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The Washington Criminal Law Blog

Just Been Arrested? Why You Need to Call an Attorney ASAP

Posted Tuesday, March 28, 2017 by Lizanne Padula.

alt textFirst Find Help

You have the right to counsel when facing criminal charges or when being interrogated or under investigation. This is a very important right because it protects you from self-incrimination. Unfortunately, many people fail to exercise this right and suffer the consequences later.

Your right to an attorney is important for several reasons. An attorney can:

Advise you of all your rights so you can exercise them properly at the right time

Tell you what to do and not do to protect yourself from self-incrimination

Inform you about what your charges mean, and

Advise you of what the potential consequences of your charges are

You should call an attorney as soon as you can after an arrest because you should thoroughly understand your rights and what is at stake before you speak to anyone. Invoke your right to speak with an attorney before being interrogated, even if you aren’t directly informed of this right. Keep in mind that law enforcement is permitted to mislead you during an investigation. They may tell you they have a rock solid case against you and convince you to fess up when, in reality, they had a very weak case and your confession is what made it a strong case against you! That is just one of the reasons you need the advice of an attorney. They have gone through this process before and they are trained to handle it. You have never been through this and do not have the training.

Waiting to call an attorney until right before your arraignment is a never a wise idea. Even though the arraignment is going to be your first court appearance you will still be asked to make some important decisions. Appearing at your arraignment and answering those questions before speaking with an attorney can leave you with regret. Having an experienced attorney by your side will make sure that everything is handled properly with no need for regrets. Many people unwisely plead guilty thinking they have no chance at a fight, but, tragically, sometimes they are very wrong. Not all defendants are convicted. The prosecutor has to prove your guilt, and if he or she does not have enough evidence to do this, the case will be reduced or dismissed. Let the case against unfold a bit, have an attorney help you evaluate the case and give yourself time to do a complete investigation of the conclusions drawn by the Police.

Gathering Information Early On

If involved early enough, an attorney can work to gather and preserve valuable pieces of evidence that could be instrumental in your defense. He or she can start by requesting a copy of the police report. In this report will be information about the incident and the allegations against you. An attorney can use this information to initiate their own investigation and prepare a strategic defense for you. An experienced attorney will be proficient at identifying weaknesses in the case that could lead to the charges being reduced or dropped. Before you are in receipt of all the information an attorney can gather for you, you should never provide a statement or answer any questions.

Beyond these strategic advantages, an attorney can give you peace of mind knowing your rights will be defended. This is perhaps the most calming benefit of hiring an attorney. Facing criminal charges is stressful, and you could say the wrong thing without even knowing it was the wrong thing to say. You might have a good chance of fighting your charges. Accordingly, if you are arrested, make sure calling a Washington criminal defense attorney is the first step you take in your case.

Were you recently arrested? The attorneys at Padula & Associates, LLC know how stressful this experience can be and can help you understand your rights. Our attorneys are experienced in DUI and criminal defense and can help you face your charges with confidence while defending your rights. For 10 years Padula & Associates has been serving those in King County, Snohomish County, and surrounding areas with aggressive criminal defense services for DUIs, domestic violence, and other criminal charges. Call us 24/7 at 425-883-3366, email us at info@paduladefense.com or fill out our free consultation form today.

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Your Rights When Being Arrested

Posted Thursday, March 23, 2017 by Lizanne Padula.

alt textRights You Can Exercise

Being arrested can feel like your privacy and your freedom is being violated. Though you are being taken in custody by the authorities, you still have rights. Most people are familiar with the right to remain silent. This is a protected right under the Fifth Amendment. But your rights when being arrested go beyond this right, and even that right only applies to certain situations. Understanding your rights when being arrested is very important because without your knowledge of the applicable rights they can be easily violated. Here are a few things you should know about your rights when being arrested:

The right to remain silent is part of a set of rights called the Miranda rights. Miranda rights give you the right to:

Remain silent

Be informed that anything you say can be held against you at trial

Speak with a lawyer before being interrogated/questioned by law enforcement.

Have a public defender appointed to you if you cannot afford a private lawyer

Contrary to popular belief, the arresting officer does not have to read you your Miranda rights when arresting you. These rights are only applicable if you are being interrogated (asked questions). Therefore, an officer only has to read you these rights when arresting you if he or she is going to ask you questions once you are in custody.

These rights are very important. They are constitutionally protected for a good reason. These rights ensure fair treatment of criminal defendants and protect them from self-incrimination. You are innocent until proven guilty, and, by exercising these rights, you can make sure you do not provide any information that can help the prosecution’s argument.

You also have the right to freedom from unreasonable search and seizure by the police, a right protected under the Fourth Amendment. This means the police can only arrest (an arrest is a seizure) you if they have probable cause to do so. Likewise, law enforcement is limited in their ability to search you or your property. Most of the time, law enforcement needs a warrant issued by a Judge or your consent to perform a search. However, there are exceptions. For example, they can search your person after an arrest to make sure you do not have a weapon or contraband that would be taken into the jail. They can search your car to inventory your possessions before your car is impounded. However, they can only search unlocked areas. A locked glove compartment is usually a safe place and cannot be searched without a warrant. Generally speaking, it is never a good idea to consent to a search. Make them get the warrant! If you do consent, remember you can limit the scope of the search and terminate the search at any time.

Speak with an experienced Washington criminal defense attorney if you have been arrested and think your rights were violated. If they were, you can assert your rights by asking the judge to “throw out” (i.e. disregard/exclude) any evidence that you may have provided during interrogation. If you were not read your rights, information obtained during interrogation is inadmissible as evidence at trial. An attorney can help you make sure all unlawfully obtained evidence is thrown out.

Were you recently arrested? The attorneys at Padula & Associates, LLC know how stressful this experience can be and can help you understand your rights. Our attorneys are experienced in DUI and criminal defense and can help you face your charges with confidence while defending your rights. For 10 years Padula & Associates has been serving those in King County, Snohomish County, and surrounding areas with aggressive criminal defense services for DUIs, domestic violence, and other criminal charges. Call us 24/7 at 425-883-3366, email us at info@paduladefense.com or fill out our free consultation form today.

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The Science of Marijuana DUI Law

Posted Tuesday, March 21, 2017 by Lizanne Padula.

alt textWhat’s the Legal Limit?

The media has done a good job of inflating the panic regarding marijuana DUIs in Washington State. This is a controversial subject because proving someone was under the influence of marijuana while driving is not as exact a science as proving someone had a BAC of .08%. Regardless of the scientific measures, driving under the influence of any drug or alcohol, marijuana included, is unlawful and can result in DUI charges and a conviction. Nevertheless, proving someone was driving while under the influence of marijuana is not as cut and dry as the media or authorities would have you believe. To better understand how someone is convicted of a marijuana DUI, let’s look at the science:

Washington law utilizes an impairment standard of 5.0 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood within 2 hours of driving. This is called the per se limit. This standard has been fought on many sides because THC does not leave one’s blood as predictably or readily as alcohol does. And, for regular users, their blood THC level may not drop below an active THC level even if they did not recently consume marijuana. This means it is possible for someone to be convicted of driving under the influence even if he or she had not smoked or consumed THC for a lengthy period prior to driving. The 5.0 nanogram standard was even found to be unfounded by the AAA. There is also conflicting science on what a 5.0 nanogram translates into in terms of level of impairment. State toxicologists still have difficulty in attributing impairment to a particular THC blood level. Unfortunately, this is the legal standard in Washington.

A suspect might also undergo at 12-step evaluation by a drug recognition expert (DRE). The DRE will look for signs to attempt to classify what drug the driver may have consumed, including THC; in addition, the DRE will perform a protocol to make observations about the driver’s coordination, eyes, and even their vitals. The results of such an evaluation in conjunction with a lawful blood draw may be enough to convict the driver of DUI—even if his or her THC level is less than the 5.0 nanogram legal limit.

If you are facing DUI charges for driving under the influence of marijuana, speak with an attorney as soon as possible. A skilled Washington criminal defense attorney who has experience in DUI defense can advise you of your rights and help you defend them in court. You should not be unfairly convicted because of unfounded science, but you need to understand how the legal standard applies to your case. Having a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney assist you with your case and taking on both the science and the officer’s observations and conclusions that led to your arrest for DUI will give you the best chance of fighting your charges.

Have you been arrested for a DUI? The attorneys at Padula & Associates, LLC understand your concerns and can help you fight your charges and defend your rights. Our attorneys are experienced in DUI and criminal defense and can help you take on DUI allegations with confidence. For 10 years Padula & Associates has been serving those in King County, Snohomish County, and surrounding areas with aggressive criminal defense services for DUIs, domestic violence, and other criminal charges. Call us 24/7 at 425-883-3366, email us at info@paduladefense.com or fill out our free consultation form today.

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Domestic Violence Convictions and Gun Rights

Posted Thursday, March 16, 2017 by Lizanne Padula.

alt textA Valuable Right

Under federal law, all those convicted of felonies or misdemeanors involving domestic violence are prohibited from possessing firearms. Losing your gun rights is one of the harshest and most permanent penalties incurred from a domestic violence conviction. You may lose these rights for life, even after you’ve paid your debt to society.

While it may seem that a domestic violence conviction should not affect a Constitutionally given right, there are some statistics that support the Court’s concern:

Women who are victims of domestic violence are 5 times more likely to be killed by their abuser if that abuser owns a firearm.

Domestic violence incidents involving a gun are twelve times more likely to result in death than those that do not involve a gun.

In past years, more than 2/3 of spouse and ex-spouse homicide victims were killed with firearms.

While these numbers are compelling, the broad sweep of the firearm prohibition does not take into consideration those defendants who pose no real threat to the alleged victim. Despite this, anyone who is convicted of an act of domestic violence will lose their right to possess a gun. There is true even if the underlining crime is not an act of violence such as a theft.

Fortunately, you may be able to restore your gun rights after a domestic violence conviction. Eligible defendants can file a petition to restore gun rights with the Superior Court. This is a complicated process, however, and you will have the best chance of success if you have a criminal defense attorney assist you. You are only eligible if at least 5 years has passed since your conviction, you have fulfilled the requirements of your sentence, and you are not facing other criminal charges.

However, restoring your gun rights is not a true restoration. Restoring your gun rights under state law does not mean your federal firearm restriction will be lifted, nor does it necessarily mean you can still get a concealed pistol permit. In fact, as the law stands now, while there is a written Federal law that seems to allow for restoration of your Federal gun rights, there is no perusable method for restoration of Federal gun rights. Put simply, as things stand at the time of this blog post, you can only partially restore your gun rights. That said, navigating the process of restoring your gun rights after a domestic violence conviction can be difficult, especially without help. Speak with a Washington criminal defense attorney with domestic violence experience if you have questions about your rights and how to defend them. An attorney can help you determine if you are eligible to file a petition and help you do so.

Are you concerned about your gun rights? The attorneys at Padula & Associates, LLC know domestic violence law and can help you petition to have your gun rights restored after your conviction. Our attorneys are experienced in DUI and criminal defense and can help you face your charges with confidence while defending your rights. For 10 years Padula & Associates has been serving those in King County, Snohomish County, and surrounding areas with aggressive criminal defense services for DUIs, domestic violence, and other criminal charges. Call us 24/7 at 425-883-3366, email us at info@paduladefense.com or fill out our free consultation form today.

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The Differences Between a Public Defender and a Private Attorney

Posted Tuesday, March 14, 2017 by Lizanne Padula.

alt textPublic vs. Private

One of the most well known rights of the people is the right to an attorney. You have the right to speak to an attorney before being questioned by a police officer. If you are being charged with a crime and are unable to afford an attorney, you can ask for a public defender to be appointed. To qualify for a public defender, you must disclose to the Court your income level and be found to be indigent. If you do not have the money to hire an attorney, a public defender may seem appealing. Acquiring money to hire a private attorney can be daunting. You might ask yourself if one attorney is just as good as another attorney? If so, the appointed attorney who comes free or at a very low rate sounds great. But, is it?

Who Will Provide the Best Defense?

Public defenders are attorneys who work for the government or a firm who contracts with the government to provide public defender services. In fact, many private attorneys start their careers as public defenders. While public defenders can provide you legal advice and representation in your case, they are limited in what they can do for you for a few reasons. Public defenders typically have a very large caseload. This means your public defender might not have the time to handle your case they way they may want to handle it. Often public defenders are frustrated that their workload prevents them giving each case the time it needs. Often they do not have the time to have meetings with you or to take phone calls from you when you have questions or concerns. No matter how good an attorney a public defender may be, the sheer volume of cases assigned to them prevents them from offering their clients the support you need to get through this ordeal. You may find it difficult to get a chance to ask questions about your case or to really explore your options. In addition, as mentioned above, you must be found indigent (i.e. low income) to be eligible for a public defender. Public defenders are typically issued by the Court handling your case, and the Court may have specific rules regarding the use of public defenders. Lastly, public defenders cannot help you with non-criminal matters such as hearings with DOL. If you have a public defender for your DUI, you have to deal with DOL on your own.

Private attorneys work for you. They have more freedom to pick and chose what cases to take. By limiting what cases they take, a private attorney can make sure they have the time to give you the support you need throughout your case. A good criminal defense attorney will meet with you several times outside of Court and take your calls when you need them. Private attorneys can also dedicate more time to keeping you informed about your case. It is crucial that your attorney has met with you, discussed the evidence against you and garnered a clear understanding of your priorities and what outcome you desire. All of this is essential for the attorney to handle the case the way you want them to handle it. Although it may be an investment, a private attorney is typically more skilled and more experienced and can get you better results than a public defender.

Speak with a Washington criminal defense attorney if you have questions about your rights as a defendant. An attorney can evaluate your case and advise you of your rights and when it is a good idea to exercise these rights. A public defender may not be right for your case. If you want to fight your charges, or are concerned about the penalties you face, you should speak with an experienced and proven attorney about your plan of action.

Are you facing criminal charges? The attorneys at Padula & Associates, LLC are skilled in criminal defense and can help you navigate the criminal prosecution process. Our attorneys are experienced in DUI and criminal defense and can help you face your charges with confidence while defending your rights. For 10 years Padula & Associates has been serving those in King County, Snohomish County, and surrounding areas with aggressive criminal defense services for DUIs, domestic violence, and other criminal charges. Call us 24/7 at 425-883-3366, email us at info@paduladefense.com or fill out our free consultation form today.

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