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The Washington Criminal Law Blog

Why You Should Never Consent to a Search

Posted Thursday, February 2, 2017 by Lizanne Padula.

alt textAlways Defend Your Rights

Do you know and understand your rights during a police search? Many people don’t fully understand their obligations vs. their rights when being faced with a search by law enforcement. If you do not fully understand your rights, you cannot fully utilize them. Unfortunately, law enforcement can and will take advantage of you if you fail to clearly assert them.

The Fourth Amendment grants us protection against unreasonable search and seizure. But what does this mean? On a practical level, this means law enforcement cannot search you, your home your car, or your belongings without probable cause (i.e. evidence of criminal activity) or your permission.

Although this right is given to you by our Constitution, too many people don’t understand the consequences of waiving this right(s) and consenting to a search. Consenting to a search is a mistake even if you have nothing to hide. To help avoid making that mistake, here are some reasons why you should never consent to a search:

If you consent to a search, you cannot protect yourself in court. If the Government files criminal charges, evidence obtained during a lawful search can be used against you. A search is lawful if you consented.

If police search your home, car or belongings, your property could be confiscated, damaged or misplaced. Giving your consent is like releasing law enforcement from any liability for damage to your belongings if it occurs. You have a right to protect your belongings even if you haven’t committed a crime.

Even if you think you have nothing to hide, whatever police find can be used against you. There is no way to be 100% certain that police will not find any indicators of criminal activity. For example, you might have forgotten something you put in your car, bag or home many years ago. You might not know what someone else put in your car, bag or home. Sure, you could claim unwitting possession but why take the chance. Consenting to a search is always ill advised. Any incriminating evidence that has found its way into your belongings or residence, can and will be used against you. Do not let yourself be convinced that exercising your rights is a sign that you have something to hide. Innocent people get charged with crimes every day. You have no idea what they are looking for or what they will infer by some innocuous item you may possess.

Many people mistakenly consent to a law enforcement search because they are intimidated. Don’t let intimidation tactics get you to give up important rights you should utilize to protect yourself. Be firm and clearly assert your rights by saying “No” to searches. Alternatively, tell the Officer that you cannot consent to any search until you speak to an experienced criminal attorney. Lastly, if you say NO and the police violate your rights by proceeding with the search, do not physically resist. Keep repeating that you are not consenting to the search and if they ask you to sign any paperwork, write that you did not consent to the search. Be sure to call an attorney as soon as possible. An Officer may threaten to get a Search Warrant. Do not let that intimidate you either. If they want to get a Search Warrant, let them. It is easier for your attorney to challenge a Search Warrant than it is for them to reverse your consent.

Basically, consenting to a search is never a good idea. If you have any questions about police searches, you should speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

If you have been recently arrested or are facing criminal charges, the skilled attorneys at Padula & Associates, LLC understand how stressful your situation can be and can help you fight the allegations against you. Our attorneys are experienced in all aspects of criminal defense and can help you face and fight your charges with confidence. For a combined 30 years, the lawyers at Padula & Associates have been serving those in King County, Snohomish County, and Washington State with aggressive criminal defense services. Call us 24/7 at 425-883-3366, email us at info@paduladefense.com or fill out our online free consultation form today.

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Understanding Washington’s Four Degrees of Assault

Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2017 by Lizanne Padula.

alt textAssault Basics

Washington’s RCW 9A.36 discusses the different levels of Assault but fails to define the word “assault”; however, in Washington “assault” means an intentional touching of another person that is harmful or offensive regardless of whether any physical injury results from the touching. This is a general definition of assault. Assault is divided into four degrees, each of which varies in seriousness. You should speak with a criminal defense attorney for specific legal advice about assault, but here is some general information about the four degrees of Washington assault charges:

First Degree Assault

Assault in the first degree is a class A felony and is considered a serious violent offense. First-degree assault is characterized by the intentional attempt to inflict great bodily harm or death. This counts as a strike offense, meaning you can face a significant prison sentence if you are found guilty, especially if this is your third strike offense.

Second Degree Assault

Assault in the second degree can be either a class A or class B felony and is considered a violent offense. Second-degree assault is characterized by intentional assault resulting in substantial bodily harm. This also counts as a strike offense.

Third Degree Assault

Assault in the third degree is a class C felony and not considered a violent offense. Third-degree assault is characterized by an assault with criminal negligence or the assault of individuals performing certain professional duties; for example, assaulting a school bus driver or a police officer.

Fourth Degree Assault

Assault in the fourth degree is sometimes also referred to as simple assault. This is a gross misdemeanor and the least serious of the assault charges. Fourth-degree assault is characterized by harmful or offensive intentional touching. The victim does not have to be injured for the defendant to be charged with fourth-degree assault.

Assault charges are complex, and every case is different. The statutory language provides significantly more detail on Washington assault degrees, and this blog is not meant to be exhaustive. To understand the specific charges you are facing, you need to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney about your case. An attorney can explain your charges and the sentence that can be imposed. An attorney can also help you develop a defense based on the specific facts and circumstances of your case. No matter the degree, assault is a very serious charge and one that should never be faced alone.

If you have been recently arrested or are facing assault charges, the skilled attorneys at Padula & Associates, LLC understand how stressful your situation can be and can help you fight the allegations against you. Our attorneys are experienced in all aspects of criminal defense and can help you face and fight your charges with confidence. For a combined 30 years, the lawyers at Padula & Associates have been serving those in King County, Snohomish County, and Washington State with aggressive criminal defense services. Call us 24/7 at 425-883-3366, email us at info@paduladefense.com or fill out our online free consultation form today.

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How to Vacate a Criminal Conviction

Posted Friday, January 27, 2017 by Lizanne Padula.

alt textCleaning Your Record

A criminal conviction will have a negative impact on your ability to get and hold a job, housing/rental applications and public assistance. It is a mistake to think that once you finish your sentence and pay all your fines you have paid your debt to society and your life can go back to normal. The truth is, as long as you have a criminal record, you will face discrimination for the rest of your life. To alleviate some of the negative impact caused by this conviction, you should clean your record by applying to vacate your conviction.

In Washington, you can vacate certain misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor convictions as well as some felony convictions. The process for vacating a conviction can be complicated and you must first meet several requirements. You should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney before you begin the process; however, here is a brief overview of the steps to help you get started.

Contact the court where your case was filed for information about your case record and the law enforcement agency responsible for the case to obtain information about your criminal record.

With this information, you can now fill out the appropriate forms. At a minimum, you will need to fill out a Motion and Declaration (which asks the court to vacate your conviction), a Notice of Motion (to notify the prosecuting attorney’s office of the scheduled hearing), and an Order on Motion (for the judge to sign and date if your request is granted). The court may require you to submit additional forms depending on your specific conviction. Make several copies so you have you for the prosecutor, the Court, the Judge and yourself. Always keep at least one set for your own records.

Contact the court clerk office of the court that sentenced you in order to schedule a hearing. File the original Motion and Declaration and the Notice of Motion with the court clerk. Then, serve the prosecuting attorney’s office with copies of these documents.

Go to your hearing. If the judge grants your motion, he or she will sign and date the Order on Motion and your job is done. The court will forward the signed Order to the appropriate agencies so the Vacation can be noted on your criminal record. If your motion is denied, the Court will usually outline the reason for the denial and, if possible, you can correct the error and start again. An attorney experienced in this kind of work will avoid mistakes and make sure the Order gets signed the first time.

The information in this blog illustrates the basic procedure for vacating a conviction. You may have some more questions. For information about what convictions are eligible for Vacation, the requirements you must meet and what specifically vacating a conviction will do, speak with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. Going into the process unprepared and uninformed is a waste of time. The Court will not correct any errors you make and they will not overlook any deficiencies in your Motion. An attorney can help you determine your eligibility and assist you with the vacation process.

If you want to vacate a criminal conviction, the skilled attorneys at Padula & Associates, LLC know how difficult the process can be and they will assist you every step of the way. Our attorneys are experienced in all aspects of criminal defense and can help you face and fight your charges with confidence. For a combined 30 years, the lawyers at Padula & Associates have been serving those in King County, Snohomish County, and Washington State with aggressive criminal defense services. Call us 24/7 at 425-883-3366, email us at info@paduladefense.com or fill out our online free consultation form today.

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Top DUI Lawyer Lizanne Padula testifies before the Washington State Senate Law & Justice Committee!

Posted Thursday, July 23, 2015 by Blog Admin.

Lizanne Padula testifies before the Washington State Senate Law & Justice Committee on June 17, 2015, regarding SB6134: Exempting pretrial electronic alcohol monitoring programs from statutory limitations on pretrial supervision costs. Padula testified on behalf of the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

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Criminal Defense Attorney Lizanne Padula Elected President of CJE

Posted Monday, March 30, 2015 by Blog Admin.

The 2015 Annual Meeting of Citizens for Judicial Excellence was held on March 19 in Kirkland. Ted Barr, CJE President for the past eight years, retired and the membership elected Lizanne Padula as CJE President for the next four-year term. View link below:

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Citizens for Judicial Excellence is a political action committee formed to recruit and support highly accomplished, fair, service-oriented attorneys who wish to become judges in the District and Municipal Court of the State of Washington.

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