Friday, November 5, 2010

Commit a Crime, Serve the Time

For those who have never before faced criminal charges, an arrest can be a frightening experience. The stress and anxiety of an arrest may cause you, your family members or friends to overlook important factors, such as the right to remain silent and the right to consult with a lawyer.

During and after arrest, it is imperative for one to remain calm. Not everyone who is arrested is guilty of committing a criminal offense. An arrest is not a conviction. You are innocent until proven guilty. With the help of a Seattle Criminal Lawyer at SQ Attorneys, you can fight your charges.

Arrest
In an arrest, a police officer, state trooper, or sheriff restrains your freedom of movement because of your possible involvement in a criminal offense. The arresting officer may take you into custody, or you may be stopped, verbally or physically, for questioning about a crime.

A warrant for arrest is a written order signed by a judge directing the police to arrest the person named in the warrant. If a judge issues a warrant for your arrest, the police may arrest you in your home or in a public place. At the time of your arrest, the arresting officers should inform you they have a warrant and produce the warrant for your review.

Without your consent or extraordinary circumstances, the police cannot arrest you in your home without a warrant. The police can arrest you without a warrant if they have probable cause to believe that you committed an offense in their presence, or when an individual informs an officer that you have just allegedly committed an offense.

You can be arrested for committing a misdemeanor, which is a lesser crime. Some examples of misdemeanors are: disorderly conduct, driving under the influence of alcohol, driving without a valid driver's license, assault, domestic battery, criminal damage to property, indecent exposure, theft, resisting a police officer, stalking, and deceptive practice. The Seattle Criminal Attorneys at SQ Attorneys can fight any and all misdemeanors and felonies for you.

The police can also arrest you without a warrant if they have probable cause to believe that you have committed a felony, a more serious crime, in their presence, or when an individual informs an officer that you have just allegedly committed an offense. Some examples of felonies are: arson, burglary, forgery, kidnapping, armed robbery, murder, possession of stolen motor vehicle, sexual assault, trespass to residence, obstructing justice, possession or delivery of narcotics, home invasion and unlawful discharge of a firearm. The Washington Criminal Attorneys at SQ Attorneys are trained to handle all criminal cases.

In addition, a citizen, such as a security guard or store owner, may detain you if you have committed, for example, the offense of retail theft, in their presence. In this instance, they must promptly turn you over to the police.

If you are arrested for a felony without a warrant, you are entitled to a prompt hearing (preliminary hearing) to determine whether or not the arresting officer had probable cause (the minimum level of required evidence) to arrest you. However, you may not have an opportunity for a preliminary hearing, where your attorney can cross-examine the arresting officer and challenge the State's evidence. The State is allowed to avoid a preliminary hearing by submitting evidence, in secret, to a grand jury which will return a bill of indictment against you.

Being Detained vs. Being Arrested
A police officer may detain a person, without arresting the person, if the officer has articulable suspicion that the person is engaging in criminal activity. For example, a police officer may request identification and conduct a limited search for weapons (for the officer's safety) if the officer observes a person pacing in front of a closed store late at night. This is called a "Terry Stop." Or, a store owner or employee might detain a person for a short time if they have a strong reason to believe that the person has stolen or was attempting to steal something from the store.

Search
Ordinarily, the police must have search warrant before conducting a search. However, after you have been arrested, the police may search your person and the immediate area around you without a warrant. This is known as a "search incident to arrest." The police may also search, if at the time of arrest, the arresting officer observes contraband. If the arresting officer finds items that are illegal to possess, such as a gun, drugs or drug paraphernalia, at the time of arrest, the arresting officer will retrieve the item(s) and charge you for unlawful possession of the item(s). The arresting officer may also take your wallet, identification, money and other personal items from you at the time of your arrest, for inventory purposes, and maintain the items in a secure place until your items can be returned to you, or used as evidence against you. It is important to verify that all of the items the officer removed from you are inventoried on a written list.

Obtaining Legal Representation
You are entitled to telephone a Seattle Criminal Lawyer, friend or family member to notify them of your arrest. You have the right to consult with a lawyer and have him or her present when the police question you. You should remain silent until your lawyer is present, since any statements you make can be used as evidence against you.

If you cannot afford to hire an attorney, you are entitled to a court-appointed attorney. The Court may appoint a private attorney, a lawyer from a legal aid society, or a public defender. The police are required to advise you of these rights before questioning you. Ordinarily, the arresting officer provides these warnings during the confusion of the arrest. These rights are critical to your defense later on.

Even if you refused a lawyer at the time of arrest, you retain the right to have a lawyer present at any time after your arrest.

If a family member or friend, who has been arrested, calls, remind him or her that they have a right to an attorney, and that they are not required to respond to police questioning until an attorney is present.

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.

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