Sunday, October 31, 2010

Crimes of Moral Turpitude will Result in Deportation

If you are in the US on a visa, it is even more imperative that you follow the laws and avoid any criminal charges. Any criminal charge against you can serve as grounds to revoke your visa and have you deported back to your native country. If you find yourself in a this situation, contact a Seattle Criminal Lawyer at SQ Attorneys, so he can fight for your rights and avoid severe consequences such as deportation.

Many visa holders believe this means they cannot commit any major crimes, like drug crimes, assaults or violating US immigration laws. But even being convicted of simple, minor crime such as misdemeanor, can result in deportation and prevent you from returning to the US on any other type of visa for years.

Shoplifting, or theft in the third degree in Washington State is an example of a "minor" crime that can lead to federal removal proceedings. Some countries do not prosecute shoplifting crimes to the extent it is done in the US, so visitors from other countries may be unaware of how potentially devastating shoplifting charges can be for their immigration status. A Seattle Criminal Attorney from SQ Attorneys can help you navigate through this difficult process.

Foreign citizens living in Washingtn on visas may incorrectly believe if they steal something, all they have to do is give the merchandise back and all will be forgiven. Unfortunately, most shop owners and other retailers do not forgive theft matters so easily and many will seek to prosecute those who have taken items from their stores.

In Washington, a theft can either be a misdemeanor or a felony. If the value of the merchandise stolen is over $750 then it is a felony. If it is less than $250 then it is a misdemeanor. Either offense can result in deportation.

In addition to the possible jail time, community service, fines and other fees, those living in the state on student visas, temporary worker visas or with another immigrant status must also worry about the impact a shoplifting conviction can have on their immigration status.

One of the conditions for holding a US-issued immigrant visa is following all US federal and state laws. When a visa holder fails to do this, there can be serious consequences. Even charges as seemingly minor as shoplifting can trigger removal proceedings because they are considered to be crimes of moral turpitude.

Under federal immigration laws, theft crimes are considered crimes of moral turpitude. If a visa holder is convicted of a crime of moral turpitude, he or she may be deported from the country. A crime of moral turpitude is one that shocks the public conscious or is in contrast to community standards of justice, honesty and good morals.

To be a deportable offense, the visa holder does not have to be the one who actually committed the crime. Conspiracy, attempt, aiding and abetting and/or accessory charges related to a crime of moral turpitude also can result in removal from the country.

In addition to mandatory deportation, commission of certain crimes also can result in an alien not being permitted to re-enter the US for 5-20 years. Conviction for an aggravated felony, however, will permanently bar an alien from ever returning to the United States again, even on a visitor's visa.

Moreover, it is not only non-immigrant visa holders who need to be aware of the impact of being convicted of a crime on their immigration status. Those who hold valid legal resident status (green card) can also face removal proceedings for violating federal and state laws. Permanent residents who are convicted of an aggravated felony may be removed permanently from the country, no matter how long they have resided in the US or if they have family living here.

Legal residents who want to become naturalized US citizens may find their path temporarily or even permanently blocked if they do not have a clean record. In order to complete the naturalization process, immigrants must have good moral character. Conviction for crimes of moral turpitude may temporarily prevent an immigrant from becoming a US citizen while conviction for an aggravated felony will permanently bar a citizenship application.

If you have been charged with shoplifting or another crime, it is important to contact an experienced Washington Criminal Attorney as soon as possible. US immigration laws are very complicated and can be very unforgiving. You want to have an advocate who appreciates the seriousness of your situation and can help you maneuver through the complex legal system on your side. You do not want to face these charges on your own.

If you or a loved one is charged with theft in King County, Pierce County, Snohomish County, Kitsap County, Thurston County or one of the following cities or towns: Algona, Bellevue, Black Diamond, Bonney Lake, Bothell, Burien, Des Moines, Duvall, Edmonds, Enumclaw, Everett, Federal Way, fife, Hunts Point, Issaquah, Kenmore, Kent, Kirkland, Lake Forest Park, Lake Stevens, Lakewood, Lynnwood, Maple Valley, Marysville, Medina, Mercer Island, Milton, Monroe, Mountlake Terrace, New Castle, Normandy Park, North Bend, Olympia, Puyallup, Redmond, Renton, Sammamish, Sea Tac, Seattle, Shoreline, Snohomish, Sumner, Tacoma, Tukwila, University Place, and/or Woodinville, or any other city or town in Western Washington, call The Criminal Defense Team of SQ Attorneys at (206) 441-0900; (425) 998-8384 for an initial free consultation – it will be the best decision you make all day.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Uh Oh!! Not A Felony .... ??

Having to deal with a felony charge in Washington can be a complicated, overwhelming, and horrifying experience. Washington is currently a capital punishment state in which a death penalty can be imposed in an aggravated enhanced case. In addition, many criminal offenses can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending upon the circumstances and the prosecuting attorney’s application of the statutes. A Seattle Criminal Attorney can assist in navigating through the difficult process of being charged with a felony.

A felony is a crime which can be punishable by death or imprisonment for twelve months or more in the state prison. Felony cases are always filed in the state Superior Courts in the respective county in which the crime is alleged to have occurred. Misdemeanors are every other crime or public offense, with the exception of infractions. They are usually handled in lower courts and never go to Superior Court unless a felony has been amended down to a misdemeanor upon plea negotiations.

Felonies are judged to be more serious crimes against the state than misdemeanors. They include murder, rape, burglary, arson, and robbery. In Washington, some misdemeanors can be elevated to felonies. These types of crimes are known as expedited felonies. They are generally treated as lesser felonies that allows for fines or jail time as an alternative to a state prison sentence. There are also felony DUI offenses. A DUI can be charged in felony Superior Court after an individual has been charged with five DUI's in a matter of ten years. In a situation such as this, it is imperative that one contacts a Seattle DUI Attorney as the consequences are extremely serious if convicted of a felony DUI.

Moreover, Washington has a Three Strikes Law. Washington legislature enacted theCthe “Three Strikes and You’re Out” felony law, which requires that repeat offenders face increasingly elevated punishment with each ensuing felony conviction. With a second offense, a convicted felon faces a doubled prison sentence and with his/her third conviction, the defendant is automatically sentenced to 25 years to life in prison without possibility of parole. The Three Strikes Law can also affect a defendant who has been convicted of a prior misdemeanor theft and then faces a felony theft-related crime.

In light of the complexity of Washington felony laws and the severe consequences that can result from a felony conviction, if you or a loved one is facing a felony charge, it is strongly advisable to seek the advice of an experienced Seattle Criminal Attorney. A defendant can retain an attorney at any stage of their case, whether it is during the investigation or the night before court dates.

If you or a loved one is cited for or charged with a crime in King County, Pierce County, Snohomish County, Kitsap County, Thurston County or one of the following cities or towns: Algona, Bellevue, Black Diamond, Bonney Lake, Bothell, Burien, Des Moines, Duvall, Edmonds, Enumclaw, Everett, Federal Way, fife, Hunts Point, Issaquah, Kenmore, Kent, Kirkland, Lake Forest Park, Lake Stevens, Lakewood, Lynnwood, Maple Valley, Marysville, Medina, Mercer Island, Milton, Monroe, Mountlake Terrace, New Castle, Normandy Park, North Bend, Olympia, Puyallup, Redmond, Renton, Sammamish, Sea Tac, Seattle, Shoreline, Snohomish, Sumner, Tacoma, Tukwila, University Place, and/or Woodinville, or any other city or town in Western Washington, call The Criminal Defense Team of SQ Attorneys at (206) 441-0900; (425) 998-8384 for an initial free consultation.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Navigating Through the Criminal Process

Comprehending the basics about the criminal justice system in Washington is probably one of the most important ways for you to protect your rights.

Criminal laws involve prosecution by the state or a city, of a person for an action that has been deemed as a crime. Civil cases, on the other hand, include people and businesses attempting to solve legal conflicts. In a criminal legal matter, the government, by means of a prosecutor, initiates the filing of criminal charges, while in a civil case the victim brings the lawsuit. Men and women convicted of a criminal offense may be incarcerated, ticketed, or both along with numerous other sanctions. However, people found liable in a civil action may only have to hand over property or pay damages, but are not incarcerated. This is why it becomes imperative for one to retain an experienced Seattle Criminal Attorney to help navigate through the process.

A "crime" is any act or failure to act that offends or disturbs a public law forbidding or commanding it. Although there are various common law criminal offenses, many crimes in Washington State are established by local, state, and federal governments. Criminal laws differ substantially from state to state. A Seattle Criminal Attorney at SQ Attorneys will be able to fight for one's rights and ensure that you are well protected.

A criminal offense in Washington State include both felony offenses and misdemeanors. Felonies are commonly offenses punishable by imprisonment of a year or more, while misdemeanors are violations punishable by less than a year. However, no action is a crime if it has not been previously set as such either by statute or common law.

All statutes explaining criminal behavior can be divided into their different elements. Most offenses (with the exception of strict-liability crimes) contain two elements: an act, or "actus reus," and a mental state, or "mens rea". Prosecutors in Washington must prove each and every element of the crime to generate a conviction. Moreover, the prosecutor has to persuade the jury or judge "beyond a reasonable doubt" of every fact required to constitute the crime charged. In civil cases, the plaintiff must show a defendant is responsible only by a "preponderance of the evidence," or more than 50%. Contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney at SQ Attorneys to assist in fighting for your rights!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Got a D.V. call SQ Attorneys

Domestic violence related crimes in Washington State invariably have a very harsh and very negative impact on the people they are leveled against. Washington citizens charged and/or convicted of domestic violence related crimes can be removed from their home, and have their right to bear firearms taken away; in fact, those folks charged with a domestic violence related crime may even be required to forfeit (give up) their weapons to the government. Additionally, those charged and/or convicted of a domestic violence related allegation will undoubtedly suffer the stigma of being labeled as an “abuser”. This can negatively impact both a person’s personal as well as professional life, and can negatively impact one’s ability to earn a living, even more so than what our economy has already inflicted. A good Seattle domestic violence lawyer can stem the negative impacts of a domestic violence charge and/or conviction.

Many domestic violence charges are the result of situations that have spun out of control during a brief moment in time. Arguments that got heated and the boundaries crossed. What happened may have simply been a misunderstanding between loved ones. Unfortunately, making things right is not as simple as explaining your side of the story and having the charges magically go away. The alleged victim is not a party to the court proceeding; the parties in the criminal suit involve the government against the defendant and often the government does not care if the alleged victim doesn’t want the case to proceed or otherwise move forward. In fact, the government will most likely ask the court to impose a temporary no contact order (NCO) so as to keep the parties separated from one another, whether they want to be or not. This may mean that one of the parties (the victim or the defendant) may find him or herself homeless; it may even cause others in the house to become homeless. Such an awful situation can last weeks, months or even years. This is one of the points of leverage that the prosecution uses to get people to agree to plea deals that may not be a true fit for the circumstances of their case just so they can go home or put their family back together. Another equally harsh tactic prosecutors employ is to overcharge a crime and then offer a plea that does not reflect an accurate picture of what happened.

Restraining orders, the loss of your Second Amendment right to have a gun, not being able to return home, and social stigma are all good reasons to find a qualified Seattle domestic violence attorney who is dedicated to uncovering your side of the story and making sure that it is heard when a domestic violence allegation has been leveled against you.

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. At SQ Attorneys our Seattle domestic violence lawyers have over twenty plus years of criminal trial experience. We believe in systematically investigating the criminal allegations brought against our clients and in bringing each client’s story to light in the courtroom, before prosecutors, judges and the jury. SQ Attorneys works tirelessly to make sure that our client’s stories are told, and that the court sees more than just the fact that they’re criminally charged when they look at them. 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. If accused of a domestic violence related crime, protect your rights – contact SQ Attorneys at (206) 441-0900 or (425) 998-8384. It will be the best decision you make all day.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

DUI Reality

A few commonly asked questions that arise when a person is facing a driving under the influence charge in Washington State are: (1) “If I only had one drink, can I be guilty of DUI?; (2) If my breath test result was below the legal limit (.08), can I be guilty of DUI?; or (3) If there is no breath or blood test result in my case, can I be guilty of DUI? The answer to all three questions may actually be “yes”. The crime of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs in Washington State is generally defined in two ways: (1) having a blood alcohol content of .08 or greater within two hours of driving, or (2) driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

In order for a person to be guilty under the first definition, the person’s blood alcohol content must be determined to be .08 or greater within 2 hours of driving, as determined by a state approved breath test machine; if it can be proven that a person’s blood alcohol content at the time of the incident was .08 or greater, he or she will be convicted of driving under the influence, regardless of the amount of alcohol consumed by the person.

In contrast, the second definition of DUI does not refer to any particular blood alcohol content result; it focuses instead on the behavior of the person. In other words, it focuses on the “totality of the circumstances”. If the person’s driving is impaired by the consumption of alcohol and/or drugs, he or she can be found guilty of driving under the influence. This is often accomplished by a law enforcement officer testifying about the impaired driving that lead him to pull the person over and the person’s ability (or lack thereof) to perform field sobriety tests, and the overall demeanor of the individual throughout the entire DUI processing while on scene and at the police station. There are so many variables that may affect or otherwise impair an individual that they cannot be adequately or effectively outlined in this blog. Lest it be said, a susceptible person may exhibit impaired driving after one or two drinks and therefore be convicted of driving under the influence in the State of Washington.

Because of the significant implications a DUI arrest and/or conviction can have on a person, it is imperative that a person charged with DUI in Washington State retain a qualified Seattle DUI attorney or a qualified Bellevue DUI lawyer in order to best minimize potential legal consequences and protect their rights and interests. The Seattle DUI 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. 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.