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There was an interesting case in the Washington courts about seven years ago. The participants will be kept anonymous but permission has been received to simply share the story. The case involved child custody and domestic violence. Both the man and the woman, or father and mother, were claiming to be the victims of domestic violence. The innocent party had spent years actually hiding the violence and not calling the police except for once. So there was very little evidence. The court was left in the unenviable position of dealing with a basically “he said, she said” case and making their decision. It does sound like the court had a hard road in deciding.

It would also seem, however, that there was circumstantial evidence that could be used. The man was small – he stood at 5’1” and was about 160 pounds. He was also cripplingly arthritic and had no police record at all. The woman was substantially larger – she stood at 5’11” and was about 300 pounds. She also had a history of diagnosed mental illnesses including bipolar disorder and had needed to be institutionalized twice, once for a suicide attempt and once for violent acts. The court chose to believe the woman. The man could not believe it. He himself asked later, “Even if I was capable of violence, which I don’t think I am, what chance would I possibly have against her? She could easily overpower me without using violence at all!” It does seem odd. But she had this going for her – she was the woman. It is getting better but the courts still have a hard time seeing the possibility that the man can be the victim in a domestic violence case. Continue reading

You have been accused of stalking. You are probably quite understandably upset, worried and maybe even angry. In most of these cases the two parties know each other. You may have been completely unaware that the other person was upset by your presence or communication. You are worried what this will mean to your future.  Commonly, this is a former intimate partner or relationship making this a domestic violence allegation.

Stalking is charged when you are suspected of repeatedly following another person who is afraid or intimidated by this and you know (or should have known) that they felt fearful. Please notice that you do not need to intend to frighten the other person for this crime to be charged; it simply matters that they felt threatened. This is generally a gross misdemeanor charge with penalties of up to a year in jail and a $5000 fine. But, there are situations which can increase this to a felony charge with penalties of up to 5 years in jail a $10,000 fine. This increase happens when you have a past conviction of stalking or there is a restraining order in place or you are suspected of trying to intimidate a witness in another case. So this is very serious. Also, if this is a domestic violence situation then the probation, even on the misdemeanor, can be five years long.  That is what you need to know and that is why you need a defense attorney. Continue reading

It is a known fact that domestic violence happens, is a problem for Washington (not to mention the whole country), and has caused permanent injuries and even fatalities. Yet it is also known that for every victim that is found, helped and able to get out, there are many unreported domestic violence situations.  In fact, it is usually the case that when the police or courts are involved the abuse has been going on for some time before it was reported. In many cases the only reason that some domestic violence situations are reported is that a third party witness called it in or a major injury or fatality was sustained and there was no choice but to involve others for medical aid

For many people this raises a lot of comments and questions. “Surely they couldn’t like being abused – no one does. I would never let that happen to me. Why didn’t they just call the police or at least leave? Why did they stay?” These comments and questions are usually derived from sympathy for the victims and are well intentioned. However, they also show a lack of understanding of what it is like to be in an abusive relationship involving domestic violence. There are many reasons why people choose to stay in a domestic violence situation. The reasons do not condone the violence by any means. Nor are the reasons usually well thought out. But it does help us empathize with people if we can at least partially understand. Continue reading

One of the worst tragedies in our society today is that of domestic violence. One of the most surprising statistics that you can find if you look is that every 37.8 seconds there is a man being physically abused. This is surprising because the research seems mostly to concern itself with women victims and it is generally known that there is a woman being abused just as frequently if not more so. There is no formula for why it happens. Yes there are common risk factors and those will be examined but even if all the risk factors exist in a household there is no guarantee that physical violence will happen. Conversely, even if none of the risk factors are present there is no guarantee that violence will not happen. Anyone can be a perpetrator. Anyone can be a victim. Anyone can be accused too – if you find yourself in this situation you will want to consult a defense attorney as quickly as possible.
One of the more common risk factors Continue reading

Are you having a crisis moment? The worst scenario happened. You drove. You got taken to the station. You were given a BAC test. Then you tested over the Washington legal limit of .08. Now you probably do not feel like fighting. What you are very seriously thinking about is pulling your hair a little, maybe biting your nails or crying for a little, worrying a lot but eventually throwing in the towel, pleading guilty just to get it over with and hoping for a merciful judge.

You did blow an over the legal limit number. So it seems like they have all the science and the law on their side. So the reaction listed above is an understandable one and one that many people have mistakenly also made both before and after you. Since you are examining a defense attorney website it can be assumed for now that you have left your options open. That is good because there are defense options available. Continue reading

Washington has been in the foreground of marijuana legalization. It was one of the first states to legalize its medical use and then its recreational use. As you walk through the cities of our state it can be noticed that it has definitely become socially acceptable. Due to this legalization and social acceptance arrests involving marijuana have understandably declined. Although it’s technically illegal you can see people smoking it openly and the police do not seem to regularly enforce this illegality. Plus now there are shops that sell marijuana. It would probably be an exaggeration to say there is a marijuana store on every block but it sometimes does feel that way. As long as you have the proper license you will not get arrested for marijuana selling. As long as you buy from an authorized dealer you will not get arrested simply for buying or using.

But there is one marijuana related arrest that is actually on the rise. Because marijuana does cause impairment it is still illegal to use it and drive and you can be arrested for DUI. The legal limit for marijuana is five nanograms of active THC in the blood within two hours of driving and the penalties for a marijuana involved DUI are the same as if the DUI involved alcohol. These arrests, unlike the others, are increasing. In fact they have almost doubled. Continue reading

A car trip involving two sisters led to a physical fight and police involvement. The subsequent assault trial of one of the sisters led to a nearly-one-year jail sentence and an appeal to the Washington Court of Appeals. That decision, handed down in February of this year, offers some useful knowledge about when a criminal defendant is, or is not, entitled to demand that the trial judge instruct the jury on the law of self-defense.

The events that led up to the arrest started seemingly innocuously enough. Emily Dalhaug was riding in a car driven by her sister, Tomi Maine, traveling through the eastern Washington town of Warden. Dalhaug complained to Maine about Maine’s texting while driving. Maine, in response, swatted her sister, hitting Dalhaug in the shoulder with the back of her hand. Dalhaug responded to getting backhanded by punching Maine in the head. Maine stopped the car, and the battle spilled out onto the street. Another driver, who saw the two fighting and who happened to be the stepson of a local police sergeant, phoned his stepfather.

Continue reading

You are being charged with or even been already convicted of a DUI. You probably are already aware of the official penalties – jail time, fines, license suspension, and other potential penalties. But what you may not be aware is that there are also unofficial penalties. These are the penalties that a DUI causes but are not officially part of the criminal code. One of these may be disapproval from your family and friends or another may be difficulty in finding employment or housing due to your record. Due to the Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision you may have difficulties if you choose to move to another state. You will face another unofficial penalty if you ever need to go to Canada for either business or pleasure. As the border is so close this does come up as a problem in Washington more often than in many other parts of the country.

You are probably wondering why entering Canada would be a problem if it is not a penalty listed in our laws. This is because the limitation is caused not by Washington or United States law; it is caused by Canadian law. In Canada even a first offense DUI is classified as a felony. The customs officers will not allow anyone entrance to Canada to anyone with a felony on their record and they do not use US classifications – they use Canadian classifications. So it can get very difficult to enter into Canada once you have a DUI on your record. Continue reading

When someone is studying DUI laws in Washington there is a term that will come up and that is “escalating penalties”. What is usually also being discussed is whether the escalating penalties have been effective in curbing repeat offenses or DUI related fatalities. The phrase is actually used and discussed within two contexts so it can get a little confusing.

The first context you may have discovered if you have needed to deal with a second or greater DUI arrest. The more DUI’s that you get the penalties that you face increase. If you are facing a 5th or higher DUI charge the crime is then classified as a felony which would mean prison time if you were convicted. This is what is often meant by “escalating penalties”.

What can also be meant is the history of DUI law in the first place. This context of the term “escalating penalties” can also affect first time offenders. Continue reading

If you are facing DUI charges for the first time you are undoubtedly nervous and unsure of your options. This is not something anyone plans and when it happens all you know is that you are in the middle of a nightmare.

Now, of course, the best case scenario is an acquittal. But what if you do not think you have a chance of that happening? First, talk with your DUI defense attorney. The law is complex and the case against you may not be as hard as you think it is. But what if your defense attorney also thinks an acquittal is unlikely? Then what may be suggested is a plea bargain to a lesser charge and the most common charge would be a wet reckless driving charge (a reckless driving with an added statement related to having consumed alcohol). At this point you may be wondering, “Well, is this better? Do I want this or not?” Continue reading

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