Criminal Defense FAQ
I just found out that I am under investigation for a crime. Do I need to hire a lawyer, even though I have not been charged with anything?
Hiring a lawyer to defend you during the investigation is probably one of the most important times to have legal counsel. If you are currently being investigated, a Seattle criminal defense attorney can help protect your rights by making sure that the investigators do not illegally obtain evidence against you that may later be used to incriminate you. You should hire a lawyer the moment you discover you are being investigated.
Why do I need a lawyer?
A criminal charge means that you could face sanctions including jail times, fines, probation, potential loss of your driver's license and other penalties. A skilled criminal defense attorney can guide you through the court process and advocate your position in order to achieve the best possible outcome in your case.
If I am charged with a crime, will I have a trial by jury?
The United States Constitution gives any person charged with a crime the right to a trial by jury. In district or municipal court, the jury consists of 6 jurors. In superior court, the jury consists of 12 jurors who are responsible for reaching a verdict in your case.
What standard is used during a criminal trial to prove a defendant is guilty?
In order for a defendant to be found guilty of a crime, the prosecuting attorney must convince the judge and/or jury that the person is “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt”. This can be difficult standard to meet and a criminal defense lawyer from our firm will work hard to give the judges and jurors reason to believe you are innocent.
I have not been charged with a crime before, what should I expect?
Every case is different. However, in all criminal cases in Washington, you have the right to representation by an attorney. You can expect mandatory court appearances and all crimes in Washington carry the possibility of fines or jail time if you are convicted. If you have questions or concerns about your particular situation, please contact us and we can advise you based on your specific case.
Do I have to give a statement to the police immediately after being arrested?
The answer to this common question is a simple one. You do not have to give the police any form of statement about your potential involvement in a case despite what they may tell you. It is your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, especially until you can obtain the help of a qualified lawyer. Exercising this right is a beneficial way to keep from incriminating yourself. Law officers may wish to question you and derive information from you, but we highly recommend that you ascertain an attorney as soon as possible after any form of criminal charge has been brought against you. Without such protection, there is a good possibility that you could give information that greatly harms your case.
Why do I need an attorney?
While you always have the option of representing yourself in court, many criminal cases can become hard to navigate and extremely complicated. This is a matter of your future and it is our desire to help guide you through an otherwise difficult process so that no mistakes are made. We understand that while money may be an issue, we will work with you to create a plan and obtain the best results possible. You need someone with you to explain the procedures and paperwork so that you do not accidentally change the course of your future by some simple missteps. Do not wait until it is too late to configure a solid case against your criminal accusations. Get in touch with someone at our firm as soon as possible so that we can discuss with you the best way to handle your charges. We are prepared to assist you, so please do not wait to contact our firm.
Should I plead guilty to my charges?
Once you plead guilty to a charge, you cannot change your plea afterwards, so it always advised that you talk with a criminal defense attorney at our firm before you do this. Pleading guilty means that you are admitting your conduct is punishable by the law and you know the consequences for your crime. You are also giving up your right to public counsel, trial by jury, and the right to confront and cross-examine your accuser. If you are not a US citizen, then you will risk getting deported for committing a crime. When you plead guilty, your options are significantly reduced so please let us review your situation and help you decide on a course of action before you admit to anything.
Do I need to let police search my home or personal belongings?
If a law enforcement official asks to search your property without a warrant, then you are not required to let them do so. The police are not required to tell you that you can refuse their request, so they may consistently ask you and be persuasive so you will allow it. There are some situations; however, in which police may legally conduct a search. If a contraband item is in view of the officer, then they do not need a warrant to seize the property. Police are also allowed to search the person and the surroundings for evidence if a person is placed under arrest for a crime. Lastly, law enforcement officials that have a reasonable fear for the safety of the public may search a premises or person without a warrant. To find out if you've been a victim of an illegal search, please talk to a legal representative at our firm immediately!
If my driver's license has been suspended for DUI, how do I get to and from work or school?
After you have been arrested for a DUI, the police officer will probably take your license and you will not be able to drive until you request a hearing to contest the suspension. You only have 20 days from your arrest to request this hearing and if you do not request a hearing or if the hearing examiner doesn't decide in your favor, your license will be suspended for 90 days to 2 years. Your
driver's license suspension will begin 60 days from the date of your arrest, but you may be able to get a restricted license during this time.
An Ignition Interlock Driver's License allows you to drive a vehicle for the period of your suspension or revocation if that vehicle has been equipped with an ignition interlock device. Instead of simply accepting defeat after you are arrested for DUI, you can fight the possibility of a driver's license suspension altogether by calling a Seattle DUI lawyer from Baker, Lewis, Schwisow & Laws, PLLC for help. Our firm knows how to represent your rights during an administrative hearing so that you can avoid a driver's license suspension altogether, and we have helped countless clients in the past fight their DUI charges.
Why should I hire an attorney who only does criminal defense cases?
Sometimes when people are accused of a crime, they begin to search for a "lawyer" or "attorney" in their geographic area without understanding that they should be searching for a certain type of legal representation. In the legal world, the type of attorney who handles criminal cases for a defendant is a "criminal defense lawyer", while the attorney who is representing the jurisdiction where the crime was allegedly committed is called a "prosecuting attorney".
Other than prosecutors, there are other lawyers who are civil attorneys, which means that they handle transactional law claims or class action suits. Here at Baker, Lewis, Schwisow & Laws, PLLC, we practice criminal defense law exclusively in order to provide our clients with the highest quality of representation. After a criminal arrest, you should look for a law firm devoted 100% to criminal defense law instead of settling for a lawyer who practices other specialties as well.
As Seattle criminal defense lawyers, we spend most of our career in courtrooms throughout the state. This has given us an extensive understanding of how court operates and the defense strategies that are effective for various charges. Over the years, we have stayed abreast of local, state and federal changes to criminal laws and we can provide you with up-to-date information about your rights. Call our firm today to learn more about how you will benefit from the legal protection and support that we offer you.