If you or a loved one have been arrested or accused of criminal misconduct in Pierce County, it is extremely important that you contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer immediately. Often, your rights and the course of your case are dependent on the actions taken by you and your attorney immediately, and you may only have a short time to act.
We understand that this is a difficult time for you and your family. You are rightfully worried because you could be facing penalties that are swift and severe. The repercussions of a criminal conviction may haunt you for the rest of your life, but now is not the time for despair. Quite the contrary, now is the time to fight and protect your legal rights.Do NOT Talk to Anyone in Law Enforcement until You Talk to a Washington Criminal Lawyer
Regardless of what you have been told by the police, the government’s case against you may not be very strong. In many cases, the police will attempt to cover its shortcomings in its investigation by tricking you into providing incriminating responses to directed and leading questions. The police may pretend to be on your side and tell you that the only way you can help yourself is to cooperate in their investigation and tell them what they want to hear.
Alternatively, the police may threaten you with severe punishment and imply that they have control over your fate in order to coerce incriminating statements necessary to supplant missing links in their investigations. Before speaking with the police, prosecuting attorneys, investigators, or anyone else about your case it is important to speak with an experienced criminal lawyer who can assess your case and begin implementing a successful trial strategy.
Due to the complexity of the criminal justice process, the average person is often unable to understand the full breadth of the law or how to navigate the system on their own. You will likely have many questions, like
- Do I need a lawyer if I’m arrested in University Place?
- Will I have to appear in court?
- What are common defenses in a criminal trial?
- When should I hire an attorney?
With over 50 combined years of experience, our University Place criminal defense attorneys can answer all of your questions, work with you to explore your options, develop your defense, and make sure you are treated fairly and appropriately by the police, the prosecutors, and the court. We offer a free initial consultation to discuss the details of your case and how precisely we can help you.A Quick Guide to the Pierce County Court Systems
Now that you understand the basics of criminal charges in Pierce County, we will explain briefly the judicial branch of the Washington State government. Depending on what criminal charge you are facing in University Place, there are three different locations that your case may be heard in. Each of these courts has limited jurisdiction and can only hear certain cases. Occasionally the jurisdiction will overlap, and your case may be able to be heard in multiple courts.
In municipal court, a judge will hear cases brought by the city prosecutor in which the prosecutor alleges that a city law was broken. Laws vary from one city to another city, what is legal in one city may be illegal in another city. The most serious crimes that can be heard in a municipal court are crimes that gross misdemeanors.
The Lakewood Municipal Court serves as the municipal court for the cities of Lakewood, University Place, Steilacoom, and DuPont. If you are charged in a municipal court, it is best to speak with a University Place criminal defense lawyer that has extensive experience in that court.
Each of Washington’s 39 counties has a district court and a superior court. The Pierce County District Court, located in Tacoma, serves as district court to all cities within Pierce county. The district court or “county court” as it is commonly referred to, hears two different types of cases, civil cases, and criminal cases. When it comes to criminal cases brought in the district court there are two different types:
- Cases involving violations of State law.
- Cases involving violations of City law that have been appealed from a municipal court. If a defendant chooses to appeal a case that was previously decided in a municipal court the district court will hear the case and is not beholden to the municipal court’s decision.
Superior courts are trial courts that may consider all civil and criminal matters that occur within a county. They also have exclusive jurisdiction over all felony criminal cases, as well as family law and juvenile proceedings. The superior court may also serve as a court of appeals for cases that were previously adjudicated in either Municipal or District courts. The Pierce County Superior Court is also located in Tacoma.
Appearing in court is stressful. Washington criminal statutes are complex and constantly changing. If you are charged with a criminal offense, whether a felony or misdemeanor, you need to seek immediate legal counsel from a qualified WA State criminal law lawyer. Our criminal defense lawyers in University Place are experienced and determined. We can help you when you’re facing criminal charges. Contact our team of experienced Washington criminal defense attorneys and set your mind at ease.Understanding Your Charges- A University Place Criminal Law Attorney Explains
Any crime in Pierce County can lead to severe penalties such as fines, jail time or probation, and even suspension of your driver's license. The exact penalties placed on you if you’ve been convicted of a crime vary depending on many factors. This is known as your sentence. State statutes provide guidelines for judges to use to determine the punishments, but there is no way to know for sure what penalties you face until your sentencing hearing.
Washington State law classifies crimes differently, depending on their seriousness. A misdemeanor offense is considered to be a crime that is less serious than a felony offense. Misdemeanors are broken down into two categories:
- Simple Misdemeanor convictions carry a maximum of up to 90 days in jail and/or up-to a $1,000 fine.
- Gross Misdemeanor convictions carry a maximum of up to 364 days in jail and/or up-to $5,000 in fines.
Felonies are much more serious than misdemeanors. There are three levels of felonies in Washington state:
- Class A felonies are the most serious charges and are punishable by up to a $50,000 fine and/or up-to life in a state correctional facility.
- Class B felonies are punishable by fines up to $20,000 and/or up-to 10 years in a state correctional facility.
- Class C felonies are punishable up to $10,000 in fines and/or up-to 5 years in a state correctional facility.
Within those categories of charges, our team of University Place defense attorneys has handled misdemeanors and felonies involving
DUI- Driving is a privilege, something that the State of Washington regulates and can easily revoke when an individual violates state driving laws. If chemical tests show that an individual’s level of intoxication has reached the legal limit of .08% Blood Alcohol Content or BAC (.02% if the individual is under age 21), the state can suspend or revoke their license, impose a fine, or require jail time. Washington's “implied consent” law states that any person who operates a vehicle in Washington is deemed to have given consent to a breath test. More specifically, this law requires all drivers who are lawfully arrested for DUI to submit to a breathalyzer test when asked to do so by an officer.
It’s also important to note that there are cases where an individual can still be arrested for and convicted of DUI with less than .08% BAC if there is substantial evidence that the person is under the influence of alcohol and unable to operate his vehicle safely. If you’ve been arrested and charged with a DUI, make sure you have the best legal counsel.
Juvenile Crimes- Just like adults, juveniles are entitled to competent representation. In many cases, an attorney can help juvenile offenders resolve the charge against them so that it does not follow them into adulthood. Juvenile courts operate differently than the adult court system. Juvenile courts generally seek to rehabilitate offenders rather than apply lengthy sentences. An attorney familiar with the uniqueness of the juvenile courts is necessary to ensure the juvenile receives fair treatment.
When a juvenile commits a serious crime, the State may attempt to charge him or her in adult court. An attorney can help fight to keep the child in juvenile court.
Our firm has represented many juvenile offenders. We have helped them continue with their lives unaffected by the mistakes they made as a youth.
Reckless Driving- A person can be found guilty of reckless driving in Washington if a prosecutor can show that the person drove a vehicle with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others or property. Consider what Statute RCW 46.61.500 has to say on this matter:
Reckless driving—Penalty. (Effective until January 1, 2022.)
(1) Any person who drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving. Violation of the provisions of this section is a gross misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for up to three hundred sixty-four days and by a fine of not more than five thousand dollars.
(2)(a) Subject to (b) of this subsection, the license or permit to drive or any nonresident privilege of any person convicted of reckless driving shall be suspended by the department for not less than thirty days.
(b) When a reckless driving conviction is a result of a charge that was originally filed as a violation of RCW 46.61.502 or 46.61.504, or an equivalent local ordinance, the department shall grant credit on a day-for-day basis for any portion of a suspension, revocation, or denial already served under an administrative action arising out of the same incident.
Actions that may make a police officer decide to charge reckless driving include speeding significantly over the speed limit, running multiple red lights, striking median dividers while driving, failing to obey an order from a police officer to pull over and stop a vehicle, or taking part in an illegal street race. If you’re facing any serious traffic-related charge in the University Place area – whether it’s speeding, reckless driving, or street racing – get legal help promptly.
Domestic Violence- Almost any crime can be charged as domestic violence. The crime itself is not domestic violence, it’s the victim’s relationship (defined as a family or household member) to the alleged perpetrator that determines whether it’s domestic violence or not.
According to Washington State statute defines "Family or household members" as spouses, former spouses, persons who have a child in common regardless of whether they have been married or have lived together at any time, adult persons related by blood or marriage, adult persons who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past, persons sixteen years of age or older who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past and who have or have had a dating relationship, persons sixteen years of age or older with whom a person sixteen years of age or older has or has had a dating relationship, and persons who have a biological or legal parent-child relationship, including stepparents and stepchildren and grandparents and grandchildren.
Depending on the circumstances, you may not need a lawyer for something like a traffic ticket case (although points on your license must be taken into account), but for the overwhelming majority of criminal cases, using an attorney is the way to go. Beyond the sentence the judge imposes, a criminal conviction can carry long-lasting consequences.
Our team of University Place criminal law attorneys has argued hundreds of cases over their 50 combined years of experience in the legal field. The charges listed above are just a few examples of the types of cases we’ve argued, and won. If you don’t see your charges listed, please do not hesitate to contact our team so that we can help you with your unique circumstances.Hit the Links on a World-Class Golf Course in University Place
University Place received its name in the 1800s when the University of Puget Sound, a private liberal arts college in North Tacoma, purchased the land between the shores of the Puget Sound and the shadow of Mount Rainier. The school sought to build a new campus there but ended up selling the land back to the city for about $11,000. Today University Place is considered a suburb of Seattle with a population of 33,326.
University Place is home to a world-class golf course, the critically acclaimed Chambers Bay, which hosted the world’s finest golfers and golf fans for the U.S. Amateur in 2010 and the U.S. Open in 2015. In University Place, the summers are short, warm, and dry, and the winters are long, moderately cold, and mostly cloudy. This makes for ideal golfing weather year-round in the city.
Another popular outdoor activity in University Place is the Curran Apple Orchard. Open for daily tours of their 7-acre hobby orchard, the park also hosts an annual event called The Cider Squeeze. Locals and tourists alike flock to the event to pick apples to be pressed into cider while a live band plays on stage.
If you’re looking to enjoy an indoor activity, University Place is also home to Chambers Bay Distillery. Known for its award-winning bourbons, this distillery offers daily tours and samples in its tasting room and is a featured location on the Washington Distillery Trail.
If visiting a distillery has brought you trouble, it is critical that you get an experienced attorney on your side as soon as possible. Regardless of the circumstances, an attorney will be invaluable in pursuing a dismissal, minimizing penalties, or working for another positive outcome. Contact a University Place criminal defense attorney today to discuss your case and potential defense strategies that may benefit you.Why Should I Hire a University Place Criminal Defense Attorney?
Getting arrested on a criminal charge is only the first part of a criminal case. Whether you have been written up for a minor traffic violation or charged with a drug crime or domestic violence charge you cannot be convicted unless a judge or jury finds you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. That is where our University Place criminal defense attorneys come in.
Every case is different, and every case deserves skilled, effective, dedicated, and caring legal help. If you or someone you love is under investigation or has been charged with a crime in Washington, you need customized legal help based on the specific facts of your case. Reach out to a qualified University Place criminal lawyer to discuss your matter in order to receive the best legal advice available, ensure your rights are protected and get the help you deserve.