washington state is best achieved by hiring an attorney that specializes in cases similar to yours. Being prepared with a well-qualified attorney or legal team will give you the chance to fight your DUI case and insure a fair outcome.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Accused of domestic violence?

In Washington State a call to police regarding an allegation of domestic violence can lead to significant and immediate consequences – consequences that may never have been intended by the 911 caller or even by the alleged victim, if different from the caller. Once a person has been accused of domestic violence in Washington State, he/she should ensure that he/she does not go through the legal process alone; it is a minefield that can realistically only be navigated by the most seasoned and adept Washington State domestic violence attorney. Below is a general synopsis of what is likely to happen if police are called to an alleged domestic violence scene:

(1) The Police are legally obligated, or otherwise required, to arrest and take to jail anyone accused of domestic violence if the police contact the parties within four hours of when the crime allegedly occurred.handcuffs

(2) The Police will arrest the person they decide is the primary aggressor in the incident. Often, the determination of who was the primary aggressor is made with little to no investigation; in fact, the decision is generally made on no more than a few simple things like a person’s size or gender, or who told a better story or who appeared more believable.

(3) A person charged with a domestic violence related allegation is required to appear at all court proceedings. There are usually several times an accused must appear in court; the loss of time at work and/or school can be significant no matter what the outcome of the case may be.

(4) It is likely that a person accused of a domestic violence related crime will be required to post a bail; those costs typically range from hundreds to even thousands of dollars.

(5) Courts are likely to issue a No Contact Order which prohibits an accused from having any contact with the alleged victim and possibly others involved in the incident such as children and/or other relatives. The No Contact Order may also include a prohibition of one’s presence in places, such as his/her home, business or even school.

(6) Courts are likely to issue an order mandating that an accused surrender any and all weapons that he/she owns; the weapons, depending on the outcome of the case, may be forfeited, and if a person is convicted of any domestic violence related offense he/she will lose his/her right to possess a firearm for life pursuant to federal laws and regulations.

Because of the grave consequences associated with domestic violence related allegations, it is of paramount importance that a person accused of committing a crime involving domestic violence have a strong and articulate advocate on his/her side. Washington State domestic violence cases often involve complex family dynamics that require a true understanding of the circumstances surrounding the facts and issues that gave rise to the police being called in the first place. The parties’ story often needs to be conveyed to the prosecution and to the court in a manner that can be understood and accepted; it needs to be conveyed in a manner that can be appreciated, without passing judgment. The Seattle criminal attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys have the ability and the passion to accomplish just this goal. SQ Attorneys is a collection of Washington State litigators with a stellar reputation for being highly effective Seattle domestic violence defense lawyers; they are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those arrested for domestic violence in and around Western Washington and the greater Puget Sound region. The team is designed to create success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office so as to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the criminal allegations brought against the accused are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances. If accused of domestic violence in Washington State, protect your rights – contact SQ Attorneys.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Can I get a job with a DUI??

A DUI arrest in Washington State can potentially have a very significant impact on one’s employment status, especially if driving is part of one’s job duties. Even if it is not part of one’s job duties, and the person simply needs to drive to and from work, a DUI arrest in Washington can have devastating consequences on that person’s employment status. If you are cited for DUI in Washington there are two ways you can suffer a loss of your driving privilege: (1) administratively at the hands of the Department of Licensing, and (2) by court action if you are subsequently convicted of DUI.

Because of a relatively recent change in Washington State DUI law, most Washington drivers are now able to apply for an ignition interlock license if they lose their driving privileges due to a DUI arrest. This license permits persons to drive, but only if their vehicle is equipped with an approved ignition interlock device, and only if they have special “high risk” insurance coverage. The ignition interlock license is even required on work-related vehicles unless the applicant qualifies for an exception as outlined in the Revised Code of Washington 46.20.720, which states in part: “The device is not necessary on vehicles owned by a person’s employer and driven as a requirement of employment during working hours. The person must provide the department with a declaration pursuant to RCW 9A.72.085 from his or her employer stating that the person’s employment requires the person to operate a vehicle owned by the employer during working hours.” Unfortunately this exception is not helpful to employees who rent vehicles when travelling out of town on business, nor for real estate agents driving their personal vehicle to show houses to clients.

Moreover, if a person’s job involves traveling out of town by airplane and/or train, and the subsequent rental of cars, a DUI arrest in Washington can cause problems because law enforcement personnel are required to punch a hole in the arrested person’s driver’s license at the time of the DUI arrest. First, Airport TSA personnel may not accept the punched license as a valid form of identification to permit entry into the airport. Second, most car rental agencies presume the hole in the license means that it is not valid and will not rent the car to the person. The foregoing is true even though the license may actually be valid. No amount of explaining by the embarrassed business traveler, however, will overcome either TSA’s or the car rental company’s suspicions. As to the first problem, the best practice in the airport security situation is to travel using a passport as identification. As to the second problem, the best practice in the car rental situation is to try and obtain a letter from the Washington State Department of Licensing indicating the driver’s license is valid, regardless of the hole-punch.

Some employment positions can be lost by a Washington State DUI arrest or conviction. This may be so for reasons other than the loss of the ability to drive in Washington State. For example, employees with security clearances, corporate officers, and even some “public figures” may find language in their employment contract that indicates that being arrested for DUI in Washington will result in negative employment implications. Because of this, it is always wise to determine what the corporate policy is in the event of a Washington DUI arrest so that you will not be terminated for failing to report an arrest if you are required to do so; in particular, Pilots and/or medical professionals who are arrested for DUI in Washington State should be particularly careful to abide by any applicable reporting requirements to their employer and/or licensing agencies. Even if not by contractual terms, the affected person may find that if the matter comes to the attention of the media that the impact of negative publicity is more damaging to their career than the actual “legal” consequences of the Washington DUI.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Oh Canada ... Oh Canada ... Why won't you let me in??

The Canadian Immigration and Refugee Act (hereinafter referred to as, the “Act”) legislates who is authorized to enter and/or travel into the great white north — Canada. Under the Act, no person who has been deemed to have committed an “Indictable Offense” may enter Canada unless he has been found to have been “Rehabilitated.” Even if a criminal charge is pending (unresolved) in the United States, the Refugee Act treats the accused as if he is “Under Indictment” and thus excludes him from entry into Canada. It is neither the status of the United States crime, nor the seriousness of the United States crime that determines eligibility to enter or travel into Canada; admissibility is determined by what the United States crime equates to under Canadian law.

The Canadian government views DUI’s differently than our United States governmental bodies. For instance, a DUI charge in Washington State is generally a gross misdemeanor. In Canada, however, a DUI is considered a “hybrid” offense, and as such a Washington state DUI is considered either (1) an “Indictable Offense” (Felony), or (2) one that can be prosecuted as a “Summary Conviction Offense” (Misdemeanor); the prosecuting authority gets to elect how to proceed on hybrid crimes. As such, a person with a Washington State DUI can (and most likely will) be excluded from entering and/or traveling into Canada.

Generally, anyone convicted for DUI in the United States is automatically prohibited from entry and/or travel into Canada for a minimum of 10 years, or until otherwise deemed “Rehabilitated”. If a DUI charge is reduced, the final resolution of the case may be helpful for purposes of entering Canada, but even a reduction of a DUI charge does not guarantee smooth processing at the Canadian border. Retaining legal counsel can help in a person’s effort to gain entry into Canada after a criminal conviction. Unfortunately, however, it will probably take the assistance of both a licensed attorney in the United States, and a licensed attorney in Canada.

When retaining a Washington State attorney to represent you in a DUI allegation you should ensure that the attorney being retained has a basic understanding of the issues related to entering into Canada, and how a criminal conviction can curtail Canadian travel plans; many, many people in Washington enjoy the luxury of routinely traveling to and from Canada. If an attorney fails to adequately contemplate the implications of a criminal conviction on his client’s ability to travel to Canada, it can have far reaching and long lasting negative consequences.

Because of the significant consequences one faces when arrested for DUI in Washington State, it is imperative that he retain a qualified Washington State DUI attorney so as to not only best minimize the myriad of legal consequences he faces, but also to protect his rights and liberty interests. The Seattle criminal attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified Seattle DUI lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those charged with DUI in and around Western Washington and the greater Puget Sound region. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the DUI allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible.