Sunday, March 27, 2011

Immigration Consequences

A criminal conviction can have grave consequences on one’s immigration status, and criminal defense attorneys in 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. The 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, March 20, 2011

The Truth About the Breath Test!

Drivers charged with DUI in Washington should understand that a Breathalyzer — a breath-alcohol chemical test — is one of several pieces of evidence that can be used in a court of law. Passing a Breathalyzer does not guarantee a dismissal or charges not being filed, nor does failing such a test guarantee conviction. If charged with a DUI contact you Seattle DUI Lawyers at SQ Attorneys immediately.

Research by the National Highway Traffic Administration has identified twenty symptoms that may indicate a person is driving while intoxicated. These driving patterns give a police officer probable cause to stop a vehicle and further investigate for DUI in Washington. Sworn testimony from an arresting officer, in addition to video footage of the vehicle prior to the stop, may not be compelling evidence by itself, but may serve as the basis for a case.

Statements from the driver are also admissible evidence. When asked how many drinks you've consumed, unless you can honestly say you've had nothing, it is typically wise to politely decline to answer questions until you've spoken to an attorney. Admitting to having any number of drinks will be included in the police report, and will be used against you in court. Furthermore, your attitude will be noted along with other physical symptoms of intoxication; if you are excessively hostile or jovial, your demeanor will weigh against you in court, so it is important to be as professional with the police as possible. The Seattle DUI Lawyers at SQ Attorneys will fight hard for you to protect your rights.

When asked to participate in a Breathalyzer test, you are generally required to comply. Refusing to submit to any chemical test — Breathalyzer or blood test — may be permitted by law, but will typically be admitted in court as "consciousness of guilt." Failing a Breathalyzer with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher will result in immediate arrest; in WA, your license may get suspended upon a civil administrative action. Furthermore, Washington State DUI laws typically allow a driver to be charged with DUI for a BAC between .05 and .07.

The Breathalyzer measures alcohol vapor in the driver's breath, and is the most commonly administered chemical test for DUI suspects. The Breathalyzer multiplies the chemical trace by roughly 2,100 to determine BAC. The equipment has several drawbacks, however, so the results are not generally enough to convict without other evidence supporting intoxication.

A Breathalyzer presumes the entire volume of air being measured is from the driver's lungs. It is therefore susceptible to falsely elevated measurements from any alcohol trapped in the mouth or esophagus. Alcohol may be retained in dental work, such as bridges or caps, and may remain in the esophagus after vomiting or due to any sort of gastric reflux disorder. Mouthwash, breath mints and other products may also contain alcohol and cause an erroneous Breathalyzer result. The Washington DUI Lawyers at SQ Attorneys are trained to investigate all these issues.

It is important to note that alcohol is not instantaneously absorbed into the blood, so Breathalyzer results can sometimes be refuted with a "rising BAC" defense. A test that is delayed up to an hour after the initial stop may indicate intoxication, even though the alcohol had not been sufficiently absorbed at the time of driving to cause impairment. This argument works both ways, depending on the delay between the driver's last drink and the administration of the test; the driver must be proven intoxicated while actually driving.

Police may administer a variety of field sobriety tests (FST), often recorded on video, to further support DUI charges. These tests are typically administered after an officer has decided to make the arrest for the sole purpose of building a more solid case when the driver fails. This supporting evidence may be used to counter claims that a Breathalyzer was inaccurate due to improperly calibrated equipment or other anomalies. Field sobriety tests are intended to highlight clear physiological or mental impairment, but they can be misleading if the driver has other disabilities that may interfere with passing the tests. The Seattle DUI Attorneys at SQ Attorneys have been successful in suppressing breath tests all across Washington state.

Furthermore, a police officer is not a medical professional, and is therefore not qualified to expertly judge certain physical responses. For example, the horizontal gaze nystagmus test — requiring a driver to visually follow a pencil, finger or penlight — is often inadmissible in court because an officer cannot reasonably determine nystagmus, an abnormal eye jerking or oscillation, or its angle of onset. This is the sort of evidence — combined with driving footage and self-incriminating testimony — that may lead to conviction despite a passing Breathalyzer result.

You may have the right to request an independent blood test to determine BAC. A blood test is the most reliable measurement of blood alcohol content, and the results may be used to defend against Breathalyzer results that might otherwise lead to conviction. While you may be required to cover the cost of an independent test, it is often worth the expense to provide a strong DUI defense in Washington.

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 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 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, March 13, 2011

Sex Offense Sex Registration!

Over the last several years, there have been efforts at the state and federal levels to extend the penalties incurred by those convicted of certain sex offenses, especially offenses against minors. One major post-release penalty incurred by many convicted sex offenders is mandatory inclusion on a sex offender registry. If charged with a sex offense, contact your Seattle Criminal Lawyers at SQ Attorneys immediately.

After the federal government passed the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, the requirements for sex offender registration became more stringent. Among other things, the Adam Walsh Act created a national sex offender registry and required the states to adopt minimum federal standards with regards to how long a sex offender must stay on the registry, when they must submit to an in-person verification, and which information must be made available to the public in the state registry. Each sex offense has a different requirement for the amount of years one must register for, ranging from 10 years up to a lifetime. The Seattle Criminal Lawyer at SQ Attorneys can assist you in navigating through the complexities of a sex offense charge.

Wsahington law requires anyone with a reportable conviction for committing an offense against a minor or a sexually violent offense to register as a sex offender with the state registry. Examples of some of these offenses include:
• Kidnapping
• First and second degree rape
• First and second degree sexual offense
• Sexual assault
• Incest
• Felony indecent exposure
• First, second and third degree sexual exploitation of a minor
• Prostitution of a minor
• Voyeurism
• Communicating with a minor for immoral purposes

Washington residents with a reportable conviction for attempt, aiding and abetting, or conspiracy and solicitation of a crime against a minor or a sexually violent crime also must register.

If not incarcerated for their offense, those who are required to register must do so immediately. Otherwise, they must register within three days after being released from a correctional institution. The registration must occur in-person at the sheriff's office in the county where the offender lives. Contact the Seattle Criminal Attorneys at SQ Attorneys for more information on the amount of time given to register.

The length of time a registrant must remain on the state sex offender registry depends on the registrant's classification and the actual conviction. The current registrant classifications include:

• Offender: the lowest classification reserved for those not classified as a sexually violent predator, recidivist or aggravated offender. Offenders are required to register for 15 years but may petition to have their names removed after 10 years.

• Sexually violent predator: those who have been convicted of a sexually violent offense and who have been found to suffer from a mental abnormality or personality disorder that makes it likely they will engage in sexually violent acts against others. Specific statutory procedures must be followed to classify someone as a sexually violent predator, including a hearing with written findings. Requires lifetime registration.

• Recidivist: those who have received their second or subsequent reportable conviction for an offense requiring sex offender registration. Requires lifetime registration.

• Aggravated offender: those who have been convicted of an aggravated offense. "Aggravated offenses" include engaging in a sex act involving vaginal, anal or oral penetration with a victim through the use of force or threat of serious violence, regardless of the victim's age; and engaging in a sex act involving vaginal, anal or oral penetration with a victim under 12 years old. Requires lifetime registration.

The type of information that must be provided by a particular registrant also is dependent on their sex offender classification. All offenders must provide the following information:

• Name and aliases
• Birthday
• Sex and race
• Height and weight
• Eye and hair color
• Driver's license number
• Home address
• Offense convicted of, date of conviction and sentence received
• Current photograph and fingerprints
• Name and address of any educational institutions registrant is attending or expects to attend
• Name and address of any higher educational institution registrant is employed at or expected to be employed at
• Any on-line identifiers used by the registrant
Sexually violent predators, recidivists and aggravated offenders also must provide:
• Identifying factors
• Offense history
• Documentation of any treatment received for mental abnormalities or personality disorders

Removing a Name from the Registry

Under current state law, only those who are classified as registrants are given an opportunity to have their information removed from the sex offender registry. Otherwise, to have a name removed from the registry, the conviction requiring registration must be reversed, vacated or set aside or the registrant must be granted a pardon of innocence.

Offenders do not become eligible to have their information removed until they have been on the registry for a minimum of 10 years. After this period of time, so long as the offender has not received another conviction for an offense requiring registration, the offender then may petition the superior court to have his or her registration terminated.

The court, however, is under no obligation to grant the offender's petition. Rather, the court will consider three criteria in determining whether or not to authorize the requested termination:
• The registrant must be able to prove that he or she has not been arrested for any crime that would require registration
• The removal must be in compliance with any applicable federal law
• The court must be satisfied that the registrant is not a current or potential threat to public safety

In any request to terminate sex offender registration, the prosecutors office is given notice and an opportunity to challenge the removal. This includes presenting evidence as to why the registrant should be required to register for the full length of time.

If you or a loved one is faced with being charged with a sex offense in Western Washington, you deserve nothing less than the very best representation from a reputable and qualified Seattle criminal attorney who will relentlessly defend your case. You deserve a Seattle criminal lawyer who has an intimate understanding of not only Washington’s criminal laws, but also the legal issues that could win your case. You deserve a Seattle criminal defense lawyer 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 criminal 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.

Monday, March 7, 2011

DUI and the Legal Implications of Traveling to Canada

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.