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Miranda Rights The Common Misconceptions

October 28, 2015

What Are Miranda Rights?

Simply stated, Miranda Rights or Miranda Warnings are the right to silence that a person must be given by the police when they become a criminal suspect and are placed into police custody.  The purpose of the warnings is to protect the statements that a person makes while being interrogated, that may be used against them in the criminal prosecution of their case.

The four specific rights that law enforcement must convey to a suspect in custody are:

  1.  You have the right to remain silent.
  2. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
  3. You have the right to an attorney.
  4. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.

Why Do We Have These Rights?

The right against self-incrimination is afforded to us by the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.  The right to an attorney is similarly afforded to us by the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution.  The problem is that just because we have these fundamental rights it doesn’t mean that everyone knows about them.  In the Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona, the Supreme court held that admission of incriminating statements elicited by law enforcement from a suspect in their custody who is NOT INFORMED OF THESE RIGHTS violates both the Fifth and Sixth Amendments.  Hence the formation of Miranda Rights.

Misconceptions About Miranda Rights

Most people are under the misconception that Miranda Rights must be read to you when you are arrested.  This is not true.  Failure to have you rights read to you during an arrest does not invalidate the arrest.

Rather, these rights must be conveyed to you only if you are in police custody and if the police intend to question you about why you are under arrest in order to elicit incriminating statements from you.  In other words if the police catch you doing something, don’t feel they need to question you any further because they already have enough evidence against you, then they can just arrest you and go forward with the case based on what they have.

An example of this would be any case where the police obtain evidence of intoxication for the purpose of establishing that you were under the influence when you were driving your car.  This could be a DUI case, a vehicular assault case, etc.  Typically the police in these cases work to obtain evidence of you intoxication through field sobriety tests, breathalyzer tests, and blood draws.  If they obtain enough against you through any or all of these methods then they can proceed without asking you any questions that might incriminate you.

Note that typically you are given your Miranda rights in all cases once taken into custody.  This was only meant as an example to illustrate my point.

Once you are taken back to the police station and they begin to question you about the incident, that is when they must advise you of your Miranda Rights.  If not, anything that they elicit from you should not be able to be used against you in court.

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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Exposing The Myth: Public Defender vs. Private Attorney

October 22, 2015

criminal lawyer case dismissed

What I Love About Being A Private Defense Attorney

Being a criminal defense attorney is challenging, interesting, difficult at times, fun, and rewarding all wrapped up into one.  I have really been fortunate enough to find my niche in this game.  I love it.  My path has led me to the “private” defense bar.  This is perfect for me for many reasons.  I get to co-own my own law firm.  I get to help those who work with me learn and progress based on the knowledge I have acquired (this might actually be my favorite part of this all).

I also get to spend as much time and effort as is needed on each of my individual clients’ cases.  This is possible because I control my own caseload, get to choose my clients to some extent based on our fit with one another, and have the resources to spend as much time and investigation as necessary on any given case.  To me, this is what it’s all about.

The Public Defense Reality

However, there are many amazing defense attorneys who don’t choose the “private counsel” path of criminal defense.  These are called public defenders.  I have an amazing respect for what they do, and I always inform people who even begin to question their veracity the truth about their work.  I have many colleagues whom I respect greatly that are public defenders.  I learn from them, they learn from me, and they work incredibly diligently at their job.

The article I am going to share with you today is quite interesting for many reasons.  It discusses the politics of Seattle Municipal Court, where I spend a ton of time and of which I have formed many opinions of my own.  It also gives you a glimpse into the day of a public defender.  Lastly, it features an extremely dedicated and ground breaking attorney who recently passed away that any member of the criminal defense community in Seattle (private or public) will literally brag about having known.

If you have a moment please take a look here.

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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Thousands of Federal Prisoners To Be Set Free

October 14, 2015

Let’s Get Tough: The War On Drugs

The United States has historically been one of the most punitive countries when it comes to prison sentences for non-violent, drug crimes. This originally came about in the early 1980’s and 1990’s with our country’s “get tough” war on drugs. You may recall Ronald Reagan’s famous press conference from the White House in 1986 where he and his wife declared their “war on drugs.”

Mandatory Minimum Sentences

Without getting extremely bogged down in the details, (among other things) what happened was that “mandatory minimum” sentences for federal drug crimes were instituted. Essentially this took away a judge’s ability to sentence a person according to how they feel a person should be sentenced based on their crime, the circumstances of their case, criminal history, use of a weapon (or not), etc. It took away their discretion in many ways. If you are convicted of a drug crime in federal court then you are going to do at least a certain number of years in prison, no matter the circumstances. Mandatory minimums . . . .

So what does this mean?  You guessed it.  Our prison population is extremely overcrowded with non-violent, many times first time offenders, who have committed drug related crimes. The crimes may have been tiny among the scheme of things. I could go on and on about this because I see it every day in my job.  But I won’t here.

The New Legislation

That brings us to now. About a year ago a Sentencing Commission went to work on trying to change this and get legislation passed that would allow people convicted under these outdated sentencing laws to apply to have their sentences shortened. IT WORKED. And now that is what is going to happen for what they are estimating to be 6,000 prisoners in the next couple of weeks. With more to follow.

This does only apply to federal prisoners. And not all of the people released are just going to get to go free. Many will go to half way houses, serve probation, etc. Others will be sent directly to immigration detention centers for deportation back to their own countries.

If you ask me though, this is a HUGE step in the right direction.

If you would like to read about this in more detail click on this article: Justice Department Set To Free 6,000 Prisoners, Largest One-Time Release.

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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What Is The Attorney-Client Privilege?

October 6, 2015

seattle criminal lawyer

The Reason For Attorney-Client Privilege

One of the main foundations of the legal profession in general is the necessity and ability for clients to speak to their attorneys about anything without the fear of their attorney being able to share that information.  If you really think about it this concept is the backbone of what allows many areas of law to function. After all, how can a person who is confiding in an attorney feel confident that they are not risking having their most sensitive information fall into the wrong hands?

Defining Attorney-Client Privilege

A simple definition of this term is:

An American legal concept that protects certain communications between a client and his or her attorney and keeps those communications confidential.

It is one of the oldest recognized privileges for confidential communications.  In fact, it can be traced back to the Roman Republic.  Its use was first firmly rooted in English law, or what we call “common law.”  This is significant because a majority of our legal system in the United States is derived from English common law.  But enough with the history lesson.

It Is Law

It is important to realize that it is much more than just a concept.  IT IS A LAW.  In Washington State it is codified in RCW 5.60.060 (2)(a), where it states: An attorney or counselor shall not, without the consent of his or her client, be examined as to any communication made by the client to him or her, or his or her advice given thereon in the course of professional employment.

What Does It Mean? 

It means that as an attorney if I disclose something that my client shares with me that they don’t want me to, whether they committed a crime, have been lying, etc. (which come up all the time in my practice of criminal law) then I am violating the law by doing so.  Not only the laws of Washington State, but also my oath as an attorney.  Which in turn means that I could lose my license to practice law by doing so.  In other words it is a big “no no”.

Exceptions

While this privilege is quite encompassing, it is not absolute.  Yes, there are certain communications between client and attorney that it does not cover.  These are meant to serve the purpose of aiding public policy.  The most common exception (again, which comes up in my practice of criminal law) is the Crime or Fraud Exception.  Here is how it works:

If a client seeks advice from an attorney to assist with the furtherance of a crime or fraud (meaning the crime has not yet been completed and they want help in doing so) then the communication is not privileged.  If, however, the client has completed the crime or fraud (again, this is usually the case in my practice) then anything the attorney and client discuss about the crime is privileged information.  Unless, the client wants help covering up the crime, which would be committing a further crime.

There you go.  I hope you have enjoyed or at least found interesting this simplified explanation of one of the most important concepts in the practice of law.

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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Search Warrants: What Are They And How Do They Work?

September 30, 2015
What Is a Search Warrant? Simply stated, a search warrant is a “legal document authorizing a police officer to enter and search a premises.”  The places that can be searched are not limited to buildings or real property.  They can also include vehicles, a person’s body, or even their blood. Search Warrants Aren’t Always Necessary […]
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How To Avoid Getting Pulled Over

September 22, 2015
Pretextual Stops In the realm of being a DUI defense attorney there is a term that strikes fear in us all.  That term is: “Pretextual Stops.” The legal definition of “pretext” is “A false or weak reason or motive advanced to hide the actual or strong reason or motive.”  With DUI cases this is important to understand […]
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What Is a Burden of Proof?

September 17, 2015
I am sure you have heard this phrase before. Whether it be in books, movies, t.v. shows, or in real life, it is a well known phrase. However, I find that in the real, actual courtroom context many people don’t know what it really means. Simply stated the burden of proof is a burden that the […]
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