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  1. What Is a Rape Kit?

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    Sexual assault is a severe crime that the state of Washington takes very seriously. Victims of sexual violence often seek assistance at hospitals or medical centers following the assault, and receive an examination known as a rape kit. Rape kits collect certain pieces of evidence from victims’ bodies, including potential DNA evidence, so that they can use the results to prosecute the perpetrator of the assault.

    The Basics of Sexual Assault Forensic Exams

    After an act of sexual assault, several pieces of evidence may remain on the victim’s body. Like other crime scenes, investigators can collect DNA evidence from a person to determine who committed the crime and to build a case against the perpetrator. Experts encourage victims of sexual assault to visit a hospital to receive a sexual assault forensic exam, also known as a rape kit, so that law enforcement officers can begin their investigation.

    A trained medical or forensic professional usually performs a sexual assault forensic exam, collecting evidence from various areas of the victim’s body, clothes, and other pieces of evidence he or she brings to the hospital. The investigator will usually be a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) or a Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE).

    An exam can include any of the following components.

    • Immediate treatment of any injuries that the victim is suffering from
    • Questions about the victim’s medical and sexual history to ensure that evidence collection is as thorough and accurate as possible
    • A head-to-toe examination where the investigator may take swabs of the mouth and genitals, as well as take samples of blood, urine, and hair
    • The taking of samples of any other pieces of evidence that the investigator finds, such as clothing scraps, stray hairs, and debris
    • Follow-up care for any injuries, sexually transmitted diseases, or potential pregnancies

    Storing Evidence After a Rape Kit

    Once the examiner finishes a sexual assault forensic exam, the victim can choose to submit the evidence to the police or to keep the evidence stored at the hospital. Sexual assault is a very underreported sex crime, so many victims do choose to keep the kit at the hospital until they decide whether or not they want to launch criminal charges against their perpetrators.

    Different states and jurisdictions store rape kits for varying amounts of time. A new Washington state law requires that law enforcement officers test and process these exams within 45 days of the exam. In addition, law enforcement must inform victims of the forensic analysis of their exams and before they destroy a kit.

    Washington Rape and Sexual Assault Laws

    Sexual assault is a serious crime in the state of Washington and carries serious penalties along with it. Any act of sexual intercourse or contact can be an act of sexual assault, and Washington requires consent to be free and informed. A perpetrator cannot coerce, force, or trick a victim into giving consent. In addition, certain people cannot give consent, such as someone who is underage, who has a mental or physical disability that precludes them from giving free and informed consent, or someone who is incapacitated by alcohol or drugs.

    Sexual assault charges can range in severity.

    • First-degree and second-degree rape involve forcible sexual intercourse, but first-degree rape may also involve weapons, kidnapping, breaking and entering, or serious physical injuries. First-degree rape and second-degree rape charges are both Class A felonies. Penalties for this crime can include up to life in prison and fines up to $50,000.
    • Third-degree rape charges are Class B felonies, and involve forcible sexual intercourse that does not constitute second or first-degree rape. Penalties can include up to 5 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
    • Indecent liberty charges are also Class A felonies punishable by life in prison and up to $50,000 in fines. This crime involves any forcible sexual contact without the consent of the victim.

    Many people suffer from instances of sexual assault every single year, but not all accusations of sexual violence are valid. If someone wrongfully accuses you of committing sexual assault, you could face consequences to your freedom, reputation, and well-being. In these situations, you need a crime defense attorney to help you advocate for your side of the story.

    Hiring your own defense lawyer can provide you with a number of benefits for your case, including open communication, familiarity of Washington sexual assault law, and access to resources such as expert witnesses and crime labs. Contact a defense attorney as soon as possible following your arrest to determine your pathway towards the best possible outcome.

  2. The Difference Between Trespass and Criminal Trespass

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    Laws in Washington state protect landowners from unwanted visitors by imposing criminal penalties for trespassing. If you are on someone else’s land without permission, law enforcement officers can easily arrest you and charge you with this crime — and depending on the circumstances, you may receive higher penalties if your trespassing was criminal. There are several factors that can upgrade a trespassing charge to criminal trespassing.

    Trespassing versus Criminal Trespassing

    Regular trespassing, also known as civil trespass, occurs when you are entering or accessing someone else’s property without his or her permission. However, you may not be aware that you are on someone else’s land at the time of the incident — this knowledge is crucial to defining the difference between trespass and criminal trespass.

    If you know that you do not have permission to be on the property that you are on, ignore clear no trespassing signs, and continue to remain or enter the property regardless, you are committing an act of criminal trespass. Wandering onto someone’s property from your own and not realizing that you entered someone else’s land would be an act of civil trespass. Climbing over a fence with a “No Trespassing” sign posted onto it would be an act of criminal trespass.

    Washington’s Criminal Trespassing Laws

    It is important to obtain permission before entering someone else’s building or property, and failure to do so can lead to serious consequences. In the state of Washington, criminal trespass is a crime that can result in jail time and high fines.

    There are two main types of criminal trespassing charges.

    • Criminal trespassing in the second degree occurs when you knowingly enter or stay unlawfully on someone’s property in a way that does not constitute a first-degree criminal trespassing charge. This crime is a misdemeanor, and you may receive up to 90 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine as punishment.
    • Criminal trespassing in the first degree occurs when you knowingly enter or stay unlawfully in a building. This crime is a gross misdemeanor, which is a more serious charge than a misdemeanor. You could face up to 364 days in prison and a fine up to $5,000 if a court convicts you of this crime.

    Why You Need an Attorney for Criminal Trespassing Charges

    If you are facing charges for criminal trespass in Washington, it is important to take the necessary steps to advocate for your side of the story and to protect your chances of obtaining the best possible outcome. Follow these steps immediately after your arrest to avoid additional charges and to seek the assistance you need.

    • Do not resist arrest, run away, or fight against the police officers who are arresting you. This could lead to additional charges and penalties, and the prosecution may use this behavior as evidence that you knew that you were committing a crime. Instead, comply with the officers’ orders and go quietly to the police station.
    • The officers will read you your rights after your arrest, and one of the most important is the right to remain silent. Do not argue your case or speak to any officers or investigators until after your attorney is present. Ask to call your attorney, and do not stop asking for your attorney until after they allow you to call him or her.
    • Finally, contact your lawyer. It may feel tempting to stay with the public defender assigned to your case or to forgo legal representation entirely. Hiring your own criminal defense lawyer can provide you with a number of benefits that a public defender or self-representation cannot. Your attorney will have access to the resources necessary to build your case, along with a strong knowledge of the Washington criminal justice system and the strategies necessary to build a compelling case in your favor.

    Are you facing charges for trespassing or criminal trespassing in the state of Washington? You need an attorney on your side to represent your case and advocate towards the best possible outcome. Contact us today to discuss your case and strategize your next steps.

  3. Appeals in Criminal Cases

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    The criminal justice system is meant to judge cases fairly and to assign the correct penalties to the correct circumstances. However, this system does not always result in fair or correct outcomes — leading to people receiving disproportionate sentences, or serving time for crimes they did not commit. In these situations, with the help of a defense attorney, you can appeal the decision that the judge and jury made regarding your Washington criminal case.

    What Happens When You Appeal a Case?

    In the criminal justice system, an appeal refers to the overturning of a guilty decision or the reassessing of penalties after the judge and jury already issued a verdict in a case. The defendant in the case will request that the federal Court of Appeals or the United States Supreme Court re-review the facts of his or her case and issue another decision. In many cases, the decision of an appeal is final.

    As a defendant in a criminal case, you only have a limited number of times you can apply to appeal your case. In addition, the United States Constitution protects you from an appeal by the prosecution. According to the 5th Amendment and the double jeopardy clause, the court cannot try you for the same crime twice — preventing the prosecution from appealing your case if the judge finds you not guilty.

    How Does the Appeal Process Work?

    Usually in an appeal, your criminal defense attorney will raise a concern regarding how the district court handled your case. Your lawyer will argue that one of the legal grounds for appeal occurred in your case: legal error, juror misconduct, or ineffective assistance of counsel. If the application for appeal is successful, the case will move to the Court of Appeals.

    During the appeal, the appellate court will examine the records of your original trial and determine whether or not the concerns that your lawyer raised occurred in your case. Your attorney will either submit a written brief or make an oral argument before a panel of judges regarding the case, and the prosecution will do the same. In the oral argument process, each side has 15 minutes to present their case and the panel will deliberate afterwards.

    What Happens If You Win a Criminal Appeal?

    It can be very difficult to win a criminal appeal — the Court of Appeals upholds the original decisions made in the vast majority of cases brought to their attention. It is not impossible to win an appeal — but winning an appeal does not mean that your case automatically changes to a not guilty verdict. In most cases, you will have to re-enter the trial process.

    When the Court of Appeals decides to overturn the decision that your original court made, they will remand your case. After remanding, your case may enter one of the following pathways.

    • You will enter a new criminal trial on the same charges.
    • The prosecution and your attorney will meet with you and discuss options for a plea deal.
    • The Court of Appeals will require you to enter a new sentencing hearing and receive updated penalties.
    • In very rare circumstances, the state may release you from prison after an appeal.

    Most appeal decisions are final, and it can be very difficult to bring your case for a second appeal if the first is not successful. However, hiring an attorney with a strong knowledge of criminal law in Washington, as well as experience arguing cases in front of the Court of Appeals, can help you build a strong and compelling case for the reassessment of your verdict.

    If you decide that you want to appeal your case, you will need a defense attorney on your side to guide you through the process. Hiring a lawyer for your criminal case can provide you with a number of benefits, including knowledge of the complex appeals process, direct consultation on the facts of your case and your chances of a successful appeal, and the training and knowledge necessary to build a compelling defense on your behalf.

    Contact our criminal defense attorneys as soon as you can to discuss your case and to begin the first steps toward an appeal.

  4. Washington State Marijuana Laws

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    Many state legislatures have enacted statutes legalizing recreational marijuana use, and the state of Washington is among them. While adults over the age of 21 can legally purchase and consume cannabis, marijuana still comes with some limits regarding its use, sale, and production. If you break one of Washington’s marijuana laws, you could face significant consequences, including jail time, fines, and mandatory community service or probation.

    Marijuana Purchase and Sale Laws in Washington

    Washington, along with Colorado, was one of the first states to legalize marijuana in the country. Adults 21 years and older can purchase marijuana for recreational use with a valid I.D. in the state. However, consumers can only purchase up to 1 ounce of dried cannabis flower at a time for recreational use, and up to 24 ounces at a time for medical marijuana patients. Recreational users cannot grow their own cannabis plants, and medical users can grow up to 15 plants. 

    There is no criminal penalty for the possession and use of marijuana in the amount of 1 ounce or less. Possession of more than 1 ounce up to 40 grams can result in a misdemeanor charge and up to 90 days in prison. Possession of more than 40 grams can result in a felony charge and up to 5 years in prison. In addition, public consumption of marijuana can result in a $100 fine.

    The Washington State Liquor Control Board oversees all cannabis sales, and all cannabis storefronts must adhere to the following restrictions and guidelines.

    • Marijuana dispensaries must not be within 1,000 feet of an elementary school, library, childcare center, or public park.
    • The only storefronts allowed to sell marijuana must sell cannabis and cannabis paraphernalia only. Existing retailers cannot add marijuana to their inventory.
    • Marijuana retailers must only sell to legal customers and honor the purchasing restrictions.

    The illegal sale and manufacturing of marijuana is still a crime in Washington state. If the state catches you selling cannabis illegally, you can be subject to the following consequences.

    • The illegal sale of less than 40 grams can lead to up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Subsequent offenses can double these penalties.
    • If the marijuana sale led to the consumer’s death, the seller can receive a class B felony charge, up to 10 years in prison, and up to $20,000 in fines.

    What Happens If You Get Pulled Over with Marijuana in Your Vehicle?

    Although recreational cannabis use is legal in Washington, driving with this substance and driving under the influence of this substance is still a serious crime. Washington drivers must follow strict guidelines if they have cannabis in their vehicles.

    First, the driver must store the marijuana in a sealed container. Next, the driver must store that container in the trunk, a glove compartment, or another place that is inaccessible while driving. Third, the driver cannot use the substance while driving — doing so can lead to additional driving under the influence charges.

    If a police officer finds improperly-stored marijuana in a vehicle, the driver may face penalties such as jail time, fines, and mandatory community service or other education programs. DUI charges can lead to even more serious penalties.

    What to Do After a Marijuana-Related Arrest

    After a marijuana-related arrest, it is important to remain calm and comply with law enforcement. Do not resist arrest or try to defend yourself. Remain silent and do not speak to any investigators or officers until your attorney is present.

    If you are facing charges for a marijuana-related crime in Washington, contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. It may feel tempting to enter the criminal justice system without a lawyer or use a public defender — but hiring your own attorney can provide numerous benefits for your case, including access to resources and open, honest, and direct communication. If you have not done so already, contact your lawyer as soon as you can following your arrest.

  5. Ignition Interlock Laws in Washington

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    Washington state treats driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol as a serious crime. When a police officer arrests you and asks you to take a chemical test to determine your level of intoxication, a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher, or a THC concentration of 5.00 or higher, can lead to a DUI arrest and subsequent charges.

    Depending on the number of previous offenses and your level of intoxication, Washington will impose a number of penalties for a DUI. You may face jail time, significant fines, license suspension or revocation, and mandatory participation in a sobriety program. In addition, all people charged with DUI in Washington must install an ignition interlock device on their vehicles.

    What Is an Ignition Interlock Device?

    An ignition interlock device is a small tool that connects to your car. You blow into it at one end to measure the amount of alcohol that is currently in your breath, the same way that a breathalyzer test measures your BAC. If you have a certain amount of alcohol in your system, the device will not allow you to start your car. You must blow into the ignition interlock device every time you get into your vehicle.

    The purpose of this device is to prevent you from driving under the influence, restricting you from operating your vehicle if you have a certain amount of alcohol in your system. It can help reduce the amount of repeat offenses, helping keep you and other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians safe on Washington roads.

    Ignition Interlock Requirements After a DUI

    In Washington state, all people who receive a DUI conviction must install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle. Unlike other states, which might require these devices for more severe offenses, all drivers with a DUI receive this penalty, regardless of their BAC or number of past offenses.

    The length of time you will have to keep this device on your vehicle will vary from case to case. The average timeframes are one year for a first offense, five years for a second offense, and ten years for third and subsequent offenses.

    After a DUI, all vehicles that you drive must have an ignition interlock device installed, with the exception of work vehicles. As long as your employer signs a declaration waiver and you only drive the vehicle during work hours, the state will not install this device.

    However, if you have a commercial driver’s license, you do not qualify for the declaration waiver and the state will install an ignition interlock device on your work vehicle. You may also have to obtain a specialized ignition interlock driver’s license to allow you to keep your position and operate your work vehicle.

    What to Do After a DUI Arrest in Washington State

    The moments after a DUI arrest can be disorienting and scary, especially if this is your first offense. However, it is important to remain calm, comply with the police officers, and follow these tips to aim for the best possible outcome.

    • If the police officer asks you to take a breathalyzer or THC concentration test, it is important to comply with his or her orders. Refusing this test can lead to additional penalties or an increase in existing penalties. If the officer asks you to take a chemical test, take the test.
    • When the officer places you under arrest, he or she will read you your rights. All of these rights are important, but one of the most crucial ones is your right to remain silent. Anything you say could lead to additional penalties against you or decrease your chances of obtaining the best possible outcome. Do not speak to the officers, plead your case, or say anything that could lead to additional charges. Do not speak to any investigators at the police station without an attorney present.
    • Another important right you have is your right to an attorney. As soon as you are able to, contact your lawyer and ask him or her to meet you at the station. Do not speak to any investigators or officers until your lawyer is present. If the officers continue to interrogate you without allowing you to contact your lawyer, repeatedly ask for your attorney and state that you will not answer any questions until he or she is present.

    If you have not done so already, contact a DUI attorney to assist you with your case. Your lawyer can provide a number of benefits while you are navigating the criminal justice system, such as connecting you with resources to build your case and helping you prepare for trial. Before you speak to any police officer or investigator, contact your defense lawyer to discuss your legal options.

  6. What Is the Difference Between Physical Control and DUI?

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    In Washington state, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious crime. These substances can impair a person’s motor skills, judgement, and ability to react to dangerous situations while on the road. As a result, the state can impose severe penalties with DUI convictions, including jail time, fines, and license suspension.

    However, you can receive a criminal DUI charge for being in a car while intoxicated, even if you are not driving the vehicle. This is because of physical control laws, which state that drivers cannot be in control of a vehicle while under the influence – even if it is not moving.

    What Does Physical Control Mean?

    Under Washington law, you can receive the same penalties for being in physical control of a vehicle while intoxicated as you do for driving a vehicle while intoxicated. If you are under the influence, inside of a vehicle, and could begin driving at any point, you could receive a physical control charge, even if you do not intend to begin driving. You could be in the driver’s seat, the passenger seat, or the backseat.

    There are many situations where police officers could charge you with being in physical control of a vehicle, including the following.

    • You are a passenger in the car, and you assume control by moving to the driver’s seat or touching the steering wheel.
    • You are sitting in your vehicle with your keys in the ignition.
    • Your car broke down or ran out of gas, and you are sitting in it in the side of the road.
    • You decide to sleep in your car overnight.
    • You decide to enter your vehicle to sober up after a night out.

    BAC Thresholds for DUI and Physical Control

    To determine if you are under the influence, police officers will administer a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test. If your BAC meets or exceeds the thresholds that the law sets, you could receive a physical control or DUI charge. If you refuse to take a BAC test, you could receive additional charges.

    You must be under the influence of alcohol, drugs, marijuana, or a combination of any of these substances for police to charge you with DUI or physical control.

    Police use the following BAC thresholds to charge you with a DUI.

    • You have a BAC of .08% or higher.
    • You have a THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, concentration of 5.00 or higher.

    They use the following BAC thresholds to charge you with physical control.

    • You have a BAC of .08% or higher within 2 hours of being in physical control of your vehicle.
    • You have a THC concentration of 5.00 or higher within 2 hours of being in physical control.

    Penalties for Physical Control versus DUI

    In the state of Washington, physical control is a gross misdemeanor charge. You will receive the same criminal and administrative penalties for physical control as you would for a DUI, including jail time, fines, driver’s license suspensions, probation, and more. The specific penalties you will receive depends on the circumstances of your case.

    DUI penalties in Washington include the following.

    • A first-offense DUI is punishable by a fine between $350 and $5,000, up to 364 days in jail, and various administrative penalties such as a 90-day driver’s license suspension and the installation of an ignition interlock device.
    • Second-offense DUIs involve fines between $500 to $5,000 and between 30 to 364 days in jail. You may also receive a two-year suspension and an ignition interlock device.
    • Third-offense DUIs are punishable by jail sentences between 90 to 364 days, six months in a sobriety program, and a fine between $1,000 and $5,000. They also involve a three-year license revocation and the installation of an ignition interlock device.

    These penalties may increase if you have a BAC of .15% or higher or refuse to take a breathalyzer test.

    If you are facing criminal charges for a DUI or physical control in Washington state, hiring a criminal defense attorney can help you work towards the best possible outcome. Your lawyer can guide you through the process, prepare you for court dates, and build a compelling defense in your favor. Before you speak to any police officers or investigations, contact an attorney to discuss your legal options.

  7. What Are the Most Common Types of Identity Theft?

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    In today’s day and age, it can seem like our personal data is at constantly risk of theft. From high-profile security breaches to online scams, we could fall victim to identity theft at any moment. To understand these risks and to protect yourself against these crimes, it is important to be aware of the most common types of identity theft.

    #1: Social Media Identity Theft

    Many of us have social media accounts across multiple platforms, and often share very personal information about ourselves on them, including photographs, locations, and family information. Social media identity theft occurs when someone either hacks into your account and impersonates you, or duplicates your account.

    Social media identity theft can be incredibly harmful. For example, the hacker could ruin your reputation by sending inappropriate or harmful messages to others, posting inappropriate content, or engaging in hateful activities online. The hacker could also uncover your passwords and use them to access other private accounts on other sites. To avoid this theft, keep your passwords secure and refrain from sharing too much personal information on these sites.

    #2: Tax Identity Theft

    When you fall victim to tax identity theft, someone uses your social security number to either get a job or to file a tax return using your information. Sometimes, the thief can attempt to collect your tax return – and you may be unaware that this occurs until the IRS notifies you of a previously-filed tax return. To avoid this theft, file your taxes early, shred old tax documents, and ask for direct deposits for your refunds.

    #3: Credit Card Identity Theft

    Credit card identity theft is one of the more well-known types of identity theft. It involves someone else using your information to open bank accounts, take out loans, or get new credit cards in your name.

    This can wreak havoc on your financial health, ruining your credit and impacting your ability to take out mortgages or open new financial accounts. To avoid falling victim to credit card identity theft, review your credit reports regularly and use a financial service to freeze your credit as soon as you notice unusual activity.

    #4: Social Security Number Identity Theft

    Social security number identity theft is another well-known form of this crime, and a common one as well. Your social security number can unlock a number of financial pathways for identity thieves, and ties into many other forms of identity theft. They can use your social security number to sign up for government benefits, open financial accounts, and steal your tax refunds.

    You can prevent this crime from happening by keeping this number safe. Keep your social security card in a secure location at home and do not carry it in your wallet. Never share your social security number unless it is necessary, and shred all documents that display the number.

    #5: Banking Identity Theft

    This type of identity theft involves your bank account, and can lead to significant financial crisis. Typically, banking identity theft occurs when a thief steals your credit and debit cards or your bank account information, allowing him or her to access and withdraw your funds. It can occur as a result of a data breach, unsecure internet connection, or even special devices called skimmers which could collect your card information at an ATM.

    To prevent this crime from happening to you, make sure to keep your bank account information safe. Monitor your transaction history regularly to look for any unusual transactions and shred any documents that contain your card information. Avoid using unsecured internet networks and protect your computer with antivirus software, firewalls, and strong passwords.

    Identity theft is a crime across the United States, and the penalties for committing it can be severe. If you are facing charges for identity theft in Washington state, it is important to contact a Tacoma criminal defense attorney who can represent you in the courtroom and at the negotiating table. If you have not done so already, contact a defense lawyer as soon as possible following your arrest.

  8. Will I Go to Jail for First-Offense Shoplifting?

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    Shoplifting from a store is a crime that can have varying consequences. In some situations, you may receive a gross misdemeanor charge and have to pay fines and complete community service – and in some cases, may result in jail time. In others, you might have to face felony-level penalties, including higher fines, additional administrative penalties, and a greater chance of serving jail time. The severity of the charge depends on the total of the theft and the number of previous offenses you have on your record.

    What Is Shoplifting?

    Shoplifting refers to the act of taking merchandise from a store without the intent to pay for the items. It can involve a varying amounts and types of items, ranging from small, inexpensive items that can fit into a pocket to items that have high value and are more difficult to steal without notice. Shoplifting is a crime throughout the United States, including Washington.

    If police officers catch you shoplifting or believe that you are shoplifting, you could face significant penalties. Depending on the circumstances of the theft, the officers may charge you for petty theft, which is a lesser charge, or a felony, which is very serious and often results in jail time. It’s important to contact a Tacoma theft crimes attorney if you have been charged with shoplifting, a lawyer can help you avoid jail time or reduce the charges.

    When Is Shoplifting a Felony?

    Washington state classifies shoplifting crimes under three categories: theft in the third degree, theft in the second degree, and theft in the first degree. The type of charge you receive after a shoplifting incident depends on the value of the items you allegedly stole or attempted to steal.

    • If the alleged stolen property is $750 or less in value, you receive a third-degree theft charge, which is a gross misdemeanor. Under this charge, you could receive a fine up to $5,000, a jail sentence up to one year, or both.
    • If the alleged stolen property is between $751 and $4,999 in value, you will receive a second-degree theft charge, which is a class C felony. This crime is punishable by up to 5 years in jail, a fine up to $10,000, or both.
    • If the alleged stolen property is $5,000 or more in value, you will receive a first-degree theft charge, which is a class B felony. You may receive a fine up to $20,000, up to 10 years in prison, or both.

    Most shoplifting cases are third-degree thefts, which could result in jail time. The smaller the value of the items you allegedly stole, the less likely you are to go to jail for shoplifting.

    In addition, if you have previous shoplifting offenses on your record, the courts may take these into consideration before giving you a sentence. However, the circumstances of your case may differ – speak to an attorney to discuss potential penalties.

    Do You Need an Attorney for Your Shoplifting Case?

    Each case is different and you could face jail time for shoplifting, even if it is a first offense. To defend yourself in court and to work towards the best possible outcome, contact a Washington criminal defense attorney to assist you with your case. Your lawyer can provide you with a number of benefits, including the following.

    • Your attorney will have a strong knowledge of Washington theft law and the process you will need to go through. He or she will be able to guide you through each step of criminal justice system.
    • You may not have access to the tools necessary to build a strong defense. Your attorney can consult with a network of experts and utilize a variety of resources to help develop your case.
    • By having an attorney advocate for your side of the story, you can more adequately defend yourself against your charges than if you represented yourself in court.

    If a Washington police officer arrests you for shoplifting and it is your first offense, it is highly unlikely that you will receive any jail time. However, the results vary from case to case – and you may be facing significant penalties. In these situations, you will need a criminal defense attorney on your side to advocate for the best possible outcome. Contact a lawyer as soon as you can following your arrest to discuss your options.

  9. What Happens If You Get Pulled Over with a Suspended License?

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    When a police officer pulls you over and gives you a ticket in Washington state, you can face different consequences based on the infraction: fines, traffic school, community service, and other administrative penalties. However, the consequences can significantly increase if you are driving with a suspended license. The officer will require you to find someone to take you home and, depending on the severity of the incident, you may face criminal charges. In this case, you will need a Tacoma suspended license lawyer.

    Why Could You Have a Suspended License?

    In Washington state, a license suspension occurs when you lose your driving privileges for less than a year. If you lose your privileges for over a year, you have a revoked license. The state can also cancel your license, which results in a permanent loss in your ability to drive in Washington.

    Many different driving infractions or incidents can lead to a suspended license. The most common reason for losing your ability to drive is if you have too many traffic violations on your record. If you receive at least four tickets in one year or five tickets in two years, the state will suspend your license.

    You can also face a license suspension if you commit a serious traffic crime, including the following.

    • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
    • A hit-and-run conviction
    • Driving recklessly
    • Driving without insurance
    • Causing a fatal accident

    Penalties for Driving with a Suspended License

    Driving with a suspended license is a criminal traffic offense in Washington, and you can face significant penalties if a law enforcement officer catches you. You can face a charge of driving with a suspended license in the first, second, or third degree, with each carry their own consequences.

    • Driving with a suspended license in the third-degree is the most common and least severe of the suspended license charges. You receive this charge if you drive with your suspended license when you are eligible for the state to reinstate your license. You may be eligible if the state suspended your license for a minor charge, such as unpaid traffic ticket or child support. You could face a simple misdemeanor charge, up to 90 days in jail, and a $1,000 fine. This charge rarely results in jail time.
    • Driving with a suspended license in the second-degree is more severe than the third-degree, but not the most severe one you could face. You receive this charge if you drive when you are not eligible to reinstate your privilege to drive. You are ineligible if you lost your license as a result of a serious crime, such as a DUI conviction or reckless driving charge. You will receive a gross misdemeanor on your record and could face up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
    • Driving with a suspended license in the first-degree is the most severe suspended license charge you could receive. Police will charge you with this crime if you lost your license for being a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO), or you received three major traffic convictions within a five-year period. Penalties can include a gross misdemeanor charge with a maximum of 364 days in prison and a $5,000 fine. You will need to spend at least 10 days in jail if this is your first offense, 90 days for your second offense, and 180 days for third and subsequent offenses.

    How to Fight a Suspended License Charge

    You can face severe penalties for driving with a suspended license, depending on the degree of the charge and the circumstances under which the state suspended your license. In order to combat these charges, you will need to attend hearings, negotiate with the prosecution, and collect necessary evidence to build a compelling case in your favor. To accomplish this, you will require legal representation.

    If you are facing charges for driving with a suspended license in Washington state, contact an attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will be able to advise you on the charges you are facing, the potential penalties you may receive, and your best legal options. He or she will have experience working in Washington courts and have a strong knowledge of traffic law, which can assist you in fighting the charge.

  10. What Is the Difference Between Moving and Non-Moving Violations?

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    If a police officer recently gave you a traffic ticket, you may wonder what penalties you can face. In the state of Washington, law enforcement places traffic tickets into one of two categories: moving and non-moving violations. The penalties you will have to defend yourself from will vary based on the severity of the charge, which category it falls into, and the level of damage that the police allege that the incident caused.

    What Is a Moving Violation?

    You will receive a moving violation charge if the crime that the police are accusing you of occurred when the vehicle is moving. The Washington Administrative Code defines the following crimes as moving violations. They range in severity from making an improper lane change and other minor traffic violations to dangerous driving behaviors, such as distracted and intoxicated driving.

    • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
    • Being in physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
    • Vehicular homicide or vehicular assault
    • Reckless driving or racing
    • Hit and runs
    • Eluding a police vehicle
    • Having an open container of alcohol in your vehicle
    • First and second-degree negligent driving
    • Failure to obey a road sign
    • Being under the age of 21 and driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
    • Being a commercial driver and operating a commercial vehicle while under the influence
    • Speeding anywhere, including a school zone
    • Failure to obey a school crossing guard, police officer, firefighter, or other official
    • Using an electronic device while driving.

    The above list is not exhaustive, as the Administrative Code defines over 70 different driving infractions that qualify as moving violations. Moving violations can stay on your record for a very long time, impacting your insurance rates and potentially your ability to drive.

    The penalties that you could face for a moving violation depend on the type of crime the police allege that you committed. For example, a speeding ticket may require you to go to traffic court and attend traffic school, as well as pay a fine. However, if police arrest you for speeding while you are under the influence of alcohol, you could face jail time, high fines, license suspension, and other administrative penalties.

    What Is a Non-Moving Violation?

    On the other hand, you receive a non-moving violation if the incident occurs when the vehicle is not moving. In the state of Washington, the police will charge you with a non-moving violation if you violated parking rules, fail to renew your license and registration, or drive without insurance. Many different infractions can qualify as a non-moving violation – check with a Tacoma defense attorney to determine whether or not your charge falls under this category.

    Non-moving violations can appear on your driving record in Washington, unlike many other states. Both moving and non-moving violations will remain on your record for three years – but unlike moving violations, non-moving violations usually do not have an impact on your insurance rates.

    Penalties for non-moving violations are usually less harsh than moving violation consequences. Depending on the type of infraction, you will usually have to pay a traffic ticket and face administrative penalties, such as license suspension until you renew your insurance. It is not likely that you will face jail time for a non-moving violation.

    When Do You Need an Attorney for a Traffic Ticket?

    Knowing the difference between a moving and a non-moving violation can help you determine what type of legal issues you may face. Moving violations can have long-term consequences for you, including jail time, fines, and significant administrative punishments. If you believe that you could face criminal charges for the infraction, contact a Washington criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

    Depending on the facts of your case, your attorney could help you negotiate the terms of the sentence and work towards the best possible outcome. He or she will guide you through the criminal justice system and help you prepare for what is next. Speak to an attorney with experience in moving violations to determine your legal options.