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Category: Presumption of Innocence

Ignorance of the Law IS a Defense? WHO KNEW?

Who knew?

I’m afraid I have some serious explaining to do. Some of my former clients are probably not happy with me right now. If they follow the news, they just learned that I gave them bad advice.

Until yesterday this Stanford Lawyer actually thought that ignorance of the law was NOT a defense!

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OJ Simpson Saved Lives! (Part II: Extreme Cases)

OJ Simpson Trials - Seattle Criminal Lawyer Blog

As we shall see, the O.J. Simpson criminal murder trial turned out to be a complete circus. From the “Dancing Ito’s” on Jay Leno to the wall-to-wall coverage of the ten million defense attorneys, all vying for attention in front of the cameras. It was a joke.

But the impact of the trial on the actual real world, the one off-camera away from L.A., was no joke. To this day I tell people that it changed the face of criminal law forever.

Gone were the days of Domestic Violence (DV) cases being dismissed just because the chief witness didn’t show up. You see, it used to be that when you had a DV case, literally half the time you got to trial and the complaining witness (or victim, depending on how you look at it) was a no-show. No witness, no case, no trial, case dismissed. Simple as that.

Enter Nicole, stage right, with her nearly decapitated head, a truly horrific image.


Tampering with Evidence Makes You Guilty…


Tampering with Evidence Makes You Guilty - Taser - Seattle Criminal Lawyer Blog

Tampering with Evidence Makes You Guilty… of Tampering with Evidence, not Murder.

This is, for now, the final installment of the sad saga of Officer Slager’s shooting of poor Mr. Walter Scott.

People are talking about how Slager must be guilty because he apparently planted the Taser next to Scott’s body. The one that he probably thought Mr. Scott had grabbed out of his hand, but which in fact had flown out behind Slager and hit the dirt after Scott appeared to grab it.

It seems that Slager picked up the Taser and dropped it next to Scott’s body. Looks very bad. But remember what I said in my prior post about how Slager might have believed that if Scott had grabbed his Taser it might create an argument that Slager was shooting him because he thought Scott was a fleeing felon who was armed and dangerous.

I say might because it is not exactly an easy argument to make. However, that does not mean that his lawyer should just give up and not make the best argument he can for his client. That is the every decent criminal defense attorney’s job, like it or not.

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Questions, Questions!

Questions about Courts and Criminal Defense - Seattle Criminal Lawyer Blog

People have been asking questions about the last few posts, and, of course, I can’t resist replying.

The first thing I heard were questions about how I represent people when I “know” they are guilty. The answer to that is both simple and complex, as usual.

The simple answer is that I make a point of not knowing if they are guilty. The complex answer takes a bit more explanation (see below).

A young lawyer said that clearly Slager was guilty, so what was my point? Fair enough. However, I have been doing this longer than this lawyer has been alive, even if he is in his thirties. Age and experience give you a certain perspective, which helps me answer both questions.

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Another False Accusation Bites the Dust

false accusation - Conor OberstWell, go figure. I really did not intend to focus so much on sex crimes right now, but things happen. Like the woman who has been defaming and falsely accusing one of my favorite young musician/songwriters, Conor Oberst (aka Bright Eyes), suddenly retracting her previous lies about the poor guy. (BTW, notice how the aka makes him sound like a criminal if you don’t know him? This is why prosecutors love to pile on the AKA’s when they file charges. It just sounds bad.)

Turns out, the woman was making stuff up. In her retraction, Joan Elizabeth Harris aka Joanie Faircloth states that she fabricated on-line accusations of being sexually assaulted by the musician ten years ago. The false accusation had been published in the comments section of an XO Jane article in December of 2013, where they quickly spread on Tumblr. But not before the lies had damaged his career.

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Drug Crimes and Federal Prosecutors in Western Washington, Seattle, and King County

Seattle, King County, Oak Harbor, Island County, Defense Attorney Discusses the Realities of Federal Prosecution of Drug Crimes.

Federal prosecutors and law enforcement dominate the prosecution of drug crimes. Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substance Indictments are their magic weapon in the war on drugs. Why? Simple: Mandatory Minimum Sentences. These draconian punishment tools are their stock in trade. Criminal defense attorneys, especially experienced criminal defense attorneys, have been accomplices in this miscarriage of justice, forced to play along with a system that treats due process and equal protection like annoying trifles. Here’s how it works…

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The Basic Requirements that Must Be Established Before a Breath Test MAY be Admissible in Seattle, King County, Oak Harbor, Island County, and Western Washington

Basic Admissibility Requirements for Breath Tests in Seattle, King County, Oak Harbor, Island County, Western Washington: Major law enforcement campaigns exist to enforce DUI laws.…

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Using the Law of Self-Defense to Defend Against No Contact Order Violations

Attack the No Contact Order Itself to Defend Against A No Contact Order Violation in Oak Harbor, Seattle, Whidbey Island

Courts issue no contact orders while criminal cases are pending. For example, former NBA player and Eastern Washington University coach Craig Ehlo had a no contact order issued which prohibited him from contacting his wife and kids this summer. It has become common place for courts to issue no contact orders where domestic violence allegations exist. However, because no contact orders are issued on a regular basis, and because they are common place, oftentimes legal issues may be overlooked by prosecutors, defense attorneys, and even the courts at times.

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Oak Harbor, Seattle, Whidbey Island DUI/DWI lawyer and/or Seattle, Oak Harbor, Island County Drunk Driving Attorney discusses the DUI Corpus Delicti Rule.

Many DUI cases arise after an motor vehicle accident. In such cases oftentimes no one, including the officer, witnesses the accused actually driving or behind the wheel. Consider, the case where an officer responds to a report of an accident, arrives on the scene, interviews a bystander (the officer concludes he is the driver immediately) found near the vehicle involved in the crash, sees the bystander uninjured, the bystander tells the officer that he was driving, the officer administered standardized field sobriety tests, and then the bystander is charged with DUI. There is no other conclusive evidence that person was driving aside from his incriminating statements.

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