Sunday, January 30, 2011

Penalties for Drug Offenses

Drug offenses come in many different varieties. Regardless of the offense, penalties may be severe. For even a first offense on a possession with intent to sell, state sentencing guidelines often result in up to 10 years in prison. In the federal system, the penalties may be even more severe. Contact the Seattle Criminal Lawyers at SQ Attorneys to fight your charges to avoid these severe consequences.

Civil penalties may also apply. Police authorities make money by confiscating your property. If you were arrested for drug offenses, property can be seized. This includes cash that the person may have had with them, vehicles they may have been using or even homes where drug offense are alleged to have occurred. The evidence will be held without releasing it so long as there is an ongoing investigation. Often, prosecutors will attempt to forfeit the property permanently. It is often possible to file a lawsuit seeking the return of your property, in which a forfeiture hearing is initiated. Your Seattle Criminal Attorney at SQ Attorneys can help you fight to get your property back.

The collateral consequences of a conviction are also severe. Even a minor drug offense in Washington conviction may result in the inability to work in certain fields. For example, a drug conviction can disqualify a person from ever working in the health care field in almost any capacity. It may also impact employment in many other careers, particularly jobs that require a background check or security clearance. Background checks may also be performed for those seeking to rent a residence. A conviction may result in a denial. Finally, a conviction for a drug offense can have a significant impact on immigration and, in some instance, may result in deportation for non U.S. citizens. The Seattle Criminal Lawyers at SQ Attorneys will consult with an immigration attorney to ensure hat your immigration status is protected

Given the significant impact of drug offenses, consulting with an experienced Criminal Attorney in Seattle is imperative at an early stage so that all defenses can be explored and evidence challenged.

If a law enforcement task force believse they have enough evidence to charge an individual, they will often postpone charges, seeking, instead, to cast a wider net. They do this by trying to convince the suspected individual to provide them names of other drug dealers or users and, often, seeking to engage that suspect in drug purchases. In this way, law enforcement builds a small case into a much larger case by building a using the suspected individual.

Suspected individuals often feel compelled to cooperate. They mistakenly believe that by doing so, they will never be charged. The fact is that the charges may not be filed immediately, even for a year or more, but they will come. Moreover, the use of individuals who face charges of their own often means that they are motivated to come up with some evidence against others, whether it exists or not. In the end, it is not uncommon for the legal authorities to violate constitutional rights to be free from warrantless searches and seizures or Fifth Amendment rights related to custodial interrogation. Often, these issues can be the back bone of a defense case where suppression of evidence or statements is critical. The Washington Criminal Lawyers at SQ Attorneys are experienced to fight these charges.

Possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia can often be challenged arguing that the person charged did not have control of the seized contraband. An officer must also have a reasonable, articulable suspicion of a particular criminal offense in order to stop a person. That is true whether they are walking, standing or driving. Often, when the basis for the stop is explored, the reasonable suspicion is found lacking and the subsequent discovery of drugs suppressed. Another critical factor is whether the officers involved conducted a constitutional search. Except for certain exception, the officers would require consent to search or have a search warrant in hand. Even a search warrant must be supported by probable cause to believe a crime has been committed. If the search is determined to be improper, the drugs seized may be suppressed. Even the weight and purity of the drug may be critical and can be challenged to reduce the drug offense charged.

If you or a loved one is faced with a criminal charge such as a drug offense in Western Washington, you deserve the assistance of a reputable and qualified Seattle criminal attorney who will relentlessly defend your case. You deserve a Seattle criminal defense lawyer who has an intimate understanding of Washington’s criminal laws and the legal issues that could win your case. You deserve a Seattle criminal defense attorney who is not afraid to stand up against the prosecution and aggressively fight for your rights and interests. SQ Attorneys is the right Western Washington law firm for the job. Call for a free initial consultation – (206) 441.0900 (Seattle); (425) 998-8384 (Eastside) – it will be the best decision you make all day.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Commit a Crime and Get Deported

A criminal conviction can have grave consequences on one’s immigration status, and criminal defense attorneys Washington have a legal obligation to advise a criminal defendant of the immigration consequences of a plea agreement or conviction. Immigration consequences are a collateral consequence to the criminal case, rather than direct, but nevertheless, all criminal charges can impact your immigration status. The Seattle Criminal Lawyer at SQ Attorneys is trained to represent you in your criminal charges and minimize the immigration consequences which may result.

The government is pursuing federal offenses of identity theft, Social Security fraud and document fraud, all if which are felonies.

How could these charges impact your immigration status? Most felony convictions, whether in state or federal court, fall under the immigration code definition of aggravated felonies. A Seattle Criminal Attorney at SQ Attorneys can fight your case and seek results which will allow you to be protected. A conviction of a felony could result in removal, deportation, or exclusion. An alien who is convicted, is removed/deported/excluded from the United States, and who is then apprehended while or after new illegal entry will be prosecuted and face a federal prison sentence of up to 20 years.

Identity theft, Social Security fraud and document fraud are all crimes for which, if convicted, an alien may be deported. Criminal convictions may lead to deportation if, the crime is deemed one of moral turpitude or if it is deemed an aggravated felony conviction. Crimes of moral turpitude include, among many other crimes, mail fraud, counterfeiting, forgery and false statements. An aggravated felony may be fraud or deceit offenses, alien smuggling, obstruction of justice and perjury. Furthermore, aliens convicted of aggravated felonies are also subject to special, expedited removal proceedings with minimal due process protections, cannot receive bail or bond when arrested by immigration officials, have almost no means of appealing, and are barred for life from applying for admissions to the United States

What can you do if you, or someone you know, is facing federal criminal charges?

If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges, contact a Seattle criminal defense attorney who is either familiar with the immigration laws or works closely with an immigration attorney to provide sound advice related to the consequences of charges and convictions. While no attorney can guarantee success, if you get an attorney involved at the beginning of the case, your likelihood of success increases greatly.

If you or a loved one is cited or charged with a crime in Western Washington (whether as a primary aggressor or as an accomplice) it is imperative that a Seattle criminal attorney be retained as soon as possible to ensure all personal, professional and financial interests are protected. Seattle criminal defense lawyers Greg Schwesinger and Saad Qadri of SQ Attorneys represent those individuals criminally charged through all phases of their Washington State criminal case. The Seattle criminal attorneys of SQ Attorneys are experienced and proven negotiators that make a world of difference for those accused of committing a crime. SQ Attorneys is a team of seasoned Seattle criminal lawyers that work tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome for each and every client they have the honor of representing. Arrested for committing a crime in Western Washington? Call The Criminal Defense Team of SQ Attorneys at (206) 441-0900 or (425) 998-8384 for an initial free consultation.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Shall I Go To Trial?

In a criminal trial, the prosecution bears the burden of proof. This means that to convict someone of a crime, the prosecution must demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused person committed the alleged crime. If charged with a crime contact the Seattle Criminal Lawyers at SQ Attorneys.

This is an incredibly high burden of proof — and rightfully so. The American justice system strives to avoid punishing people without near-certainty that they have, in fact, committed crimes.

However, not every person accused of a crime ultimately demands that the government meet this standard. Many defendants opt out of trial without requiring the government to prove its case, instead electing to make a plea bargain with the prosecutor. The Seattle Criminal Attorney at SQ Attorneys will analyze each case in great detail and give their opinion on the best course of action.

Some take this approach because the evidence is clear and they presume they will get lighter sentences if they cooperate with prosecutors. Others choose to plead guilty because of the financial costs of mounting defenses; legal fees add up quickly and for some defendants trials aren’t financially viable options. In what many fear is a growing trend though, some defendants avoid trial merely because the potential consequences of trial are too high. This is particularly true for unpopular defendants, such as those accused of defrauding thousands of stockholders or operating major financial scams.

Whether intentionally or not, the ultimate message comes across clearly: those who avail themselves of the constitutionally granted right to a jury trial risk significantly harsher penalties than those who plead guilty. Accordingly, when deciding whether to proceed to trial, guilt or innocence becomes less relevant than predicting the sentiments of a jury. A defendant must weigh the costs and benefits of trial and make an informed decision, which may have little to do with the likelihood that the prosecution can meet its burden of proof. The Washington Criminal Attorneys at SQ Attorneys are trained to best advise you of your options.

Trials will always come with uncertainties but potential criminal penalties should be carefully considered so that innocent people are not prompted to assume guilt for fear of more significant penalties at trial.

If you or a loved one is involved in a situation involving an entry into your home or residence, it is imperative that a Seattle criminal attorney be retained as soon as possible to ensure all personal, professional and financial interests are protected. Seattle criminal lawyers Greg Schwesinger and Saad Qadri of SQ Attorneys represent defendants through all phases of their Washington State criminal case, including the investigatory stage. The Seattle criminal attorneys of SQ Attorneys are experienced and proven negotiators that make a world of difference for those accused of committing a crime. SQ Attorneys is a team of seasoned Seattle criminal lawyers that work tireless to achieve the best possible outcome for each and every client they have the honor of representing. Arrested in Western Washington? Call The Criminal Defense Team of SQ Attorneys at (206) 441-0900 or (425) 998-8384 for an initial free consultation.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

DRUG DUI

DUI cases involving prescription drugs are often dependent on an officer's subjective assessment of the driver's intoxication.

Police officers often initiate traffic stops for minor traffic violations in order to speak with the driver of the vehicle and look for signs of intoxication. When faced with a drug DUI in Washington, contact the Seattle DUI Lawyers at SQ Attorneys.

If an officer detects an odor of alcohol when interviewing the driver, field sobriety and breathalyzer tests are likely forthcoming. Field sobriety tests are often administered incorrectly and the results can be skewed by an officer's preconceived notions about a driver's sobriety. In most cases, the field sobriety tests create further suspicion and the driver is taken to the police station for blood testing or urinalysis. The Washington DUI Attorney at SQ Attorneys, can navigate through the criminal justice system and get the best results for you.

What if an officer suspects a driver of driving under the influence of prescription drugs? Objective indications of drug intoxication are less apparent than some external suggestions of drunkenness. Police and highway patrol do not have well-developed methods for testing a person for Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Oxycodone, Percocet or other opiates. Quantifying the amount of a substance is ultimately crucial to providing legal proof that the suspect was operating an automobile while in an impaired state. A DRE (Drug Recognition Expert) is needed to process the drug DUI in Washington.


As in all criminal matters, DUI prosecutors must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. An objective measure of a driver's blood-alcohol content can be held up against the statutory threshold of intoxication (in Washington, that means .08 percent or above). Other drugs such as marijuana, heroin and cocaine are subject to assessment of metabolites and other quantifiable measures. But so-called drugged driving cases involving prescription drugs are often more dependent on an officer's subjective observations of the driver's condition.

A Seattle DUI attorney job in any intoxicated driving case is to protect the client by holding the prosecution to their burden of proof. One important strategy is to closely review the officer's report of field sobriety test administration and look for indications that the tests were improperly conducted or subject to distractions. Many times, the drugs a driver is accused of abusing were legally prescribed by a physician and were taken for legitimate ailments. Even in cases where the prosecution has objective evidence of a driver's intake of a prescription drug, an attorney may be able to convince the court that a driver's ability was not seriously affected.

If you or a loved one is faced with a DUI charge in Western Washington, you deserve the assistance of a reputable and qualified Seattle DUI attorney who will relentlessly defend your case. You deserve a Seattle DUI lawyer who has an intimate understanding of Washington DUI laws and the legal issues that could win your case. You deserve a Seattle DUI attorney who is not afraid to stand up against the prosecution and aggressively fight for your rights and interests. SQ Attorneys is the right Western Washington DUI law firm for the job. Call for a free initial consultation – (206) 441.0900 (Seattle); (425) 998-8384 (Eastside) – it will be the best decision you make all day.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The ABC's of Criminal Procedure

A misdemeanor is any offense punishable by up to one year in Jail.
Common misdemeanors include: driving under the influence of alcohol/drunk driving (DUI/DWI), shoplifting, domestic violence assault in the fourth degree, driving on a suspended license, disorderly conduct, reckless driving, and/or malicious mischief etc. When faced with a misdemeanor, contact your Seattle Criminal Lawyers at SQ Attorneys immediately.

What happens after I am arrested?

If a person is arrested for a criminal misdemeanor in Washington there are several potential scenarios. The police could hold the accused and bring him to Court for an arraignment or first appearance in District or Superior Court in the morning. The police also set bail and have the defendant post bail in order to be released, or the defendant may be processed, booked and released on his own personal recognizance.

It is usually not advisable for a person to give a statement to the police without an attorney. However, there are exceptions to every rule. It is always important to exercise your right to remain silent and contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney at SQ Attorneys.

Bail and Arraignment

What is a criminal arraignment? Will I be released on bail? Should I take a plea at an arraignment?

The formal arraignment is the court hearing where a criminal defendant either pleads not guilty, or guilty. In most situations the judge will enter a not guilty plea on behalf of the defendant.

It is usually a very bad idea for a person to enter a plea of guilty without an attorney at the arraignment. However, there are exceptions to this rule especially if the person will be held. It is usually very strongly advisable that the defendant say not guilty and retain a Seattle criminal lawyer. If the accused cannot afford a private criminal attorney they should go to the Public Defender's office.

What is personal recognizance?

At the arraignment in Municipal/District Court or Superior Court, the person will typically be released on bail after the person pleads not guilty. An accused should hire a Washington criminal attorney to represent him/ her at an arraignment. For minor misdemeanor offenses, bail is usually personal recognizance which means the person does not have to come up with any actual funds. A defendant released on personal recognizance, has to promise that they will attend court for future hearings and / or trial. The accused does not actually pay any money when released on PR. However, If the person fails to attend court in the future the accused will owe a bail amount after bail is set by a judge.

What is cash bail?

If the Rhode Island District Court judge orders cash bail then the accused must pay that amount in cash to be released. If it is cash bail than the defendant cannot post property.

What is bail with surety?

If the person is repeat criminal offender, the allegations are particularly bad, the person has a history of not attending court or for other reasons, then the court could set bail with surety. This means that the person only has to pay 10 percent of that amount or post property valued at full amount. If a person can not come up with ten percent then they can hire a bail bondsman who will post that amount for a fee. a Bail bondsman's fee is usually reasonable. If the person attends all Court dates then they will get that money back at the end of the case.

What is the most advisable plea at an arraignment and what happens next?

At the arraignment, A person should almost always say not guilty and hire a Seattle criminal attorney. If a person cannot afford a lawyer then the person should go to the Public Defender. After the arraignment the matter will be set for a pretrial conference a couple of weeks later. In some very limited circumstances a person can work out a plea deal at the arraignment. It is usually a very bad idea for a person to enter into a plea agreement without an attorney.

Pre Trial Conference

What happens at the pretrial conference?

At the pretrial conference a person can change their plea from not guilty to guilty if they agree to the sentence offered by the prosecutor after meeting with the prosecutor and or the judge and after finding out what the prosecutor is offering for a a sentence. A defendant can negotiate with the prosecutor through their lawyer. If a plea agreement cannot be worked out at the pretrial conferences the matter will be set for trial. The matter also could be scheduled for motions prior to the trial if motions are requested.

A person should never change their plea from not guilty to guilty without a plea deal from the prosecutor.

Pleas

What types of pleas are there in Washington?

In Washington, a defendant can enter one of four pleas: guilty, not guilty, or an "alford plea".

Guilty and Not Guilty Pleas

The pleas of guilty and not guilty are obvious. If the plea is not guilty then the matter will be scheduled for a trial on the merits in which the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person is guilty of the alleged offense. The person will be presumed innocent and it is the prosecutions burden to prove that the person is guilty. Usually, it is a bad idea to take a guilty plea! Guilty pleas or a finding of guilt after a trial is always a criminal conviction in Wahington.

Alford Pleas

Alford Pleas are strongly disfavored by judges in Washington and are difficult to get. Alford pleas derive from a United States Supreme Court case. In an Alford plea, a defendant will admit that the state has sufficient evidence to convict him or her if the case went to trial but will not admit to anything.

Guilty Finding after Trial

If the defendant is found guilty after trial the sentence will constitute a conviction. If a person is found guilty at trial in district court they can appeal de novo (of new) to the Superior Court and the conviction will be erased and the case will essentially start all over again in the Superior Court.

Obviously, the defendants best result is either a dismissal by the prosecution or an acquittal. Contact the Seattle Criminal Attorneys at SQ Attorneys to get your case dismissed!

If you or a loved one is cited for committing a crime such as resisting arrest 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.