Should I Bail Out Immediately? Call a Criminal Defense Attorney First.

November 13, 2014 criminal attorney bail bonds

criminal attorney bail bonds

When someone is arrested, their first inclination is usually to figure out how to get out of jail as quickly as possible.  This is perfectly natural.  JAIL SUCKS.  It is scary.  It is cold.  It is hard.  The food is terrible.  It is designed to be as uncomfortable as possible.  You are supposed to want to get out!

However, what you decide to do after your arrest is an extremely important decision that should not be made without a serious amount of careful thought.

SHOULD I CALL A BAIL BONDSMAN?

Again, people’s first inclination is try and get out immediately.  The logical step is to call the first bail bondsman they can find.  I CAUTION AGAINST THIS.

The most important, and very first thing you should do is call your criminal defense attorney.  

Whether or not to post bail is a decision that should be made with the assistance of an attorney who knows both the bail process and the court process, in that particular jurisdiction.  This is especially important at the beginning of a case. There are factors that go into deciding if it is best for you to spend the money on posting a bail, or not.

HOW THE BAIL PROCESS WORKS

Say you are arrested in downtown Seattle in King County.  Depending on the nature of the arrest, you will likely be taken to the downtown jail where you will be processed and booked into jail.  At this time, again depending on the type of crime for which you are arrested, a bail might be set.  Say the bail is set at $100,000.  You can get a bonds company to bail you out usually at a cost of 10% of the bail; therefore, in the above example you would be paying $10,000 to get out.  THIS IS MONEY YOU WILL NOT GET BACK.

YOU MIGHT NOT NEED TO BAIL OUT

  • The fact of the matter is that you might not even need to bail out.  YOU MIGHT GET OUT FOR FREE.  This can happen in a number of ways.  After being booked into jail, you would be given a first appearance court hearing within 48 hours of being booked.  In King County, they usually give you a first appearance the day after your arrest, or sometimes even the same day depending on the time you were arrested.
  • The first appearance is a hearing that takes place at the jail and is definitely something that you want to have your criminal defense attorney at.  Many times your attorney will discover that the State (i.e. the prosecution) has not actually filed charges yet.  As a result, they may let you go right there or they might keep you there and set a second appearance date.  Again, this has to happen within a very short period of time.  In King County, it is usually set the day after or two days after your initial appearance.  This extra time gives the prosecution a better chance to look at your case and decide whether they are going to immediately (or “rush”) file your case.  If they don’t, guess what? You get out for free.
  • If charges have been filed against you by the time of the second appearance, your criminal defense attorney may be able to get you released on your “personal recognizance”.  This is basically a promise that you won’t get into trouble pending your next court date and that you will show up to court when told to do so.  The factors that go into this kind of decision are 1) your danger to the community; and 2) your risk of flight.  I always argue as many points as possible to urge the judge that you pose little risk in each of these categories.  Again, this is where an experienced criminal defense attorney is important.
  • If you call me early enough, in certain cases I can meet with the prosecutor and convince them not to file charges.  This is not always the case, but it can happen.  When a person is arrested it doesn’t always mean that they should have been.

YOUR BAIL CAN GO UP OR DOWN

After your initial bail amount is set, the amount can change when charges are filed.  After more evidence is gathered by the police and the prosecution and is presented to the court, the judge can decide to either increase or decrease your bail.  This is based on the arguments of your attorney, as well as those of the prosecution.

If you have already posted bail, and then your bail amount is decreased or eliminated entirely after going to court with your attorney, YOU DO NOT GET THE BOND FEE BACK.

CALL A CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY

It is very important that you consult your criminal defense attorney before deciding whether to post bail or not.  I always go over the risks and benefits of posting bail with my clients.  This has to be done very carefully and on a case by case basis.  Depending on your arrest I know which courts are likely to release you with your promise to return to court and which are not.  I also understand which cases are likely to get filed immediately, down the road, or not at all.

As you can see, this initial decision in your case isn’t just as simple as “I want to get out now.”  It is a very important and complicated one that needs to be made with the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.  It really can be a life-altering decision.


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“But the Cocaine Wasn’t Mine!”

November 7, 2014 criminal lawyer cocaine charge

criminal lawyer cocaine charge

Imagine the following: You are just getting back into town from a much needed vacation.  Your brother picks you up from the airport in your car.  The reason for this is that you, being the amazing sibling that you are, let your brother borrow your car for the week while you were out of town.

The next morning as you are headed to work you are pulled over for not using a turn signal properly.  The officer approaches, you roll down your window, and the officer tells you the reason for the stop.  As he is walking back to his car he shines his flashlight in the back of your car (as he is trained to do) and he spots a little white ball of powder wrapped in cellophane sitting on your back seat.

Thanks to your brother leaving his drugs in your car, you don’t end up going to work that morning.  You end up sitting in jail being investigated for a drug crime.

But It Wasn’t Mine

I know, I know . . . by now you are thinking that this is simple.  All my brother needs to do is show up to court and say that it was his.  IT ISN’T THAT SIMPLE.

I get questions similar to the above situation all the time.  It doesn’t always pertain to drugs.  Sometimes it is a gun, or drug paraphernalia (weed pipe for instance).  The common theme is always that IT WASN’T MINE, SOMEONE ELSE WILL TAKE THE FALL, and won’t that just make the case go away?

The short answer is: NO.

In a case like above, the officer is going to investigate it as if you are the owner of the drugs since you were both the owner of the car and you were driving the car.  You are almost certainly going to be charged with felony possession of cocaine.  In Washington State, it would be called a Violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act (or VUCSA).

Once you are charged with a crime, whether you are actually guilty or not, it is difficult to undo.  You are now in the court system and you have to make your way through it.  This can be a very long and extremely stressful process.

The first problem for you is that whether you meant to be or not, you seem to have actually been in possession of the cocaine. The next problem for both you and your brother is how to go about dealing with it. Is he really going to to want to take the blame?  Maybe he has a criminal history which makes this a much more serious offense and could land him in jail for a long time. On the other hand, he could write a declaration swearing that it was his, but that might not be enough.

What Should You Do?

The first answer is to remain silent.  This is the most important thing you can do at the beginning of the case.  You can very unwittingly make the overall case much more difficult for your attorney by speaking without their presence when questioned by the police.  DON’T TRY AND EXPLAIN AWAY THE SITUATION.  Just be patient.

The second thing you will want to do is get an experienced attorney who will fight this for you.  This is where strategy and experience come into play.

What Would I Do As Your Attorney?

The first thing I would do is to advise your brother to seek the advice of an attorney of his own.  This is the ethical and necessary thing for me to do.

If your brother does decide to fall on the sword – great, but even this would need to be done very carefully.  His lawyer would fashion it in the best way possible for him.  And like I said above, this still might not be enough.

The next thing I would focus on is pushing the prosecution to prove that you actually “possessed” the drugs.  While this can sound like fancy lawyer talk, it is very important.  If you didn’t possess the drugs, you didn’t commit the crime.

They are going to argue that it was in your car, and therefore you possessed it.  I am going to answer that you in no way possessed it because it wasn’t on you.  It wasn’t in your pocket.  It wasn’t in your hand.  It wasn’t on your lap.  It wasn’t even near you.

I would also start GATHERING NEW EVIDENCE.  Evidence that is going to help you.  The prosecution is only going to have stuff that makes you look bad.  For example, I would get copies of your flight itinerary and your airline tickets showing that you just returned to town last night; therefore, presumably hadn’t been driving your car.

Also, fingerprints or lack thereof on the package could help you.  If no fingerprints were taken (as they often are not), I would be asking WHY NOT?  It is certainly something that a jury would like to know about.

These little issues would start to be the building blocks that continue to mount to a winning case for you.

While I wish it was just as easy as having your brother show up to court and say that it was his cocaine, as you can now see, it isn’t.  Get yourself an attorney that is going to not only fight diligently for you, but be your mouthpiece and win your case.

Arrested? Call Us Today at 206.973.0407.

My job is to help you get out of trouble.  And I am very good at my job.

If you want my help, just call 206.973.0407 anytime day or night and we’ll set up a time for you to come in and talk to me about your case.  The consultation is always free, and I’ll let you know what I think about your case and see if I’m the right criminal defense attorney to help you out.

Stryder J. Wegener is the author of this article, the co-founder of Emerald City Law Group, and a damn good criminal defense attorney.


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Don’t Talk to the Police.

October 24, 2014 seattle criminal attorney advice

seattle criminal attorney advice
Imagine this: It is 9 o’clock at night, and you are driving home from dinner. You don’t realize it, but one of your taillights has gone out. Just as you are exiting the freeway to go home, you see flashing lights in your rear-view mirror. Being the good and responsible driver you are you pull to the shoulder and turn off your car. 

Mr. police officer approaches you and gives you the reason for the stop (i.e. taillight out). He asks you where you are coming from, and you say dinner. He asks you if you have had anything to drink at dinner, and you being the honest citizen you are, say that you had a glass of wine with your steak. 

Guess what? You just arguably gave that police officer enough to ask you to exit the car and start doing some field sobriety tests.
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Can the Cops Send Me a Criminal Citation in the Mail?

October 15, 2014 criminal defense lawyer summons

criminal defense lawyer summonsImagine this.  It’s a normal Tuesday.  You go to work like you normally do, talk to the same people you normally do, and then head home like you normally do.  Once you get home, just like you do every day, you check your mail.

But this time something is different.

This time mixed in with the credit card offers and the mailers from real estate agents is something from King County District Court.  You think maybe it’s a jury summons or something and groan as you open it.

But it’s not a jury summons.  It’s something much worse than that.

It’s a notice to appear in criminal court.  This is your notice that you’ve been charged with a crime.

Wait a minute, you’re thinking.  How could I be charged with a crime?  I have not even seen a cop since I got that speeding ticket 5 years ago.  This must be a mistake.

Can the Cops Send Me a Criminal Citation in the Mail?

Many times clients call or come into my office and are surprised and taken aback because they either never had an encounter with a police officer at all, or had one and were let go without being cited for anything.  Then weeks or even months later they receive an envelope in the mail directing them to appear at a court house for an arraignment on a criminal charge they had no idea existed.

Their frustration and confusion is understandable.  Quite frankly, I would be asking the same question. Can they really do this?

Contrary to what you might think, the answer is actually yes.

How Can Cops Charge You with a Crime by Mail?

With traffic infractions, even criminal ones like Reckless Driving, Reckless Endangerment, Negligent Driving, or Hit and Run it is possible to receive a citation in the mail for something that you had not previously been charged with, or were not expecting to be charged with.

Many times an officer will write a report and issue a citation for something they witnessed, or in certain instances for something reported to them by witnesses that they did not witness themselves.

For example, let’s say a police officer is called to the scene of a car accident.  Various people are on the scene and they report that a person driving a certain type of car was speeding, cut off the car that is involved in the accident, and then kept driving, leaving a car accident in their wake.  Afterwards the officer takes reports from the witnesses and they attempt to find the driver of the car that left the scene.  They are unable to find the driver of the car, but they do have a license plate number.

After compiling the witness statements and adding them to their report, they send that report to the prosecuting attorney’s office that is in charge of filing charges in a case like this.

The prosecutor looks at the report and feels there is enough to charge the driver of the missing car, even though that driver has had no contact whatsoever with the police.  A couple of weeks later the owner of that missing car receives a Notice of Court Date in the mail.  Show up, or a warrant will be issued.  The case has now begun.

You May be Thinking this is Unfair. You are Right.

This is not a fair way to do things, but at times this is how our criminal justice system works.  Often the police and the prosecutors are content to charge something and figure it out later if they think there is even a chance you did something wrong.

Using the above example, let’s assume the officer had at least an independent corroboration of what took place (perhaps a paint mark on the car that matches that of the driver’s car, or a witness statement describing the driver as someone that matches the description of the owner, etc.).  The chance is high the driver is going to get charged with something.

You’d like to think that in order to file charges against a person, at least ethically and in theory, the prosecuting attorney’s case would be fairly strong against that person.  After all, this person’s liberty, both personally and financially, are at stake.  Well, it’s often not.

What Can You do if this Happens to You?

Like I mentioned above, if it happens to you you’ve got to go to court and sort it out.  If you don’t show up to court a warrant will be issued for your arrest.  And that’s something you don’t want.

To beat this charge you’re going to need the help of a criminal defense lawyer.  Their job (our job) is to attack your case with fierce tenacity.

And that’s exactly what I do.

I turn little holes in to great big gaping ones.  In a case like the example above, it would be difficult to establish that the person alleged to have been driving the missing car was actually driving that car at all; and that is exactly where I would begin.

Arrested? Call Us Today at 206.973.0407.

My job is to help you get out of trouble.  And I am very good at my job.

If you want my help, just call 206.973.0407 anytime day or night and we’ll set up a time for you to come in and talk to me about your case.  The consultation is always free, and I’ll let you know what I think about your case and see if I’m the right criminal defense attorney to help you out.

Stryder J. Wegener is the author of this article, the co-founder of Emerald City Law Group, and a damn good criminal defense attorney.


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Seattle Criminal Lawyer Super Bowl Tips

January 30, 2014 Seattle criminal attorney Super Bowl tips
http://traffic.libsyn.com/duiguy/Super_Bowl.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | Embed The Super Bowl is upon us, and once again, the Seattle Seahawks are one game away from claiming their first Super Bowl Championship. Although this is my first experience living in a city with world championship possibilities (I’m from Kansas), I’ve seen enough celebrations (and letdowns) […]
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Don’t Talk to the Cops – Ever

December 9, 2013
As criminal lawyers we are often asked at parties, at lunches, on the golf course, and anywhere else we meet people what the best piece of advice we can give if we just have to give one. You can probably guess by the title of the blog post what that piece of advice is: don’t […]
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Ask a Criminal Lawyer: A Conversation with Jackie & Bender KISS 106.1 FM

December 5, 2013 13-12-05-jb-radio-show
http://traffic.libsyn.com/criminalattorney/Ask_a_Lawyer.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedJackie & Bender’s Ask a Lawyer You know you’ve reached great heights as a criminal lawyer when someone on the radio wants to speak to you. That happened today for Stryder Wegener, my business partner, and myself. We were asked to appear on a morning radio show […]
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Seattle Criminal Lawyer Explains Constructive Drug Possession

October 17, 2013
http://traffic.libsyn.com/criminalattorney/ECCD_002.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedBy: Christopher Small Arrested and charged for drug possession just because you were in a car or house were drugs were found? Find out how that can happen and what you can do about it here. [leadplayer_vid id=”52604FFDD2393″] Highlights: 00:24 – How most of our clients with […]
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Exposing the Myth of Beating an Assault Charge with a Recanting Victim

October 11, 2013
http://traffic.libsyn.com/criminalattorney/ECCD_001.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedBy: Christopher Small In this first episode of the podcast I talk expose the myth of beating an assault charge when the victim recants (or at least expose that it’s not as easy as one thinks). [leadplayer_vid id=”52588A650A64C”] Highlights: 00:25 – What the prosecutor has to prove […]
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