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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. How to Send Mail to an Inmate in Washington

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    If you have a loved one who is in jail, you understand how difficult this time can be. You want to communicate with him or her as much as possible, but due to restrictions, you have to resort to letter writing and scheduled visitations. In Washington state, you can send mail to an inmate as long as you follow certain protocol. Here is how you can send mail to an inmate who is serving time in a Washington prison.

    What Do You Need to Include in Your Letter?

    To send a letter to an inmate, you must adhere to guidelines set forth by the Washington Department of Corrections (DOC). You can only send the letter via the United States Postal Service, UPS, or FedEx. The DOC places limits on the length, content, and volume of the letters you send, and the correspondence has to remain between you and the inmate – no third parties.

    You will need to include the following information when sending a piece of mail to an inmate.

    • The full name of the inmate
    • Your return address, including an identifiable last name
    • The inmate’s DOC number, which you can usually find on the website of the jail where he or she is serving time
    • The correct address for the facility you are mailing the letter to
    • If applicable or known, the name of the unit where the inmate is residing

    Sending Money to Inmates

    You cannot send any cash, checks, or stamps to an inmate via regular mail. If you do include any of these items, the DOC will seize the funds and will not give them to the intended individual. Instead, the DOC will return the money to you at the inmate’s expense.

    This policy is in place because all money must go to the trust account of the inmate, through which he or she makes payments in accordance with his or her court order, such as restitution and community corrections payments.

    In accordance with DOC policy, you can wire the funds through JPay, Western Union, a cashier’s check, or a money order. To read about the specific processes through which you can send money to your loved one, visit the DOC website.

    What Types of Mail Does the DOC Prohibit?

    For prison safety and security, the DOC sets strict rules on what you can and cannot mail. The staff at the prison you are sending the letter to will examine the letter before it reaches the inmate to ensure that it meets certain criteria. If the correspondence breaks protocol, the facility will return it to you.

    If you attempt to send mail to an inmate and the DOC rejects it, you will have to re-examine your correspondence and see if it breaks any of its rules, which include the following.

    • The letter contains escape plans for the inmate.
    • The letter contains any instructional material for committing illegal activities.
    • The correspondence contains cash, stamps, or personal checks.
    • The letter contains any stickers or labels, or a blank greeting card or postcard.
    • You include any gang markings, symbols, or drawings that could contribute to violence.
    • The contents of the letter violates sentencing conditions or any court orders that the inmate is subject to.
    • You or your child write the letter in crayon or gel pen, or excessive marker ink.
    • The letter contains or you treat the letter with perfume, glitter, or other items

    The above list is not exhaustive, and the DOC outlines several other reasons as to why it would reject your correspondence. You can view the complete list of unauthorized mail on the DOC’s website.

    While your loved one is currently serving time in a Washington prison, you may wonder if he or she has any options to reduce the sentence or negotiate an early release. While the chances of these outcomes happening will depend on the circumstances of the case, speaking with a criminal defense attorney can help your loved one determine his or her legal options. Encourage your loved one to contact a Tacoma criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to schedule his or her free consultation.

  6. How Do I Find Out if Someone Is in Jail?

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    Whether you are searching for a loved one or you need to find someone you used to be in business with, you may need to access jail records to track a person down. Undergoing this process can be very overwhelming if you do not know where to start and haven’t reached out to a Tacoma criminal lawyer. Luckily, there are ways for you to find prison records for inmates in various Washington prisons. If you are trying to find out if someone is in jail in Washington state, here is what you need to know.

    The Department of Corrections Inmate Search

    To begin your search, start at the Washington Department of Corrections website. This department has an inmate search engine to help you find an individual who is currently incarcerated in a Washington state prison. To use this tool, you will need the last name of the person you are looking for or his or her Department of Corrections (DOC) number.

    Once you enter your search criteria, the inmate search will give you a list of inmates that match along with where he or she is currently serving time. You can register for Statewide Automated Victim Information and Notification (SAVIN) updates, so the DOC can notify you of any changes in the inmate’s custody. All Washington prisons participate in this service, with the exception of the King County Jail.

    Specific Prison Searches

    If you already know where the person you are searching for is serving his or her time or you want to look up information for a specific prison, you can also perform an inmate search on specific prison websites.

    • King County Jail has an inmate lookup service on its website. If you want to look up information on an inmate who is serving time in this prison, you can perform an inmate search in one of two ways. First, you can browse the jail’s register for names of people who law enforcement officers booked or released within the last 24 hours or the master list of everyone currently serving time. You can also search for a specific inmate by his or her last name and other criteria, such as race and date of birth.
    • The Snohomish County Jail also runs an inmate search engine. You can browse inmates alphabetically by last name using this tool. You can also view various daily jail registers, such as bookings, releases, and the list of inmates.
    • The Pierce County Jail allows you to browse its jail roster on its website. You can look up each inmate by his or her name, his or her booking ID, which Pierce County facility he or she is serving time in, and, if the inmate is no longer in custody, the date and time the prison released him or her.
    • The Kitsap County Jail also allows you to browse its roster, alphabetically by last name. A VINElink accompanies each inmate, which allows you to see all of the details of the inmate’s custody record. and his or her booking date. VINElink is another great tool that lets you look up inmates on a wide database of local jails and state prisons.
    • You can also look at the inmate roster on the Kittias County Jail website. You can view data alphabetically by last name of the inmates who currently serve time in this prison and those who the facility released within the past 7 days.
    • The Yakima County Jail provides access to its entire jail roster. You can browse inmates by last name and expand details to learn more about his or her custody.
    • Thurston County Jail operates an inmate search engine where you can look someone up by his or her last name. You can also choose to display its current roster to browse.

    If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges in Washington state, facing the criminal justice system can feel very overwhelming and terrifying. Jails are not pleasant places, and you want to limit your time in these institutions as much as possible. Hiring a lawyer to represent you in the courtroom can increase your chances of an earlier release. Contact a criminal defense attorney who specializes in your case area to discuss your legal options.

  7. Can Charges Be Dropped at Arraignment?

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    If you are facing criminal charges in Washington state, you will undergo a multi-step process from arrest to the trial and jury verdict. One of these steps is the arraignment, where the court formally informs you of your charges and takes your plea. Many events can occur at the arraignment, including negotiations for reduced charges. In addition, it may be possible for the judge to drop the charges against you completely, depending on the facts of the case.

    What Is an Arraignment?

    After an arrest, you will enter a series of processes within the criminal justice system that will ultimately lead to a decision in your case. The first part of the criminal justice procedure is the arraignment, which will involve a judge reading you your charges. The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution requires the justice system to inform you of your charges, so the arraignment satisfies this requirement.

    Oftentimes, the arraignment must occur within a set timeframe after your arrest. In addition, the judge will ask you to enter a plea involving your case: either guilty or not guilty. Your criminal defense lawyer will advise you which plea to enter, but you should usually enter a plea of not guilty unless advised otherwise.

    Pre-Arraignment Investigations

    Before you enter into an arraignment, you should contact and discuss your case with your attorney. You and your attorney will examine all the evidence available about your case, including the arrest report, notes from the officers at the scene of the arrest, the names and contact information of all the witnesses, and any diagrams or written evidence the prosecution intends to use against you.

    Depending on the evidence that you and your attorney examine prior to the arraignment, your attorney can evaluate how to proceed with your plea. If you uncover any information that could unravel the circumstances of your arrest, you could use this information to your advantage during your arraignment.

    Filing a Motion to Dismiss Your Case

    It is possible for the judge to dismiss your case during an arraignment if he or she sees you’re the officers and the prosecution have a shaky foundation on which to charge you. Your attorney could ask the judge to drop the charges against you by filing a motion prior to your arraignment. You can use the information you uncovered in the pre-arraignment investigation to solidify your case.

    What Happens If the Judge Does Not Dismiss Your Charges?

    You may not uncover any evidence in your pre-arraignment investigations that can prove that the judge has grounds to dismiss your case. Even if you do present evidence that the court should dismiss your charges, the judge may not honor that request. If the judge does not drop your charges and you have to enter into a not-guilty plea, you may have to undergo a series of hearings and trials until the judge reaches a verdict.

    To navigate the criminal justice system, you need to hire a lawyer to represent your case if you have not done so already. A criminal defense attorney can provide a number of benefits for your case.

    • Your attorney will have access to investigative resources and techniques he or she can use to build a compelling defense on your behalf. He or she can interview witnesses, review evidence from the prosecution, and consult with experts to provide testimony on your behalf.
    • You may not know how you should plea or if you should take a plea deal prior to the verdict. Your attorney can evaluate your case and help you determine your best options.
    • Entering the criminal justice system alone can be intimidating. Your attorney can assist you with preparing for the different stages of the criminal justice system, from arraignment to trial.

    Depending on the facts of your case, pre-arraignment negotiations may be possible and may be the best option for you. There is a chance that the court could drop the charges against you at the arraignment. However, this option may not be possible or beneficial for everyone. Contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options and the possibility of reduced or dropped charges at arraignment.

  8. Can I Refuse to Be Interviewed by Police?

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    When we face an arrest by law enforcement, the United States Constitution and other laws afford us certain rights. We know that we have the right to remain silent and to have a defense attorney represent us – but do we have the right to decline an interview by a police officer? If you are facing criminal charges, you may feel like you have to comply with an interview or face consequences, but under some circumstances, you do have the right to refuse an interview.

    You Can Refuse Random Street Questioning

    A police officer may stop you on the street and ask you to answer a few questions about a crime, whether or not it is a crime the officer is accusing you of. While you do have the right to remain silent based on the Fifth Amendment, the officer will not inform you or read you of the right before he or she performs a formal arrest.

    The police also have the right to make random stops on the street without violating your constitutional rights, as long as the officer can justify the stop using specific and articulable facts. However, the officer is not arresting you during a random stop.

    You can always ask if the officer is detaining you. If the answer is no, you can stop the conversation and calmly walk away. Make sure to walk away as calmly as possible, as to not raise suspicion and give the officer a reason to detain you.

    Refusing Voluntary Requests for Questioning

    Another scenario under which a police officer may ask you to answer some questions is if you receive a voluntary request for custody. This is another situation where the Miranda rights warning do not technically apply. You may receive a request to voluntarily visit the police station to answer a few questions.

    You have a choice as to whether or not to comply with the request for questioning. If you do comply, the police officers will not read your Miranda rights and you may answer the questions they ask you. You do have the right to refuse or ignore a request for questioning, but the officers may choose to arrest you, depending on the nature of the case.

    During an Arrest, You Have the Right to Remain Silent

    Once a police officer places you under arrest, he or she must read you your Miranda rights. Under this series of rights, you have the right to remain silent and the right to hire an attorney. You cannot walk away from police officers, but you can refuse to answer any questions they have until your attorney comes to represent you.

    It is important to exercise your right to remain silent during an arrest. You do not want to accidentally say anything that the officers can misconstrue as evidence that you committed a crime. Tell the officers clearly that you do not want to answer any questions until you speak to your attorney.

    If the officers do not respect your Miranda rights, use the following statements to stop the questioning quickly and clearly. Repeat the statement until the officers stop questioning you.

    • “I refuse to answer any questions until my attorney is present.”
    • “I do not want to talk to you, I want to talk to my attorney.”
    • “I’m invoking my Miranda rights.”
    • “I will not speak to you until I call my attorney.”
    • “I am claiming the right to remain silent.”

    Remember, you have the right to refuse an interview by a police officer. If an officer tries to threaten or intimidate you into giving an interview, remember that you have the right to have an attorney present. Do not give in to the officer’s demands until you speak to your lawyer. He or she will help you leave the interview safely and remind the officer of your constitutional and legal rights. If you do not already have a criminal defense attorney, hire one as soon as possible.

  9. What Is the Difference Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor in Washington?

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    Facing criminal charges, whether they are large or small, is a stressful situation. Depending on the severity of the charges and the circumstances of your case, you could face penalties such as jail time, fines, and mandatory probation. However, not all criminal charges carry the same types of punishments. Typically, felony charges are more serious and carry harsher sentences, while misdemeanors have lesser, but still serious, consequences. If you’ve been arrested, please contact our Tacoma criminal defense attorney for help understanding your charges.

    Misdemeanor Charges in Washington State

    Under Washington state law, misdemeanor crimes are less serious than felony crimes, and are usually a more common charge. Disorderly conduct, petty theft, and obstructing traffic are examples of common misdemeanor crimes. Municipal and district courts usually hear cases involving these charges.

    Typically, misdemeanor crimes carry the following penalties.

    • Fines up to $1,000 and/or
    • Imprisonment in county jail up to 90 days.

    Misdemeanor charges can upgrade to gross misdemeanor or even felony charges based on the severity of the crime. Gross misdemeanors include driving under the influence of alcohol drugs, driving in a reckless or dangerous manner, or driving with a suspended license. If you commit multiple misdemeanors in the past, you can receive a gross misdemeanor charge for what would normally be a misdemeanor.

    Gross misdemeanors usually carry higher, more severe punishments than your typical misdemeanor charge, but not as severe as felony charges.

    • Fines up to $5,000 and/or
    • Punishment up to 364 days in county jail.

    Felony Crimes

    Felony crimes are the most serious charges you can face in Washington state. They usually include violent and dangerous crimes, including rape, murder, and armed robbery. Crimes involving significantly high theft and damage also usually receive felony designations. Washington divides felonies into three categories: Class A, Class, B, and Class C.

    • Class C felonies are the least serious of the felony charges, but they still carry significant penalties. You can receive up to $10,000 in fines and/or 5 years in prison.
    • Class B felonies are punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or fine sup to $20,000.
    • Class A felonies are the most serious felony charges you can receive. You can receive up to life in prison and/or a fine up to $50,000.

    The more severe, violent, or serious the crime is, the higher class of felony charge you will likely receive. Usually, Washington Superior Court hears crimes that carry felony punishment.

    In addition, receiving a felony charge has large implications for your life after prison. Aside from imprisonment and the high fines, you may see barriers to receiving future employment and advancing your career. You can also lose your right to vote and the ability to possess a firearm.

    What to Do After an Arrest in Washington

    The moments after an arrest can be confusing and disorienting. You may wonder what will happen in the future, and what steps you need to take to protect yourself. If you are facing criminal charges in Washington state, take these tips into consideration.

    • Comply with police officers. Do not resist arrest or attempt to escape. Doing so can lead to additional charges and a negative impact on the outcome of your case. Listen to the officer’s orders – you can always contact your attorney to assist you.
    • Adhere to your Miranda rights. Remember, you have the right to remain silent. Do not speak a police officer or investigator until your attorney is present.
    • As soon as you are able, call your lawyer to help you through your charges. If you do not already have an attorney, contact one as soon as possible. You will need an attorney to help you understand your legal options and safely speak to law enforcement officers, as well as prepare you for the courtoom.

    Whether you are facing a felony or a misdemeanor charge in Washington state, you may require guidance through the criminal justice system. Hire an attorney as soon as possible to assist with your case. Your lawyer will be able to review and investigate the case against you, build a compelling defense in your favor, and assist you with preparing for your court dates.

  10. What Should I Expect from a Good Criminal Defense Lawyer?

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    Facing criminal charges is a stressful and scary experience. You may not know what to expect or how you can counter these charges, and the criminal justice system can be confusing and complex. You need an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side to guide you through these processes – but with so many attorneys on the market, how do you know if you are hiring an attorney who will work for you?

    There are certain services and qualities you should expect from a good criminal defense lawyer. If your potential attorney does not meet these base criteria, consider expanding your search.

    #1: Confidential, Consistent Communication

    When you hire a criminal defense attorney to represent your case, you want to ensure that he or she communicates well. You do not want to wonder what is happening with your case – your attorney should inform you of all important updates in your case and what you need to prepare for in the future.

    In addition, your attorney should keep all matters regarding your case confidential between the two of you. If you notice any lapses in communication when speaking to an attorney and you are unsure whether he or she will keep your case private, consider hiring another attorney.

    #2: Experience in Your Practice Area

    Not all criminal defense attorneys have the same level of experience or the same specialties. If you are looking for an attorney to represent your case, make sure that he or she has experience in the practice area you need defense in. You would not want to hire an attorney specializing in theft for a case involving drug possession, for example.

    The more experience your attorney has, the more skills he or she is likely to have to help defend your case. Your attorney will know important defense strategies and how to prepare you for different stages of the criminal justice system. If your attorney does not have enough experience or the right experience in your practice area, find another firm.

    #3: Skills to Evaluate Your Options

    You want an attorney who can honestly prepare you for what to expect next. Your attorney should have the ability to evaluate your case and discuss your options with you. In addition, he or she should have skills in negotiation and risk assessment. You want an attorney who can advocate for your best options and help you adequately prepare for the future. If your attorney seems unsure of your future or unskilled in negotiation and evaluation, hire another lawyer.

    #4: Creativity and Effectiveness

    You should expect that your attorney is able to come up with creative and effective defenses for your case, depending on the circumstances of your arrest. With a creative mind, he or she can help you reach an effective and proper resolution for your case through strong defenses. An attorney who seems disinterested or unable to come up with effective defenses for your case may not be the best option for you.

    #5: Good References and Reviews

    If you are unsure where to begin searching for a criminal defense attorney, consider asking your friends and family and reading online reviews. If a defense attorney performs at an effective level, he or she will have a reputation that matches his or her effectiveness. Speaking to previous clients can help you determine whether or not an attorney would be a good match for you.

    Online reviews can also be a good resource, but take these references with a grain of salt. While they can help you gather a general picture of the attorney, the people writing these reviews may have different circumstances from your case. Schedule a free consultation with the lawyer to determine whether he or she is a right fit.

    It is important to ensure your criminal defense attorney will work for you before you hire him or her. You do not want to take chances on hiring this lawyer – after all, your future is in his or her hands. Before you hire an attorney, vet him or her against this list of criteria. Once you find the right match, take the steps to hire – you will definitely need an attorney on your side for your trial.