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Removing a Prior Conviction? Yes You Can

Posted Wednesday, June 21, 2017 by Andrew Charles Huff

Many people have contacted me over the years wondering if a prior conviction on their record can be removed. Many have faced potential employment or other issues when a background check reveals a prior criminal conviction. Fortunately, Washington state law allows such “post-conviction relief” for some offenses so certain convictions can be removed or “vacated” from your record.

Certain felonies can be vacated but also misdemeanor offenses. To be eligible to have a misdemeanor vacated, a person must have no new pending criminal cases; must have three years without any new offenses; and the offense being vacated is not a violent offense, a DUI or sex offense.

I’ve had clients contact me about vacating convictions for Reckless Driving, Shoplifting, Driving with a Suspended License, Negligent Driving…all of which can be vacated.

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Subpoena or Not Subpoena the Officer?

Posted Friday, June 16, 2017 by Andrew Charles Huff

In my years of fighting traffic tickets, the most frequent question I am asked is, “Are you going to subpoena the officer to appear in court?” The reason is of course is that if the officer fails to appear at the hearing, the ticket is dismissed by default. While this is true, I’ve found that more and more police departments are making it a priority to ensure officers appear at traffic hearing when under subpoena. In fact, in speaking with various officers they have told me appearing at traffic hearings now takes priority over regular duty and they must provide an explanation to superiors if they do not appear in court.

So whether under subpoena or not, the court rules allow the judge hearing the case to read the officers written report and consider all other documents provided in the case so the officer does not have to appear. Infraction rule 3.3(c) authorizes the court to consider these documents in lieu of the officer’s appearance unless they are under subpoena.

However, the high majority of the time, we are able to find problems with the officer’s report or other evidence presented in the case that normally lead to a favorable resolution. Having the officer personally appear and provide additional testimony can ruin those chances and therefore we normally do not want the officer to appear in court.

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State Court Finds Complete Defense Includes Expert Witness

Posted Wednesday, June 7, 2017 by Andrew Charles Huff

A defendant has a right to present a complete defense, which includes obtaining an expert witness at trial, held Washington Court-Division II.

Christopher Lyons was charged with second degree assault. A competency evaluation found that Lyons suffered from significant delusions surrounding the charges against him and that he was incapable of assisting with his defense.

But Lyons disagreed and argued that the trial court violated his right to present a complete defense by denying him the ability to present a defense expert, a qualified medical expert who was able to testify on his behalf.

The Court agreed with Lyons and ruled that a defendant has a due process right to present a complete defense. In some cases, this right to present a complete defense includes obtaining an expert at trial.

Jun. 6, 2017 - 47231-7 - State Of Washington, Respondent V Christopher Lyons

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Tiger Woods' DUI Arrest-No Alcohol...And He's Not Alone

Posted Friday, June 2, 2017 by Andrew Charles Huff

Most of us have watched Tiger Woods’ enormously successful golf career over the years, as he confidently marched down the course, smashing records and winning events in front of fans and massive television audiences.

But the legendary golfer ran smack into a roadblock when video just released showed the world’s former No. 1 golfer in a DUI investigation struggling to stand, walk and speak coherently as police officers looked on. In video from Florida’s Jupiter Police Department, Woods stumbles through field sobriety tests, wobbles on the side of the road and at times appears confused about officers’ commands. He was soon placed under arrest for Driving Under the Influence.

Woods told officers he did not drink, but took several prescription medications, according to a police report. He took a Breathalyzer test, registering 0.000 on it both times, and a urine test, records show. And with that, Woods has become the most high-profile example of a worrisome nationwide trend: Drugged driving is on the rise, and for the first time ever, people involved in fatal crashes are more likely to have drugs than alcohol in their systems.

A report published this April by the Governors Highway Safety Association and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility found that both illegal and prescription drugs are found in the bodies of fatally-injured drivers—a good source of data, since they are tested more often than drivers in non-fatal crashes—about 43 percent of the time. Alcohol above the legal limit, meanwhile, was found in just 37 percent of the drivers.

The number of people driving under the influence of prescription drugs has increased in recent years. A just-released study found that 20 percent of drivers had used a prescription drug in the past two days—mostly sedatives, antidepressants, and painkillers. We are also seeing a rise in marijuana use in a DUI-context and is slowly becoming the most common drugs used by drivers.

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Washington BUI: Boating Under the Influence

Posted Wednesday, May 17, 2017 by Andrew Charles Huff

Boating season is here and crafts of all shapes and sizes are appearing on our waterways. The season also inevitably brings Boating Under the Influence (BUI) arrests, a common charge in Washington over the summer months. Unlike Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charges, there are currently no licensing consequences no mandatory jail. However, this is still a criminal misdemeanor and an alcohol offense. Therefore, jail and/or alcohol treatment are potential outcomes in case of a conviction.

The elements of BUI in Washington are similar to that of Driving Under the Influence charge. It is a “per se” violation if you are operating a vessel and have a BAC of .08 or a THC concentration above 5. If neither breath nor blood tests are available, the prosecutor can still prove a violation by showing you were “appreciably affected” by alcohol or drugs (or combination of the two) at the time you were operating the vessel. Additionally, the BUI statute is also implicated if one is accused of operating the vessel recklessly, whether or not alcohol or drugs are involved.

In a more recent section to the law, a person’s refusal to submit to a test of the alcohol concentration, THC concentration, or presence of any drug in the person’s blood or breath now constitutes a class 1 civil infraction under RCW 7.80.120.Boating Under the Influence: RCW 79A.60.040 / Reckless Boating: RCW 79A.60.040

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