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Domestic Violence Allegations-What You Need to Know

Posted Wednesday, September 12, 2018 by Andrew Charles Huff

I deal with cases involving allegations of domestic violence on a regular basis and I have seen first-hand the harm caused by violence against others. At the same time, I have also witnessed completely innocent behavior elevated to a crime by false allegations.

In any case involving domestic violence, there are always the potential results such as separation, divorce and custody proceedings as one spouse may use an allegation of domestic violence to gain a legal advantage. In this situation, you need an experienced domestic violence attorney to help you.

*What exactly is DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?*Potentially, any crime committed by one “family or household member” against someone in the same family or household could potentially constitute domestic violence. Some examples are assault, false imprisonment, property damage, reckless endangerment, stalking, and violating protection orders. As expected, Washington courts take allegations very seriously when the label of “domestic violence” is attached and the penalties can be more serious.

*Who is considered “family or household members?*Washington state law considers a family or household member to be:

  1. Adults related by marriage or blood
  2. Ex-spouses
  3. A child’s parents
  4. Persons 16 years of age or older who reside together or who previously resided together
  5. Persons 16 years of age or older who have or have had a dating relationship
  6. Persons with a biological or legal parent-child relationship (grandparents and stepparents)

When a report is made of a domestic violence allegation, responding police officers must arrest a suspect if that officer believes a domestic violence crime has been committed. Additionally, officers must arrest a person suspected of violating a “no contact” order.

Penalties for Domestic Violence**Domestic violence crimes in the state of Washington can be either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the offense. For all misdemeanor convictions, the penalties include a maximum 90 day in jail sentence and a $1,000 fine. A “gross misdemeanor” is punishable with up to 365 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. Finally, a felony domestic violence conviction can carry more than a year in jail. Additionally, anyone who is convicted of assault as a crime of domestic violence may not own a firearm or obtain a concealed weapons permit in this state. Violating this provision constitutes a felony.

*Can the victim “drop” a domestic violence charge?*This notion of a victim successfully requesting any charges be dropped is false. Once charges are filed, the only person who can “drop” the charge is the prosecutor. Instead, the case can still proceed even if the victim declines to testify or cooperate depending on other evidence.

Fighting a Domestic Violence Charge

In any criminal charge, prosecutors must prove beyond any reasonable doubt the defendant’s guilt. In a case that many times depends on the testimony of the victim, this burden of proof isn’t always easy to meet, especially if the victim does not wish to cooperate with the prosecutor. A good defense attorney can discredit a phony accusation or in some cases might claim self-defense – or that you were defending yourself or personal property – as your defense strategy. After reviewing the details of the charge against you, I will work to develop a defense that is both appropriate and effective. If you are innocent, we will fight the charge and potentially seek a dismissal.

If you are accused of Domestic Violence…

Do not contact or confront your accuser in any form. Any type of contact can potentially be used against you.

Do not post your thoughts about the case on any type of social media, such as Twitter or Facebook. While this might be tempting, anything you post could be distorted and used against you.

Think of witnesses who will vouch for your character and testify on your behalf about specific accusations.

Call my office immediately and let’s get started on your case.

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Ignition Interlock Devices-When Are They Required?

Posted Friday, September 7, 2018 by Andrew Charles Huff

If you have been arrested for a DUI in Washington for the first time, you are probably trying to educate yourself on an area of the law that is probably new to you. You are probably discovering that an arrest for DUI can be a very expensive and time consuming problem to have to deal with.

One potential consequence of a DUI arrest or conviction is the court’s use of ignition interlock devices. There are several scenarios where either the court or the Department of Licensing will require that you not drive a vehicle without a functioning Ignition Interlock Device (IID). One of the new requirements for an IID is that it must be equipped with a camera to verify who the person providing a breath of air into the device.

Here are the situations in which you might be required to have an Ignition Interlock device:

  1. Pretrial Release: At a first appearance before a judge, the court has the authority to require you to have an IID while your case is pending as a condition of your release, similar to imposing bail.

  2. Prior DUI Charge: If you are charged with a DUI and had faced a previous charge within seven years, the court will require that you have an IID in your vehicle while your case is pending.

  3. DUI Conviction: The current law requires that you have an IID in your car for a minimum of a year following a DUI conviction or guilty plea.

  4. Deferred Prosecution: A person who seeks a two-year treatment option called a deferred prosecution is also required to maintain a functioning IID for a minimum of one year.

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Traffic Tickets-You Can Protect Your Record and Insurance Rates

Posted Friday, August 24, 2018 by Andrew Charles Huff

It’s never a pleasant experience driving along and suddenly seeing those flashing lights in your rearview mirror. Many people look at their speedometer and realize either they were indeed over the speed limit or that they that were not speeding. Whether it’s a speeding violation, improper turn, HOV violation or any other traffic ticket, you can keep these off your driving record and protect your insurance rates.

WAC 308.104.160 designates specific tickets as either “moving” or “non-moving” violations. A “moving” violation generally occurs whenever a traffic law is violated by a vehicle in motion. Some examples of moving violations are speeding, running a stop sign or red light or failing to signal. A “non-moving” violation by contrast is usually related to parking or faulty equipment, among other things. Typically, “moving” violations affect a person’s insurance and driving privilege, whereas non-moving violations typically have no such effect.

If you do see those flashing lights in your mirror, pull over immediately and have your license, registration and insurance ready for the officer. Be polite but speak as little as possible as any statements can be reflected in his or her report. Also, remember that most officers won’t accept the “everyone else was speeding too” explanation as, while understandable is not a defense and is actually an admission.

If you are given a ticket, check the “Contested Hearing” box and mail it back to the court within 15 days after making a copy of the front of the ticket.

A “Contested Hearing” will then be scheduled and if you retain me, you do not have to appear in court, as I can appear for you. The high majority of the time, I will be able to keep the ticket off your record either with a straight dismissal, which is preferred obviously or an amendment to a “non-moving” violation that won’t appear on your record.

Call me directly at 206-729-3477 and let’s discuss your case.

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The Draeger Alcotest 9510 Breath Machines Are Here!

Posted Thursday, August 23, 2018 by Andrew Charles Huff

Washington State recently rolled out the new breath test machine to be used in DUI cases called the Alcotest 9510, manufactured by a German company called Dräger Industries. The Washington State Patrol replaced its aging fleet of DataMaster and DataMaster CDM breath test machines which have been in service since 1984.

The Alcotest 9510 measures a DUI suspect’s breath alcohol content by actually taking two separate breath samples from each suspect, then sending those samples one at a time through the machine’s two testing chambers. The first chamber analyzes alcohol contained in the breath sample by using a chemical reaction from an electrochemical cell (referred to as the EC result). Next the machine sends the same breath sample into a second chamber where it is tested using infrared lights called infrared spectroscopy (referred to as the IR result). Once IR result is completed the machine purges itself of the air sample and gets ready for the second breath sample from the suspect. The result is actually four readings – 2 EC results and 2 IR results.

For the machine to provide a successful final BAC result, all four readings must be within a certain tolerance of one another to be considered a “true” reading. This is done by plugging the numbers into an algorithm created by the manufacturer. However, Washington State Law gives the defendant the benefit of the doubt by taking the lowest of the 4 readings and rounding down to the second decimal place.

Additional breath testing requirements to receive an acceptable breath sample include minimum air volume and blowing duration. So if the air sample is too small the machine cannot test it.

Also, the mouth piece must be changed between each breath to minimize the effects of any residual alcohol. There must also be a two-minute lock out between each breath sample to ensure the machine has enough time to purge the last breath sample before taking a new one.

The police officer must also observe the suspect for 15 minutes prior to blowing into the machine as well making sure all radio devices, including cell phones are removed from the testing room.

Call my office for more information on the Alcotest 9510 or other questions you might have.

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If stopped by police, here's what to do...and not do

Posted Friday, August 10, 2018 by Andrew Charles Huff

As a criminal and DUI defense attorney, I am often asked what to do if stopped by a police officer and you have been drinking alcohol. My standard advice is this:

1. Don’t Talk. You have a right to remain silent – take advantage of it. Do not attempt to convince the officer of your innocence. Most times, when people speak to officers they say something that makes their situation far worse. Speak as little as possible. There will be plenty of time to talk later.

2. Don’t Run. If you run or try and evade the officer, not only could there be additional charges, but if the case goes to trial, this could lead to evidence showing “consciousness of guilt” whereby the Jury is told basically “guilty people run, innocent people don’t”.

3. Never Resist Arrest. Perhaps the most important thing not to do is touch the police officer at all! Follow what the officer says.

4. No Searching. Do not allow the police to search anywhere! If the police officer asks, they do not have the right to search and must have your consent. If you are asked make sure you are clear when you state to police “You (the police) do not have consent to search.” If they perform the search anyway, that evidence may be thrown out later. Also, if you consent to a search, the officers may find something that you had no idea you or someone else had placed there.

5. Don’t Look At Places Where You Don’t Want Police to Search. Police are trained to watch you and react to you. They know that you are nervous and scared and many people look to the areas that they don’t want the police to search. Do not react to the search and do not answer any questions.

6. Do Not Talk Smack to the Police. It doesn’t matter if you have been wrongly arrested. Don’t talk smack! Police have a lot of discretion in the upcoming charges brought and how it all develops in the system. Police can add charges, change a misdemeanor to a felony, and will even talk to the prosecutor that is ultimately prosecuting you.

7. If Police Come to Your Home, Do not Let Them In and Do Not Step Outside Your Home If the police show up at your door and want inside, make it clear to them by stating: “No you may not come in”, or “I am comfortable talking right here”, or “You need a search warrant to enter my home.”

*8. If You Are Outside Your Home and Arrested, Do Not Accept an Offer to Go Back In Your Home for Anything. *The officer may say to you, how about you go inside and change, freshen up, talk to your wife, husband, get a jacket, or provide you with any other reason. The police will graciously escort you in and then tear your home apart searching through it.

*9. Don’t say a word. *Its’ incredible how many people feel that they can convince the officer, the booking officer or a detective (if your case reaches that stature) that they are not guilty. YOUR CASE IS NOT DECIDED BY THESE PEOPLE. They have no effect on guilty or not guilty. Wait to speak to your lawyer! The courts and juries in particular give enormous weight to “confessions” during this stage.

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