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Misdemeanor vs. Felony Criminal Cases, Washington State

Posted Thursday, July 6, 2017 by Lizanne Padula.

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The difference between being charged with a misdemeanor versus a felony is significant. Misdemeanors are considered less serious than felonies, and carry lighter penalties. The Revised Code of Washington (RCW 9A.20.010) classifies crimes as:

• Felonies. For purposes of sentencing, felonies are designated as Class A, Class B, or Class C, with Class A felonies being the most serious criminal offenses.

• Misdemeanors, or

• Gross Misdemeanors.

Misdemeanor Crimes

A misdemeanor is any crime punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000, or by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than ninety days, or by both a fine and jail time. Misdemeanor cases are heard in District and Municipal Courts.. Examples of a Misdemeanor include Disorderly Conduct, Minor DUI and Negligent Driving 1st degree.

Gross misdemeanors are more serious crimes than misdemeanors. Mandatory sentencing for a gross misdemeanor is either provided for in the RCW, or if no punishment is codified in any statue, the crime is punishable by not more than 364 days in a county jail, or by a fine not to exceed $5,000, or by both imprisonment and a fine. Examples of a Gross Misdemeanor include DUI, reckless driving, and driving with a suspended driver’s license.

Felony Crimes

Felonies are the most serious crimes, including rape, murder, and armed robbery. Class A felonies are punishable by prison sentences, including a life sentence, and fines of up to $50,000. Class B felonies are punishable by up to 10 years in prison, and fines of up to $20,000. Finally, Class C felonies carry penalties of up to 5 years in prison, and fines up to $10,000. Felony cases are heard in Superior Court.

Your life will be seriously impacted by any criminal conviction; however, the lifelong consequences of a felony conviction are far more serious. There is a high probability that a felony conviction will hinder your future employment opportunities, career advancement, and your ability to get a professional or vocational license. You can also lose your right to vote and to possess a firearm. If you have been charged with a crime, it is critical that you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights.

Padula & Associates, LLC are skilled criminal defense attorneys prepared to mount a strong defense against any State or Federal criminal charges you are facing. We will thoroughly investigate your case, advocate for your rights, and keep you informed and prepared every step of the way. To best serve our clients, we answer our phones 24/7. Call us at 425-883-3366, or contact us via the web or email info@paduladefense.com. The consultation is free.

For more than 20 years, Padula & Associates, LLC has been serving those in King County, Snohomish County, and throughout Washington State with aggressive criminal defense services.

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New Law Makes 4th DUI in Washington State A Felony

Posted Monday, July 3, 2017 by Lizanne Padula.

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New laws on DUI’s have been signed into law in Washington State. Effective July 23, 2017 a fourth DUI conviction within 10 years will be charged as a felony. Under the new law, offenders will be sent to prison for 13 to 17 months (although this jail time can increase depending on your criminal history).

Up to this point, the existing law made the fifth DUI offense a felony, requiring four misdemeanor DUI convictions over the 10 years prior to the fifth conviction. The bill’s fiscal notes state that roughly 192 cases per year will be prosecuted as felony DUI cases rather than gross misdemeanors.

Other Laws Concerning DUI’s

Along with Senate Bill 5037, Governor Jay Inslee also signed into law House Bill 1614-S2.SL, which tightens rules associated with DUI arrests and related procedures. Also effective July 23, 2017, the new law:

• Imposes an express requirement that, to vacate a record of conviction for an impaired driving related prior offense, 10 years must have elapsed since the arrest for the prior offense.

• Requires a law enforcement officer to make a warrantless arrest and hold a person suspected of impaired driving in custody when the arresting officer knows that the person is charged with or awaiting arraignment on another offense related to impaired driving.

• Imposes an additional $50 fee upon conviction for certain impaired driving related offenses to fund grants for organizations that operate programs to reduce driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

• You can read the entire House Bill Report here.

The ratification of these new laws signals a crack down on DUI offenses in Washington State. Prosecutors may begin to more zealously pursue DUI charges. If you are facing DUI charges, you need to consult with a skilled Washington criminal defense attorney with DUI defense experience.

The skilled attorneys at Padula & Associates, LLC know how important it is to defend your rights. Our attorneys are experienced in all aspects of DUI defense. We know how to pinpoint the weaknesses in the Prosecution’s case and use them to get DUI charges dropped to lesser offenses or dismissed entirely. For more than 20 years, Padula & Associates, LLC has been serving the people of King County, Snohomish County, and Washington State with aggressive and effective criminal defense.

We answer our phone 24 hours a day, 7 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.

5: http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2017-18/Pdf/Bill Reports/House/1614-S2.E HBR PL 17.pdf

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How Do Ignition Interlock Devices Work?

Posted Friday, June 30, 2017 by Lizanne Padula.

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Controlling Your Car

In Washington, a DUI conviction will result in an automatic license suspension or revocation. To mitigate the effect of this, and keep you driving, Washington allows suspended drivers to apply for an Ignition Interlock License (IIL) . To apply you will need to install an Ignition Interlock Device in your car. Ignition Interlock Devices (IIDs) control the ignition of a car. Below is a very basic explanation of how they work.
When you want to start your car, you provide a breath sample by blowing into the mouthpiece. Most IID devices will use a fuel cell alcohol sensor to analyze this breath sample for any traces of alcohol. If the device detects no alcohol, you will be able to start your ignition. If it does detect alcohol, the results will be logged and you will have to wait a period of time before you can try again. We recommend LifeSafer for IID’s in Washington. They are a responsible company committed to getting you on the road legally.

Some devices use semiconductor technology. These devices can react to the presence of other chemicals such as car exhaust. This makes them less reliable and more difficult to use. These aren’t the accepted industry standard but are still in limited use today. We do not recommend use of these unreliable IID’s.

It is important to know not all IIDs are created equal. Just like any commercial product, there are numerous manufacturers of these devices and each device is a little different. Some have enhanced features that make the device more discreet, more reliable and/or more convenient to use. We recommend LifeSafer® IIDs, which are reliable and reasonable priced. Check out the manufacturer’s website to learn about the specific features of each device. While each may vary slightly, they all provide the same basic functions outlined above that can prevent you from starting your car if you have been drinking.

Consult with an experienced Washington criminal defense attorney if you are facing DUI charges or have questions about the penalties you could incur for a DUI conviction. Now that you know the basics of how IIDs work, you can make an informed decision about whether you want to apply for an IIL and what device you want to install. An attorney can help you understand the process of applying for an ILL and advise you every step of the way. When your ability to drive is on the line, it is very important to work with a skilled attorney to ensure you adhere to your sentencing.

Were you recently arrested or are facing charges for a DUI? The skilled attorneys at Padula & Associates, LLC understand how stressful your situation can be, and they 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 has been serving those in King County, Snohomish County and throughout 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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Your Rights During Field Sobriety Tests

Posted Friday, June 23, 2017 by Lizanne Padula.

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The Preliminary Test

After being pulled over on suspicion of a DUI, the police officer may ask you to submit to “Standardized Field Sobriety Tests” or “FST’s”. These tests are typically administered roadside and require the driver to perform a number of physical tasks, the results of which are supposed to help the officer determine whether or not the driver is under the influence. If you find yourself being asked to complete a Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST), it is important to understand and exercise your rights.

Despite what the authorities might lead you to believe, Washington law does not require you to submit to SFSTs. You can and usually should, politely refuse to undergo SFST’s when asked. In our opinion, SFST’s are designed for failure, and even sober drivers can easily fail the tests. Additionally, the tests are being subjectively evaluated by an Officer who probably wants to get another DUI arrest. These tests are not objective and not in your best interest.

Indeed, some of the components of the test, the horizontal gaze nystagmus test for example, that requires you to follow a moving object with your eyes, can indicate any number of conditions, and intoxication is only one of these. Actually, certain medical conditions can affect your ability to smoothly pursue an object with your eyes. However, despite the many other causes of this response, law enforcement will treat this as a conclusive indicator of alcohol consumption and impairment. For this reason, we recommend you politely decline to take such a test because it has the potential to produce unreliable evidence that can be used against you in a criminal case. We suggest, “I am sorry officer, my attorney has told me never to do these tests under any circumstance”.

You should know that you do not have the right to speak with an attorney before taking SFT’S. Even after politely refusing, you may be asked to take a roadside Breathalyzer test. You can refuse this test as well. You may get arrested but you were likely going to be arrested anyway. Focus on whether you will be convicted and not whether you will get arrested. Also, ask to talk to an attorney once at the station. We can be reached 24/7

You need to consult with a skilled Washington criminal defense attorney with DUI defense experience if you are facing DUI charges. An attorney can inform you of your rights and craft an effective defense. A criminal defense attorney will be proficient at identifying the weaknesses in your case and leveraging them in negotiations. Therefore, calling an experienced Washington criminal defense attorney should be your first step in fighting the DUI allegations against you.

Were you arrested for a DUI? The skilled attorneys at Padula & Associates, LLC know how important it is to defend your rights can be and can help you fight your charges in court. Our attorneys are experienced in all aspects of criminal defense, and they will help take on DUI allegations with confidence. For more than 20 years, Padula & Associates has 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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Domestic Violence Response Arrest Requirements

Posted Friday, June 16, 2017 by Lizanne Padula.

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The Duties of the Responding Officer

Once someone has called 911 to report a domestic violence incident, law enforcement will respond. Many people believe police officers are required, by law, to make an arrest when responding to a domestic violence call. This isn’t necessarily true. Police officers are under strict guidelines when responding to a domestic violence call. Typically, a responding officer can and must make an arrest if he or she has probable cause (PC) to believe a domestic violence offense was committed in the last 4 hours or that a No-Contact Order was violated. Probable cause loosely means that a reasonable person would believe a person probably committed the crime being investigated.

The officer is not required to find Probable Cause and sometimes what they see does not establish probable cause. However, in many cases, the officer will find probable cause to make an arrest. This is true even if the alleged victim didn’t suffer any physical injuries or if he or she asks the officer to not make an arrest. The decision to make an arrest and forward the information along to the prosecuting attorney’s office is in the hands of law enforcement and not the alleged victim. Conversely, if there was clearly no altercation or there was no violation of a No-Contact Order, the officer would not have probable cause to make an arrest for a domestic violence offense. Keep in mind though, for liability purposes, when in doubt most officers will make the arrest. Lastly, most police “investigations” will only scratch the surface and may not uncover what is really going on.

If you believe you were arrested without probable cause, you should speak with an attorney. While Washington police officers must follow certain guidelines when they respond to a domestic violence call, these strict requirements don’t rule out poor judgment calls or sloppy “investigations”. The unfortunate consequence of this is innocent people are arrested for false allegations of domestic violence every day. Therefore, it is imperative you enlist the help of an attorney and fight any charges that may have resulted from a wrongful arrest or false allegation.

While the response of law enforcement is the first phase in many domestic violence cases, there is still a long road ahead before a prosecutor can get a conviction. You need the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney to maximize your chance of defending your criminal charges. A knowledgeable attorney can inform you of your rights thoroughly investigate the situation and craft an effective defense. Lastly, a good attorney will keep you informed and prepared every step of the way.

Were you arrested for a crime involving domestic violence? The skilled attorneys at Padula & Associates, LLC can defend your rights and help you fight for a just resolution. Our attorneys are experienced in all aspects of criminal defense, and they will help you take on domestic violence allegations with confidence. For over 20years, Padula & Associates has 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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