Children are different than adults. No surprise there. That's why we forgive children for their crimes far more easily than we forgive adults. Again, no surprise there. That's also why the process for sealing your juvenile court records in Washington is much easier than sealing your adult re...
The right to a jury trial obviously means you have the right to have a fair and impartial jury hear your case. Otherwise, the right to a jury trial is harmful, and hollow.
Under the Washington Constitution, a criminal defendant has a right to be notified of the nature of the charge so the defendant can prepare and present an adequate defense. This makes constitutional, practical, and intuitive sense. You can’t really defend yourself against a moving target. But in certain cases, the Washington Supreme Court ruled today, you can—at least to a degree.
Washington Supreme Court sets aside murder conviction based on racially motivated jury selection process
State v. Pierce is in large part about the death penalty. For that reason, you may think that today's case is irrelevant, because in 2018, the Washington Supreme Court struck down the state’s death penalty law. But State v. Pierce is also in large part about race, which makes the case entirely relevant today in Washington.
You walk into a courthouse and pass through security. You remove your coat, take off your backpack or purse, and take everything out of your pockets. You walk through a metal detector and the items you've removed (i.e. wallets, cell phones, etc.) are individually screened. This happens thousand...
The Court’s holding is pretty simple: to prove a “prior offense” under RCW 46.61.5055(14)(a)(xii), prosecutors have to establish that a defendant has a prior conviction for DUI, or that a defendant has a prior conviction for reckless driving or negligent driving in the first degree if the State had originally charged the defendant with DUI in these two cases. “That is all the felony DUI statute requires,” the Court held.
Prosecutors and judges treat sexual offenders but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be going to prison for a long time if you’ve been convicted of a sex offense in Washington. Under Washington law (RCW 9.94A.670), some sexual offenders may be eligible for Washington’s Special Sexual Offender Sentencing Alternative (SSOSA).
Washington Supreme Court rules that drivers must use their turn signals every time they turn left or change lanes
If you're turning left from a left-turn only lane, do you really need to activate your turn signal, even if there are no drivers or pedestrians in the area. Yes, said the Washington Supreme Court in a unanimous opinion today.
Washington court dismisses personal injury case because plaintiff's attorney did not sign the summons
Losing your personal injury case can be a devastating experience. Losing your personal case because your own attorney made a mistake is even worse.
“We are not final because we are infallible, but we are infallible only because we are final.” A legal purist would call Justice Robert Jackson’s famous remark about the U.S. Supreme Court a jaded opinion, but it’s legally accurate. Supreme Court justices are smart—very smart, in fact—but they’re not necessarily smarter or better writers than state supreme court judges or other appellate judges. But unlike every other judge, they get the final say.
To say that cell phones are an integral part of our personal and professional life might be the biggest understatement of the 21st century. Today’s smartphones can do virtually almost anything— browse the web, take pictures, play music, watch videos, send messages.
We don’t just expect officers to investigate crimes and arrest people. We also expect them to protect the community and keep the peace, even when there’s no evidence of criminal activity.
Washington Supreme Court rules that trial judges must thoroughly investigate allegations of juror misconduct based on implicit racial bias
Racial bias can infect the criminal justice system and, like a virus, eats away and damages the body. Racial bias in the jury room can be even more insidious because juror deliberations are usually secret. Juror secrecy is generally a good thing, because it permits jurors to deliberate freely without being subjected to outside pressure or influence.
Every criminal prosecution is different, but every one of them starts the same: with the government filing a criminal complaint.
You don’t have to talk the police, and the police can’t force you to talk to them. This illustrates one of the bedrock principles of our criminal justice system: the government generally has to leave you alone.
You’re responsible for your own actions. Free will. Don’t worry … this isn’t the start of an esoteric philosophy lesson. This is the fundamental building block of the criminal justice system.
Can you be found guilty of possessing a stolen credit card in Washington after the card has been cancelled?
Sometimes, in the law, the “correct” legal decision ends up being the decision that simply makes logical sense.
For understandable reasons, the State punishes sex offenders severely. To see that you have to look no further than Washington’s sex offender registration laws. Sex offenders are required to register with the State and most sex offenders’ personal information is published online. Anyone with a computer can log into the Washington Sex Offender Registry database and find a sex offender’s name, offense, address, physical description, and a recent picture. Depending on the seriousness of their crime, sex offenders have to register for as many as 10 years after their release from jail or for the rest of their life.
Civil cases are about money. Criminal cases are about punishment. Usually, that is. Except when criminal cases are also about money. Sometimes, criminal cases are all about the money, like State v. Barbee, a Washington Supreme Court decided yesterday.
Under the Sixth Amendment, you have a constitutional right to represent yourself in a criminal case. But your constitutional right has limits--important limits.
If you’re charged with a crime in Washington (as in most states), you generally have two options: You can plead guilty, which means you give up your right to have a jury trial or a trial before a judge. Or you can exercise your right to a trial, forcing the State to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. But in some cases, you can actually do both.
In Washington, driving is considered a privilege, not a right. That probably seems odd to most people. No one really thinks of driving like going on a Hawaiian vacation, but under the law, that’s exactly how it’s treated. Something you that you earn, not something that you’re entitled. That’s why, if you’re arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in Washington, the Department of Licensing (DOL) will suspend your driver’s license immediately.
Most suspects don’t usually confess to serious crimes like attempted murder. David Morgan was no exception. That’s why Morgan—when he first spoke to police—didn’t admit to trying to murder his ex-wife by setting his own house on fire after she had come to over to pick up their child. But police didn’t need his confession. They had other damning evidence against him, including bloodstain pattern analysis of his clothing suggesting that he was in close proximity to his ex-wife when she suffered her injuries.
A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty, which means that we shouldn't put people in jail until they're found guilty. The State should put dangerous people in jail to protect the public. All Americans probably agree with one of those two statements and I bet that most Americans probably agree with both statements. So, when allegedly dangerous people are charged with crimes—before, obviously, they've been proven guilty—what do we do?
The American criminal justice system can be dizzyingly complex but a few simple rules underpin the whole system. The biggest one: a criminal defendant is presumed innocent and the government has to prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that the defendant does not have to prove innocence. The defendant could literally—and sometimes does literally—nothing the whole trial, and still wins Of course, most defendants do something in their own defense, but it may not involve testifying.