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Bremerton Criminal Law Blog

How will you know if you are getting a fair trial?

After your arrest for drug offenses, violent crimes, theft or other charges, you may have had many questions about the criminal process you were about to face. Whether your charges came from the prosecutor's recommendation or a grand jury indictment, you may now be facing a criminal trial that could determine the course of your life for the foreseeable future.

You may understand that you have the right to a fair trial, but do you understand what that means? The Constitution does not explicitly name a fair trial as a right. In fact, the elements of a fair trial have evolved throughout the history of the criminal justice system. This is why it is wise to have a skilled and knowledgeable attorney on your side to ensure your trial proceeds without the violation of your rights.

Washington bail reform may offer hope to those facing charges

Following someone's arrest, it is not uncommon for that person to spend some time in jail before making a first appearance before a judge. This hearing, called an arraignment, is when the accused hears the charges prosecutors are filing and has the chance to enter a plea. The judge may then set bail.

Bail is money or valuables those facing criminal charges pay to the court as an assurance that they will return for trial. If they show up, they get their money back. If they do not, they lose their money and may face additional charges. However, you may be among the many who feel that the cash bail system in Washington is unfair. In some areas of the state, court systems are trying other methods.

DUI laws continue to evolve and get tougher

When you were taking classes to get your driver's license, you may have had to sit through hours of lectures and videos about the dangers of drunk driving. This part of the driving school curriculum is relatively new and just one example of the efforts from special interest groups and lawmakers who are striving to reduce the number of drunk driving tragedies.

While this is a noble effort, if police arrest you for drunk driving, you still have rights. Even a first offense DUI can carry stiff penalties, and you would benefit from a thorough understanding of your rights and guidance in choosing the most appropriate course of action to protect your future.

Did the police officer have probable cause to arrest you?

Perhaps you were driving to your destination minding your own business when the patrol car behind you turned on its lights and sirens warning you to pull over. You knew that you often drive mindlessly since you know the roads well, so you aren't sure what you did. Maybe you were speeding or forgot to signal as you changed lanes.

In any case, your thoughts then turned to the couple of drinks you had with friends before heading home. You never thought you weren't capable of driving safely, but you know that may not matter if the officer smells alcohol on your breath.

Did a police investigation result in you being a suspect?

Facing accusations of a crime can throw anyone's life off balance. You may wonder how you ended up in this situation and how authorities obtained supposed evidence that linked you with the crime. Typically, this information comes about during police investigations.

Though investigations are important in getting to the bottom of serious incidents, they are not perfect procedures. It is not uncommon for authorities to believe that evidence found at or near crime scenes points to one suspect, when it could actually have another meaning. Unfortunately, after finding a suspect, investigators do not always dig deeper.

Your future with a domestic violence charge

Your relationship with your spouse or partner has likely been tense for a while. Maybe you are even discussing divorce or accusations of infidelity have come up in one of your many arguments. Perhaps it was during one of those arguments that things got particularly heated. A neighbor called police, or your spouse, in a moment of vengeance, dialed 911 and reported that you were being abusive.

This one phone call set in motion a process that you may feel was quickly out of your control. When police arrived, you may have found yourself in handcuffs before you could get in a word of explanation. Your spouse may have even pleaded with the officers that it was a misunderstanding, but before you knew it, you were at a police station where an officer took your photo and fingerprints.

Commercial drivers have more on the line with a DUI charge

Driving a commercial vehicle is how you and many other people earn a living. You may enjoy your job because it allows you to travel and get out on the open road, which are two activities that likely bring you happiness. Of course, as a commercial truck or bus driver, the law holds you to a different standard, especially when it comes to drinking and driving.

In the event that an officer suspects that you have consumed alcohol before driving, you face the risk of a DUI charge. If convicted, this type of allegation will not only affect your personal life but also your professional life.

Legal drugs and a DUI charge

When you take a prescription medication, you may feel like you are following doctor's orders and sticking to a necessary treatment plan for your ailment. You may think only of the positive outcomes your medication will have and not negative consequences. In fact, you may not even consider the possibility that criminal charges could result from simply taking your medicine.

You may not believe you have done anything against the law because your doctor provided you with a valid prescription and instructions, which you followed exactly. However, if your medication causes side effects, even ones you consider minor, you could wind up charged with DUI if those side effects affect your driving ability.

Restoring your gun rights through expungement

Owning a gun is important to you, whether for hunting, for protection or simply as an exercise of your Second Amendment right to bear arms. You are well aware of the efforts many are going through to protect the rights of U.S. citizens to lawfully possess firearms. However, a recent criminal offense has cost you the right to own or buy a gun.

If you have a felony conviction or domestic violence charge, chances are authorities took your weapons. You probably have questions about how to get your rights restored or if it is even possible that you would ever lawfully own a weapon again.

Should you be answering questions in a DUI stop?

If you are like most people here in Port Orchard, seeing a police car behind you with lights and sirens causes a certain amount of anxiety in you. Even if you don't think you did anything wrong, you may start second guessing yourself, especially if you had a drink or two before driving.

When the officer approaches your vehicle, he or she may begin asking you questions. Other than basic identification information, you don't have to answer. Frankly, it's not your job to provide an officer with probable cause to arrest you. You do not have to be under arrest or read your Miranda rights before taking advantage of your right to remain silent.

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