Criminal Law in Washington
The bottom line of this article is that it’s imperative that you consult with a Washington criminal defense attorney if you or a loved one has been arrested for a Washington crime. Ask the bar association or friends for referrals or Google, “How to find a Washington Criminal Defense Attorney.” Do not hesitate.
In this article (which is based upon Washington criminal law), we’ll discuss:
- Washington specific criminal laws;
- What you need to know about criminal defense in Washington; and
- How to work with your Washington criminal defense attorney.
Your individual situation must be fully analyzed by a criminal defense lawyer to determine the best strategy for your best defense.
Washington Criminal Laws
Criminal law srepresent the thinking that certain actions or in actions are harmful to society and individuals. Laws are developed in an attempt to prevent that harm.
Washington criminal laws are found in the Washington Criminal Code. Examples of Washington crimes include burglary and trespass, defrauding a public utility, theft and robbery, money laundering, and public disturbance.
Ask your criminal defense attorney to explain the crime you are being charged with.
Statute of Limitations
Criminal charges must be brought within a certain period of time or be forever barred.
For example, in Washington, the statute of limitations for:
- Assault is 2 or 3 years, depending on the facts of the case. (Wash. Rev. Code В§9A.04.080(1)(h) or (i)).
- Kidnapping is 3 years. (Wash. Rev. Code В§9A.04.080(1)(h)).
- Robbery is 3 years. (Wash. Rev. Code В§9A.04.080(1)(h)).
Ask your criminal defense lawyer if the statute of limitations may be a complete defense in your particular case.
Punishments such as probation, counseling, educational training, community service, fines, restitution, jail, and capital punishment are used to deter future criminal behavior, provide restitution to society and victims, protect society, and encourage rehabilitation.
Although judges often have discretion, Washington has sentencing guidelines that provide standard punishments in an attempt to encourage uniformity in sentencing.
- A misdemeanor is punishable with up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine up to $1,000.
- A gross misdemeanor is punishable with more than 90 days in jail but less than one year in jail and/or up to a $5,000 fine.
- Felonies are punishable with fines, more than a year in jail, or even the death penalty. The more serious the felony, the stronger the punishment.
An experienced Washington criminal defense attorney will let you know the potential criminal sentence in your case.
What You Need to Know About Criminal Defense
Your life, liberty, and money may be at risk. Being arrested will affect your job, family, friends, and financial life.
- Attorneys are not all the same. You need a qualified Washington criminal defense lawyer, immediately.
- What you say to your attorney is confidential. You need to be completely honest and open with your attorney.
- What you say can and will be used against you. Do not make a statement to police, other than to ask for an attorney.
How to Work with a Washington Criminal Defense Lawyer
Your defense depends upon your cooperation and good sense.
- You’re paying for legal advice. Take it. Your attorney knows better than you do.
- Even if you think something will make you look bad, disclose it.
- Return your lawyer’s phone calls promptly.
- Provide all requested information in a timely manner.
- If your phone number or address changes, update your attorney immediately.
- Your attorney may ask you hard questions or make you angry. This is normal and okay.
- Your attorney will likely be polite and cooperative with police officers, alleged victims, investigators, and the prosecutor. This is normal and okay.
Bottom Line: Your criminal defense lawyer understands the Washington Criminal Code, the criminal charges against you, how to negotiate with prosecutors, how to communicate with the judge and jury, and how to best put forward a strong and strategic defense. Call for legal representation.