No one expects to get arrested. Being charged with a crime can be a frightening, life-altering experience. It shows up on a background check and can affect your reputation, your family, your job, and most importantly your freedom. Don’t leave your future to chance—ensure you choose the most competent, qualified Fife criminal defense attorney to fight aggressively on your behalf for your life and your future.
Being arrested and charged with a crime is one of the most harrowing experiences a person will ever face. If you’ve never been charged with a serious crime, the stress can feel insurmountable. We urge you to stop and take a deep breath. You need to gather control of your emotions and act in your own best interests without delay. What is the first thing you need to do?
Contact a qualified Washington State criminal law lawyer. In the meantime, do not talk to anyone in law enforcement including police and prosecuting attorneys. Once you have an attorney at your side offering reliable counsel, then you can take the next step.
Our criminal defense experience in Pierce County courtrooms allows us to offer informative advice on your charges, your options for defending yourself, and what to expect from the proceedings you will go through. We can also help you find answers to questions like:
- Do I have to appear in court?
- What do these charges mean?
- Do I even need a criminal defense attorney?
- Will I go to jail?
- When should I hire an attorney?
The resources on this website attempt to assist in explaining what is at stake and how the system works. Still, this is no substitute for consultation with counsel, which is why we offer a free first consultation, so that our Fife criminal law lawyers can speak with you about the specifics of your case. Having the right counsel could mean the difference between a guilty or not guilty verdict. Make sure you work with someone you can put your entire trust in.Pierce County Court Systems Explained
Everyone charged with a crime in Washington must go to court as part of the legal process. Washington trial courts are funded and administered locally by each county or city. With a few exceptions, even courts in the same county are separately administered. Superior courts and courts of limited jurisdiction act independently of each other and hear different types of cases. This section will focus on the Municipal, District, and Superior courts as they are the three courts that will handle almost all criminal charges in Fife.
The municipal courts in Washington manage cases involving violations of traffic and misdemeanor ordinances that occur within the city limits of incorporated municipalities. A misdemeanor is regarded as a more minor criminal offense, punishable by less than 12 months in jail.
There are two categories of misdemeanors, defined by the punishments applicable to each charge.
- Simple Misdemeanors are punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or up-to a $1,000 fine. Some simple misdemeanor charges include shoplifting and disorderly conduct.
- Gross Misdemeanors are punishable by up to 364 days in jail and/or up-to a $5,000 fine. Some examples of gross misdemeanor charges include DUI and reckless driving.
The Fife Municipal Court, as a court of limited jurisdiction, does not hear small claims or civil cases, change names or issue marriage licenses.
The district courts in Washington handle misdemeanor crime and traffic matters, small claims disputes, and other civil matters involving amounts less than $100,000. The district courts also handle felony and gross misdemeanor arraignments and conduct preliminary hearings to determine if sufficient evidence exists to hold criminals for trial in the superior court. Each of Washington’s 39 counties is home to a district court. The Pierce County District Court, located in Tacoma, serves as district court for all cities within Pierce County.
The Superior courts in Washington have general jurisdiction over all legal disputes. These are the courts where criminal, civil, family, and juvenile matters are generally resolved through arbitration, mediation, and bench or jury trials. All felony trials will be heard in Superior court. Felonies are crimes that may be punishable by time in a state correctional facility, as opposed to county jail. These are the most serious criminal charges in Washington state.
There are three levels of felony charges:
- Class A Felony- carries a sentence of up to life in prison and/or fines up to $50,000.
- Class B Felony- carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and/or fines of up to $20,000.
- Class C Felony- carries a sentence of up to 5 years in prison and/or fines of up to $10,000.
Superior courts also handle appeals from district and municipal court cases. The Pierce County Superior Court, also located in downtown Tacoma, handles all felony cases for Fife and the rest of Pierce County.
You can learn more about Washington’s court system through your local library or an experienced Fife criminal defense attorney. When you work with one of our experienced WA State criminal law lawyers, you will have someone familiar with all of the courts offering you reliable counsel every step of the way. Call our team today for a no-cost consultation on your case.Understanding the Washington State Criminal Process
Our Fife criminal law attorneys want to help you understand legal procedures and your Constitutional rights. Once a police investigation begins, the efforts of law enforcement are to build its case.
Did you know that after a suspect has been arrested for an alleged crime, the state has 48 hours to determine probable cause? To establish probable cause, police officers must be able to point to objective circumstances leading them to believe that a suspect committed a crime. In general, probable cause requires more than a mere suspicion that a suspect committed a crime, but not as much information as would be required to prove the suspect guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
If probable cause is established then the police will send the case to the District Attorney who will decide whether or not to press charges. Once charges are filed, the first step in a criminal case is a court appearance called an arraignment, in which the charges against the defendant are read before a judge. The arraignment is followed by a preliminary hearing, in which a prosecutor presents evidence to a judge in an attempt to show that there is a strong suspicion that a person committed a crime.
The next step is the pretrial hearing, which is a hearing to resolve outstanding issues with discovery or evidence gathering. It is often an appropriate time to attempt to settle or ‘plea bargain’ the case.
If no plea agreement is made, the case proceeds to trial. Both the prosecution and defense present evidence and call witnesses, in front of a judge and possibly a jury, depending upon which court the trial is being held in. (More information on the Washington State court system is listed below.) Once the trial is over, the judge and/or jury will return a verdict. If the accused is found guilty, a sentencing hearing will be set by the judge. A sentencing hearing is where the court orders the actual penalty for a defendant.
In any situation where you are questioned, searched, or arrested by a law enforcement officer, it is important to contact our Washington criminal defense attorneys immediately to help protect your rights. Aggressive, informative, and thorough, we can challenge the charges against you and work to convince the judge or jury to reach a positive conclusion to your case.Some of the Types of Criminal Law Cases That Our Legal Team Defends
Our Washington State criminal attorneys defend clients in state and federal courts, in cases ranging from misdemeanor offenses to homicide charges. We are comfortable handling complex criminal cases, including homicide charges, sexual assault, armed robbery, kidnapping, aggravated assault, and drug trafficking. We also provide an aggressive defense against misdemeanor charges, including DUI, simple assault, and drug possession.
Our areas of practice include:
DUI- The process of navigating through a DUI or DWI charge can be complicated and emotional. If convicted, DUI and DWI offenses can result in the loss of your driver’s license, large fines, and sometimes jail. For many people, it affects their careers and education. With much at stake, it is crucial to have an experienced DUI or DWI lawyer who will work to protect your rights and your record.
Drug Offenses- In Washington, state drug crimes are officially called Violations of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act (VUCSA). The state statute clearly states that “it is unlawful for any person to manufacture, deliver, or possess with intent to manufacture or deliver, a controlled substance.” What is considered a controlled substance in Washington state? Controlled substances include heroin, oxycodone, methamphetamine, Oxycontin, and cocaine, among others. Although Washington allows for the legal use of marijuana both medically and recreationally, there still are limits. Most non-cannabis drug possession charges in Washington are felonies.
Assault- There are several types of assault, depending on if weapons were involved and the extent of the injuries. For example, simple assault and battery occurs when the threat or injuries are minor. When the injuries are more severe or a deadly weapon is involved, the incident may be considered aggravated assault.
You're Washignton lawyer can even help with unusual assault cases like hate crimes. If you’re the victim of a hate crime, consider the following from Statute RCW 9A.36.078:
Hate crime offenses—Finding.
The legislature finds that crimes and threats against persons because of their race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, or mental, physical, or sensory disabilities are serious and increasing. The legislature also finds that crimes and threats are often directed against interracial couples and their children or couples of mixed religions, colors, ancestries, or national origins because of bias and bigotry against the race, color, religion, ancestry, or national origin of one person in the couple or family. The legislature finds that the state interest in preventing crimes and threats motivated by bigotry and bias goes beyond the state interest in preventing other felonies or misdemeanors such as criminal trespass, malicious mischief, assault, or other crimes that are not motivated by hatred, bigotry, and bias, and that prosecution of those other crimes inadequately protects citizens from crimes and threats motivated by bigotry and bias. Therefore, the legislature finds that protection of those citizens from threats of harm due to bias and bigotry is a compelling state interest.
Traffic Violations- Over 2,300 traffic tickets are issued in Washington each day. A moving violation occurs whenever a traffic law is violated by a vehicle in motion. Along with speeding and HOV lane violations, there are more serious moving violations that require the help of a criminal defense attorney. These charges include reckless driving, negligent driving, and physical control violations.
Physical control is actually a non-driving crime, which means you can be charged while not actually behind the wheel of your motor vehicle. Washington state statute defines a physical control violation as
(1) A person is guilty of being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug if the person has actual physical control of a vehicle within this state:
(a) And the person has, within two hours after being in actual physical control of the vehicle, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher as shown by analysis of the person's breath or blood made under RCW 46.61.506; or
(b) The person has, within two hours after being in actual physical control of a vehicle, a THC concentration of 5.00 or higher as shown by analysis of the person's blood made under RCW 46.61.506; or
(c) While the person is under the influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor or any drug; or
(d) While the person is under the combined influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor and any drug.
White Collar Crimes- Wire fraud, mail fraud computer fraud, health care fraud, insurance fraud, identity theft, forgery, embezzlement. These are just some of the wide range of charges that fall under the umbrella term “white-collar crimes.” If you are facing charges for a white-collar crime, your personal and professional life are on the line. The skill and experience of your defense lawyer may determine the course of your entire future and the futures of your loved ones.
This is just a small sample of some of the hundreds of different charges our Pierce County criminal attorneys have worked on. Contact our team today to discuss the specifics of your case during our free initial consultation.Fife- “Halfway and Half the Price”
Lying nestled in the heart of the Puyallup Indian Reservation, and home to approximately ten thousand residents, Fife is located along the I-5 corridor and is ideally situated to access the Ports of Tacoma and Seattle, Sea-Tac Airport, and major rail connections. Known for being “Halfway and half the price,” its central location to the larger cities of Tacoma and Seattle make this town a hidden gem of Pierce County.
For more information about the history of Fife, visit the Fife History Museum. Located in the former home of Louis Dacca, a member of the original Fife City Council, this museum hosts a rotating display of exhibits featuring heirlooms from Fife’s rich history.
If you have a strong desire to be out in nature, Fife has many walkable trails and parks, including the 15-acre Hylebos Nature Area. A single trail leads explorers through the park so it’s accessible for new or less confident hikers. Seasoned outdoors people looking for a little adventure can head to Swan Creek Park, which offers popular mountain biking trails over its 273-acre spread.
Every October, Fife hosts its annual Harvest Festival. Since 2005 the city has hosted this event in Dacca Park, which features all kinds of arts, crafts, foods, performances, and vendors. With something for the entire family, this free event has truly become a favorite for locals and visitors alike.
If you’ve been arrested, indicted, or otherwise stand accused of a crime in Fife, you have rights. Don’t make the mistake of facing these charges alone. Contact our Washington state criminal defense attorneys today to begin the free consultation on your case.Why Choose a Fife Criminal Defense Attorney?
Being charged with a crime has life-changing consequences. Hiring the right criminal defense lawyer who understands your rights and the intricacies of criminal law can make all the difference. With more than five decades of collective experience and thousands of cases handled, our criminal defense lawyers in Pierce county have established a record of excellence and success.
Whether you’re facing felony or misdemeanor charges, our Fife criminal defense lawyers will use their experience to assure that your freedoms are protected. Our primary goal is to help you lift the heavy burden of criminal charges off your back and to obtain the best possible result for you. We’ll help you navigate the legal system and work with you to achieve the best possible outcome for your case. Contact a Fife criminal law attorney today and begin your no-cost initial consultation.