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Field Sobriety Tests Are Voluntary, Washington DUI Defense

Posted Friday, September 15, 2017 by Lizanne Padula.

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If you are pulled over on suspicion of Driving Under the Influence (DUI), the police officer may ask you to submit to a Field Sobriety Test (FST). In Washington State you are under no obligation to submit to a FST.

Field Sobriety Tests Are Voluntary

FST are typically administered roadside and require the driver to perform a number of physical tasks. If an officer asks you to exit your vehicle and complete a Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST), it is critical that you know your rights. Washington State law does not require you to submit to SFSTs.

A police officer may lead you to believe that you must take the SFSTs, but you are under no legal obligation to do so. In general, you can and should politely refuse to take any FST. These tests are not measured by an objective standard and typically will only serve to harm your DUI defense.

Supposedly FSTs are to help the officer determine whether or not a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol; however, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) laboratory research indicates that only three of the tests “when administered in a standardized manner” are highly accurate for distinguishing blood alcohol content (BAC) at or above the legal limit. These three FST are the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), Walk and Turn (WAT), and One Leg Stand (OLS). (NHTSA DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing, March 2013 Edition, pg. 211).

First, SFST are not always administered in a standardized manner. Second, SFST results are subjectively evaluated by non-medically trained officers. In most cases the results of SFSTs will serve to bolster the Prosecution’s case against you and harm your ability to get a DUI charge reduced to a lesser charge. Therefore, in general it is in your best interest to politely refuse to submit to a SFST.

Submitting to A Breath Test Is Mandatory

While Field Sobriety Tests are strictly voluntary, breath tests are not. In Washington State you are required to submit to a breath test “for the purpose of determining the alcohol concentration” of your breath if the arresting officer has “reasonable grounds to believe the person had been driving or was in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug[.]” (RCW 46.20.308).

The punishment for refusing to submit to the breath test is at a minimum license suspension for at least one year. (RCW 46.20.308(2)(a)).

Hiring An Experienced Washington DUI Defense Attorney

If you submitted to SFSTs while being arrested for DUI, we can help. While the results of the Field Sobriety Tests may give the Prosecution evidence against you, our experienced DUI defense attorneys know how to pinpoint the weaknesses in the Prosecution’s case against you. Not every DUI can be beat, but we are able to eliminate or reduce most of them. Most of the DUI cases we handle at Padula & Associates, LLC are reduced to lesser charges or dismissed entirely.

Hiring an experienced DUI defense attorney can help you get the best possible outcome in your case. Come meet with us for a free consultation to explore how we can help you. Our attorneys have outstanding reputations. Lizanne Padula is a tireless negotiator and a tenacious litigator. Ms. Padula was appointed to serve as a Judge Pro-Tem in Snohomish County in May of 2017. She also serves as the Board President for Citizens for Judicial Excellence (CJE), teaches Ethics as part of the Continuing Legal Education credits (CLEs) offered by CJE, and teaches CLEs for the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (WACDL).

Padula & Associates, LLC will fiercely advocate on your behalf. For more than 20 years we have proudly defended the rights of people in King County, Snohomish County, and Washington State.

Call us 24/7 at 425-883-3366 of fill out this simple web form to schedule a free consultation with an experienced DUI defense attorney.

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Unlawful Possession Charges - What You Need to Know in Washington State

Posted Wednesday, September 13, 2017 by Lizanne Padula.

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The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution greats the right to bear arms, and reads in part: “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” However, firearm possession, carry, and display have legal restrictions and limitations.

Gun related charges in Washington State typically involve violations of Revised Code of Washington Title 9.41 regarding Unlawful Possession of Firearms (RCW 9.41.040). If you are found with a weapon that is not registered to you, or if another individual has left a firearm with you, or if you are in possession of an illegal type of firearm, or if you are otherwise in violation of firearm possession laws, you will likely face charges for unlawful possession of a firearm.

Notable Restrictions on Firearm Possession

A firearm may not be possessed by a convicted felon or a person previously convicted of an act of domestic violence. Beyond restrictions based on previous offenses, unlawful possession is determined by the manner or location of the possession. Each firearm possessed unlawfully is considered a separate criminal offense and can be charged as such. In Washington State there are two types of unlawful possession of a firearm: first degree and second degree.

Unlawful Possession of a Firearm in the First Degree

A person previously convicted of certain crimes is prohibited from lawful possession of a firearm. These crimes include: felonies, acts of domestic violence, any crime of violence, leading organized crime, child molestation in the second degree, promoting prostitution in the first degree, rape in the third degree, sexual exploitation, and certain other crimes. (RCW 9.41.040)

Unlawful possession of a firearm in the first degree is a class B felony punishable by imprisonment for up to ten years, by a fine of up to $20,000, or a combination of both (RCW 9A.20.021(1)(b)).

Unlawful Possession of a Firearm in the Second Degree

A person commits unlawful possession of a firearm in the second degree if he or she possesses a firearm and was previously convicted of certain crimes, including assault in the fourth degree, stalking, reckless endangerment, or violation of a protection order or no-contact order, or if he or she possessed a firearm “during any period of time that the person is subject to a court order” (RCW 9.41.040).

Unlawful possession of a firearm in the second degree is a class C felony punishable by imprisonment for up to five years, by a fine of up to $10,000, or a combination of both (RCW 9A.20.021(1)(c)).

Law Enforcement & Prosecutors Sometimes Misunderstand Unlawful Possession Law

It is not uncommon for law enforcement officers or even Prosecutors to misunderstand or misread the law, and attempt prosecution of an action that is actually lawful. Surprisingly, we have seen this many times. In these situations Padula & Associates, LLC has been able to intervene with the Prosecution and negotiate a complete dismissal of the unlawful possession charges. Alternatively, we have successfully requested a dismissal of the charges from the Court. Unfortunately, the process of doing either of these is often slow, inconvenient, and costly.

Defending Against Unlawful Possession or Other Firearm Related Charges

Padula & Associates, LLP has received many referrals from the Second Amendment Foundation and other firearm advocacy organizations. Lizanne Padula is a strong advocate for gun rights. She has spoken at an Open Carry Rally in Olympia and at other firearm advocacy events. The skilled attorneys at Padula & Associates, LLP have achieved dismissals or reductions in hundreds of firearm related cases.

Were you arrested for unlawful possession of a firearm? The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Padula & Associates, LLC know how important it is to defend your rights and can help you fight these charges in court. Our attorneys are well-versed in all aspects of criminal defense, and they will help you take on allegations of unlawful possession with confidence. For more than 20 years, Padula & Associates, LLC has been proudly serving those in King County, Snohomish County, and Washington State .

We answer our phones 24/7 and offer free consultations. Call us 24/7 at 425-883-3366 or fill out our simple web form to schedule your free consultation today.

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Fruit of the Poisonous Tree: Getting Evidence Suppressed at Trial

Posted Tuesday, September 12, 2017 by Lizanne Padula.

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The Rules of Evidence dictate what can and cannot be admitted at trial. Criminal defendants have the right to a fair trial, among other Constitutionally protected rights, that sometimes require that the Prosecution be prohibited from introducing certain evidence at trial. The Exclusionary Rule generally prevents the State from using evidence gathered in violation of the United States Constitution.

Criminal defense attorneys work diligently to Motion the Court to get evidence suppressed at or before trial so that the jury never sees it. When we get a key piece of evidence in the Prosecution’s case suppressed, this gives us leverage to have the charges reduced, dismissed, or to negotiate a favorable plea agreement.

Fruit of the Poisonous Tree

Fruit of the Poisonous Tree is a legal doctrine that makes illegally obtained evidence inadmissible in court. The idea behind the metaphor is that if the “tree” (how the evidence was obtained) is tainted, so too is the “fruit” (the evidence itself). Fruit of the Poisonous Tree is an extension of the Exclusionary Rule. Both doctrines have three important exceptions. Evidence will not be excluded from court if:

• The evidence was discovered from a source independent of the illegal activity.

• Discovery of the evidence was inevitable.

• Or, there is a only a tenuous link between the illegal activity and the discovery of the evidence.

Also, illegally obtained evidence will not be excluded if it falls under the good faith exception to the Exclusionary Rule. The good faith exception applies when a law enforcement officer had a good faith belief that they were acting in accordance with the law. For example, if the officer was relying on a search warrant, but the warrant was later found to be legally defective, the illegally seized evidence will be admissible under the good faith exception.

In the absence one of the three listed exceptions above, or the good faith exception, illegally obtained evidence can be suppressed at trial.

As you can see, the Rules of Evidence are complicated. If you have been charged with a crime it is imperative that you seek the counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. Your attorney will protect your rights, be your advocate, and mount a strong defense against the Prosecution’s case against you.

The skilled attorneys at Padula & Associates, LLC can defend your rights and help you fight for a just resolution. We proudly serve those in King County, Snohomish County, Pierce County, Lewis County, and Washington State.

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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The Cost of Defending a DUI, Washington State

Posted Thursday, September 7, 2017 by Lizanne Padula.

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An arrests for DUI can wreak havoc on your life and on your bank account. We do not mislead our clients about the cost of defending a DUI in Washington State. Also, there are fees beyond just attorneys fees that are associated with a DUI case and conviction. The truth is that the long-term consequences of having a DUI on your record are immense. So, there is compelling reasons to do everything possible to properly defense yourself against DUI charges, including trying to get the charges dropped or reduced.

The Cost of Defending a DUI

Depending on the specifics of your case, an experienced DUI defense attorney is probably going to cost $5,000 to $12,000. Beyond attorneys fees, the following are other expenses typically associated with DUI charges:

• Court fees/fines (if convicted): $500 to $2,500 (possibly more depending on what crime you are convicted of).

• Victim Impact Panel: $25.00 to $50.00.

• Probation (if ordered): $50.00/month.

• Mandatory Alcohol Evaluation: $150.00 to $300.00

Additionally, depending on the outcome of the Alcohol Evaluation:

• Course in an approved Alcohol & Drug Information School (this is the lowest level of treatment for people diagnosed with no significant problem (NSP) with alcohol): $50.00 to $150.00.

• 3 to 12 months of treatment for an alcohol abuse diagnosis (this is applicable to someone who is not an addict but is misusing alcohol): several hundred dollars.

• More intensive treatment in an approved substance use disorder treatment program (this is a much higher level of treatment and is for people diagnosed with an addiction issue): several hundred to thousands of dollars.

We encourage you to consider that in five or ten years you may not remember the costs, but you will remember if you achieved a favorable result in your case. If you can, focus on hiring an attorney who can achieve the results you need. Every case is different and an experienced DUI defense attorney will be able to evaluate the evidence against you and pinpoint the weaknesses in the Prosecution’s case that can be leveraged in negotiations. In fact, most of the DUI cases we handle at Padula & Associates, LLC are reduced to lesser charges or dismissed entirely.

If you are facing charges for a DUI, the skilled attorneys at Padula & Associates, LLC will provide you with tenacious defense in court. Our attorneys are experienced in all aspects of criminal defense and will help you fight your charges with confidence. For more than 20 years, Padula & Associates, LLC has been serving the people of King County, Snohomish County, and throughout Washington State with aggressive criminal defense services.

Come meet with us for a free consultation. 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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I Was Arrested, But No Criminal Charges Were Filed Against Me - Now What

Posted Tuesday, September 5, 2017 by Lizanne Padula.

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If you were arrested and you were released without criminal charges being filed against you, do not assume your ordeal is over and that charges will never be filed.

When Criminal Charges Have Not Yet Been Filed

After an arrest, some jurisdictions will file criminal charges quickly - sometimes prior to release or within days of the arrest. However, some jurisdictions wait to file formal charges. Many counties (especially King County) take months to file charges. Understand that the delay may be more indicative of an over-worked, under-staffed Prosecutor’s office than a decision not to file charges against you.

Consult with A Criminal Defense Attorney Before Charges Are Filed

After an arrest, it is a good idea to consult with an attorney right away. This is true even if formal charges have not yet been filed.

First, a criminal defense attorney knows what steps to take to preserve evidence you may need when the time comes to defend yourself. For example, videos are often destroyed after a month or two, or witnesses may move away or forget what happened. Time can erase evidence that you and your attorney will need to successfully defend you. Second, a criminal defense attorney can continually monitor your case and can find out immediately when charges are filed and what those charges are. Mounting a strong defense from the start helps ensure the best possible outcome in your case.

Just because criminal charges have not been filed right away does not mean they cannot file them in the future.

Limitations On When The State Can Bring Criminal Charges

Depending on the type of crime being charged, the prosecuting attorney’s office may or may not have a limitation on when it can bring criminal charges. For example, the State has two years to bring charges for a gross misdemeanor (RCW 9A.04.080(1)(i)). Alternatively, there are a number of crimes that the State may prosecute at anytime, including murder, homicide by abuse, arson if a death results, vehicular homicide, and vehicular assault if a death results (RCW 9A.04.080(1)(a)).

A delay in formal charges being filed against you does not indicate that an arrest or investigation has gone away or been forgotten.

The skilled criminal defense attorneys at Padula & Associates, LLC offer a free consultation. Use this consultation to get a free evaluation of what you should do right now. Afterwards, you may decide to act now and hire us or you may decide to wait. A meeting with us will make sure you are basing your decision on a solid analysis of the law and the facts, and not on fear or a desire to forget the experience ever happened.

We answer the phone 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Call us 24/7 at 425-883-3366, email us at info@paduladefense.com, or fill out our online free consultation form today.

For over 20 years, Padula & Associates, LLC has been serving the people of King County, Snohomish County, Pierce County, Lewis County, and throughout Washington State with aggressive criminal defense services.

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