Law Office of Jacqueline Porter:

Divorce. DUI. Criminal Defense. Domestic Violence. Custody. Relocations. Gun Rights. Expungement.


Real questions, answers and legal guides!

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I was arrested for racing/reckless driving, what do I do?

Posted on November 20, 2017 at 10:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Question: I was arrested for racing/reckless driving. The cop handcuffed me and put me in the back of the car but after he printed the paper he let me go and I didn't go to jail. 1st question-- is that an actual arrest? I have a court date and I was wondering how do I go about that? I know it was a stupid mistake so I was wondering if there was a way to not go to jail or get a fine or anything.

Jacqueline’s Answer:  first bit of advice is DON"Y WORRY. As trouble goes, you really aren't in very deep. You have two options: 1. On the paperwork you were given by the officer, there should have been either a court date or a date by which you must set a court date. Usually there is an actual court date on your citation, That court date is called an "arraignment." You MUST ATTEND this hearing. This is the hearing were you will enter your plea and receive your "release conditions," (the conditions you must follow while waiting for your next court date), which they will give you before you leave the courtroom. There are usually public defense attorneys at this hearing and, if you qualify financially, you will have an opportunity to talk with one of those attorneys before you enter your plea. 2. Your second option is to hire a private attorney BEFORE your arraignment. That attorney MAY be able to enter your plea for you and get you your next court date without having to conduct an arraignment hearing. Keep in mind: There are charges for which you cannot avoid the arraignment hearing, but your charge is not one of them. As for whether or not you were arrested, you were properly arrested, but you were not "booked" into jail (which is good)! You will definitely want an attorney helping you with this, whether you go with a public defender or private counsel. The outcome will depend largely on the facts of the case and whether or not you have any criminal history. Best of luck!

What if the Respondent doesn't show up for court on a No Contact Order?

Posted on November 16, 2017 at 5:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Q: What are my rights when a defendant does not show up to court in a No Contact Order case due to a claim of illness?: I already have a No Contact Order against a family member, and due to indirect threats from this person, I am forced to ask that the order be made permanent. This person has petitioned the judge for a hearing by phone because he claims he is too ill to attend. Can I object? And can I ask the court that he be required to attend?

A: Jacqueline’s answer: I am assuming that this No Contact Order is civil, meaning that it was not issued by the State as part of a criminal charge, but that you sought this protection from the court on your own behalf. Often times, when a private party seeks some type of protection from another private party, the courts will grant the restraints on an emergency basis. When they do this, the court actually issues a temporary order setting out the restraints. This temporary order is only valid for 14 days, as the respondent (the person you are seeking to restrain) has the right to a hearing on the matter before a judge will decide if the order should be issued for a longer period. I am going to assume that the respondent in your case is asking to appear by telephone at this hearing (the hearing where the judge will decide if the more permanent order will be issued). If he is too ill to attend the hearing, he has a couple of options. One option is for him to ask the court to reschedule the hearing to a later date so that he may attend in-person. If he goes this route, the judge will re-issue that temporary order (the one that is only good for 14 days) so that the restraints will remain in place while the new hearing date is pending. His second option is to make arrangements to appear at the hearing by telephone. Each court has local rules that govern how and if he would be able to do this. If the local rules allow it, then he is allowed to appear at the hearing by telephone. I hope this helps!

I'm 15. Can I choose to live withy mom?

Posted on November 14, 2017 at 10:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Q: If I'm 15 can I move with my mom if she has custody of my brother and my dad has custody of me ?: I live with my dad and my little brother who has the same mom and dad lives with my mom I what to live with my mom because there's more opportunity and I think I'll be better off is it legal for me to live with my mom if my dads not okay with it


A: Jacqueline’s answer: This area of law is frustrating for teenagers and parents alike. Unfortunately, the legal answer is that, aside from an agreement between your parents, the current parenting plan is the order that the parties (your parents) must follow. In other words, if your parents both agree that you can live the majority of the time with your mom, then you are home free. But if your parents do not agree to allow you to live with your mom, then you are going to have to find other ways to get what you are seeking. Why do you want to live with your mom? Is it that you want more time with her? Is it that you want more time with your brother? Is your mother's home a more convenient location from which to conduct your daily life (school,sports, friends, etc)? If any of these are the case, maybe your parents would be open to agreeing to some tweaks in the current schedule. If these small changes would truly benefit you, I would hope your parents would be open to discussing options with you and with each other. Best of luck.

Child Left Unsupervised with Third Party in Violation of Court Order

Posted on November 13, 2017 at 3:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Q: What happens if my child is left alone with someone he's not supposed to be?: I have full legal and physical custody. My court order says my child is not allowed to be around my ex's father without my permission and supervision because of substance abuse. My child told his therapist that he was left alone with this person, what is the next step that I take? I am trying not to go back into a courtroom, but my order never specified what happens next.

A: Jacqueline’s answer: There are a couple of ways to handle this. The most aggressive approach would be to file a motion seeking an order of contempt against your ex. If you take this approach, you will need to be very deliberate in how you present the evidence of the violation to the judge. As is often the case, this violation came to light through what is known as "child hearsay," things the child has revealed about his/her time with the other parent. Frustratingly, this type of evidence is ordinarily not admissible in court, so you will need to work with your son's counselor in getting a statement (under oath) from the counselor that sets out the basis for your concerns. A less aggressive approach would be to write your ex a letter or email (something you can present as evidence later, if needed) letting him know that your are aware of the time your son spent unsupervised with his grandfather, and asking for his assurance that the violation will not occur again. You know better than anyone which approach will be the most effective for you. Best of luck.

Positive UA for Adderall While on Probation for 2nd DUI with 3rd DUI Pending

Posted on August 11, 2016 at 7:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Positive UA for Adderall While on Probation for 2nd DUI with 3rd DUI Pending

QUESTION:  A buddy of mine is currently on probation for his second DUI . While on probation, he was jailed for failing a breathalyzer during a probation officer meeting and upon release from jail was ordered to wear a scram ankle bracelet and to complete in home monitoring.


Prior to the scram bracelet and failed breathalyzer he got a 3rd DUI (all dui charges are within 7 years) which he accepted a plea deal but is awaiting sentencing. He was recently UA'd as part of his scram monitoring and tested positive for Adderall (he does not have a prescription.) Will the failed UA have an effect on the plea deal or sentencing? What type of punishment is he facing now?

Thanks in advance.

Jacqueline's ANSWER:  The positive UA will likely carry it's own independent consequences. The positive UA is a probation violation for the 2nd DUI, which means that the court can impose any portion of the jail time or fine that was suspended on that charge (this is referred to as a "sanction" in this phase). On the 3rd DUI, it is unclear if your friend has actually pled, or if he has accepted a deal and is waiting to plea. In Spokane County, sentencing on a DUI almost always occurs in the same hearing as the plea. If your friend has not pled yet, then he likely has a pre-trial release condition that prohibits use or possession of alcohol or drugs for which he does not have a prescription. In that case, the failed UA would also be a violation of his release conditions on the 3rd DUI (along with a probation violation on the 2nd DUI). A judge can book your friend into jail for violating a pre-trial release condition, although that is not technically a "sentence" when a person is booked prior to conviction (it is referred to as being "held' on a charge). If your friend truly has pled already (which would mean he has been convicted) and is awaiting sentencing, then it is quite likely that there will be some sort of increased jail time when the judge imposes the sentence. If this were my client, I would work to try to have his jail time for the probation violation on the 2nd DUI (his sanction) and the jail time for the 3rd DUI run concurrently. That would at least reduce the amount of time he is actually serves. Hope this helps.

Felony Sentencing: Not as Simple as Class A, B, or C. Your Attorney Needs to Know What They Are Doing!

Posted on August 4, 2016 at 11:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Felony Sentencing: Not as Simple as Class A, B, or C. Your Attorney Needs to Know What They Are Doing!


When charged with a felony or major crime, it is normal for the first thought to be "how much time am I facing." The statutory maximum sentences for the three classes of felonies can be found in RCW 9A.20.021.


So, if you are charged with Second Degree Assault (a Class B Felony) you are facing up to ten years, right? Technically, yes, but that is not how sentencing is determined. Sentencing for classified felonies is ordinarily determined by using the 'Standard Sentencing Range.' The Standard Sentencing Range is determined by the intersection of two factors 1) your "Offender Score" and 2) the "Seriousness Level" of the alleged crime. Your Offender Score is calculated using your prior convictions, and the Seriousness Level is a fixed value.


If you have never been convicted of a felony, your Offender Score is going to be '0.' Second Degree Assault has a fixed Seriousness Level of '4.' The intersection of these two factors gives us a Standard Sentencing Range of 3 to 9 months, with a mid-range of 6 months, if convicted. A different person convicted of the exact same crime may be facing an entirely different sentence. For example, if s/he has an Offender core of '9,' and is charged with Second Degree Assault (still a Seriousness Level 4), the Standard Sentencing Range is 63 to 84 months, with a mid-range of 74 months. A judge may impose a sentence that is above or below the standard sentencing range, but certain criteria must be met.


It is IMPERATIVE that you have an attorney that knows how to ACCURATELY calculate your Offender Score. Mistakes do occur in this calculation, and you can see that such a miscalculation could potentially translate to a significantly longer sentence if convicted. DON'T MESS AROUND WITH THIS. You need an attorney who knows what they are doing. It is much easier to avoid a catastrophic error than it is to try to fix one that has occurred.

Why Can't I Find an Attorney Who Will Work With Me Financially?

Posted on January 10, 2016 at 5:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Why Can’t I Find an Attorney Who Will Work With Me Financially?

I frequently get calls from potential clients who are looking for a “pro bono” attorney (who will represent them at no cost), or an attorney that will let them make smaller payments over time, rather than requiring a large retainer up-front.

I simply cannot do this.  Every time I get these calls, I have to beat my heart into submission and force my brain to operate at 100%. Why is it so difficult to find an attorney who will “work with you” financially? Here is the answer. An effective legal representation is not an “attorney only” endeavor. Imagine that you need surgery and you need to select a surgeon. Surgery, like legal fees, is very costly. You call around looking for a surgeon who will give you a discount, or donate his/her time to you, or let you make payments. Lo and behold – you find one!! Aren’t you lucky! You found a surgeon whose heart is running the show. Awesome.

You arrive to check in for your surgery, and the surgeon comes out to greet you. He leads you back to the operating room and tells you to hop up on the table and hold still – this shouldn’t hurt too much. You look around, waiting to see the staff and the instruments you see on “Botched.” “Uh, Doc, um shouldn’t you check my vital signs so you can monitor them throughout the surgery, you know, to make sure I’m not dead?” The surgeon explains that he is happy to check your vital signs, but he really needs the nurse’s help, as she is the one who is familiar with the equipment. In fact (he says with a chuckle) he doesn’t even know how to record your vital signs in the computer! The nurse is not here today because she was not willing to volunteer her time and expertise to assist the surgeon. She has a big heart, but she also has a family and a mortgage and she never seems to agree when her boss asks her to work for free. But no worries, he assures you, the important part is the surgery, you know, the part where he cuts you open, rearranges stuff inside your body, and then sews you back up. The surgeon is the one that matters. In fact, here’s an idea – why don’t you monitor your own vital signs? How hard can it be? After all, you are the one who wanted this free procedure. The surgeon gives you some basic instructions on what to look for and you agree to do your part. But wait, how can you monitor your vital signs if you’re unconscious due to the anesthetic? Oh yeah, about that.

The surgeon explains that he is not trained to administer drugs that will bring you so close to death that you can be cut open and rearranged without feeling a thing, and then keep you in that state for as long as the surgeon needs without actually killing you. It’s kind of a full-time job, to be performed simultaneously with the job the surgeon is doing (the rearranging part). Further, the surgeon says, those drugs are hella expensive and he could not find a drug company to donate them.  Nevermind the fact that your surgeon just use the word, “hella”. The surgeon starts getting a little annoyed with you constantly questioning him, after all, HE is the one doing YOU a favor. Show a little appreciation.

You lay down and the surgeon is poised to begin. He looks blankly for a movement and then walks away. You hear drawers and cupboards opening and closing. “Doc?. . . Doc?! What is it? What are you looking for?” He explains that he is looking for his favorite scalpel, but he is not sure where the instruments are stored. He usually has a surgical technician set his surgical tray up for him. Ahh, here it is! Ok, lay back down. “Doc, is that scapel . . . clean?” Doc responds that it “looks good to me.” Either way, anything a surgical tech can do, a surgeon can do better. You are SO LUCKY to have this surgeon all to yourself.

By now you can tell the surgeon is getting more disgruntled with all your demands when you are not even paying for this. Now is the perfect time for him to take your life in his hands and cut you open. You and Doc both feel great about this.

He cuts you open, tinkers around, and sews you back up. Your body is in such shock from the pain that you don’t even care if the surgery was a success, you just want to survive and go home. You do survive, but barely. You spend years, and hundreds of thousands of dollars (far more than a proper surgery would have cost), treating infections and attempting to fix the damage done by the well-intentioned surgeon. You sue him. What kind of a surgeon would perform a surgery without all of the necessary precautions in place? Sure, you asked him to, but looking back, HE is the one who should have known better.

Doc attempts to defend himself by explaining to the jury that he was trying to help you, that you were not paying for your surgery. He did not have the option to have the staff, drugs, and equipment that he would have used with a fully paying patient. Doc learns that the standard of care is exactly the same for a paying patient as it is for a non-paying patient. He is convicted of criminal negligence, his career is over, and his malpractice insurance doesn’t even come close to covering the judgment against him.

The surgeon will never recovery financially. You will never recover physically.  Both of you are damaged beyond repair, all because you wanted to save some money and the surgeon wanted to help you. You both wish you could turn back time.  

Contrary to popular belief, lawyers are some of the most compassionate, helpful people on earth. Most of them went to law school to help people. Almost every attorney I know volunteers many, many hours to serve others. However, our volunteer work is done in very controlled environments under properly vetted circumstances. This is not for our benefit, but for YOURS. We are held to the same standard for every client, whether they are paying or not. An “attorney only” package is very similar to the “surgeon only” package above. Even if an attorney does not have staff, he/she still uses many tools and resources in running your case. When you hear about someone getting pro bono legal services, those are usually through organizations that are funding the case on behalf of the client so that the attorney can still properly put on a case (but still at no cost to the client).  

Just like surgery, legal services are expensive. A great attorney is going to be respectful of your money, but is not going to risk a sub-par, or even destructive, outcome just so you will like him or her. I always collect a sufficient retainer up-front, every time. I am not willing to conduct your case on an “attorney only” basis. I think I’m pretty great, but only because I am smart enough to use great tools.  

I use a paralegal that is one of the smartest in town; I use investigators that have unmatched experience conducting interviews and testifying in court; I use experts to advise me on how to divide your retirement account so that you don’t lose thousands in fees; I consult with a former Department of Licensing hearing examiner prior to your DOL hearing. The list of tools and experts I use is lengthy.  It would be selfish and irresponsible of me to accept an unfunded case, knowing that I cannot take depositions, hire investators, send cell phones to forensic labs, consult with other experts, or basically do anything at all that might actually help you. I would inadvertently cause you harm amost every time.

When I was fresh out of law school, I was on fire to provide affordable legal services to our community. Through time and experience, I saw that there is no way to provide proper legal services without proper funding. I may have a big heart, but my heart can’t transcribe a deposition, draft an order dividing your retirement, testify in court, or do a forensic exam on a cell phone.  My heart can’t get you the best outcome. I want to be liked just as much as the next guy, but what would it say about me if it was more important to me that you admire me than it is that you get the best outcome? I want to do best job possible and I want the results to reflect that.


Posted on January 4, 2016 at 10:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Q: Can i fight this? any cases I can research/cite in my defense so case can be dismissed?: I walked out of the goodwill thrift store after paying for my two items but forgot there was a third item in my bag I was using as shopping basket and they charged me with shoplifting.


A: Jacqueline’s Answer: Absolutely, you can fight this! However, based upon what information you have provided, there is likely no legal or "technical" argument to be made in a pre-trial motion. This is an issue of fact. Did you or did you not intentionally deprive Goodwill of that item? You need an attorney to defend you. There will most likely be settlement options available to you, but it is understandable if you are not interested in a settlement. If you are not interested in a settlement, your attorney can set the case for a trial date. Frequently, when a case is set for trial, as the trial date draws nearer the State (prosecutor) will look at the case with a more critical eye. Do they really think they will get a conviction at trial? If not, then they may dismiss the charges. Otherwise, the case will proceed to trial and the prosecutor would have the burden of proving every element of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. It sounds like that could be very difficult in a case like this, which makes your case a great case for a defense attorney to take to trial. Trial is a huge risk, a risk that many people cannot afford to take, but it is your RIGHT to force the State to prove your guilt.


Posted on January 3, 2016 at 7:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Q: Child support and custody: My EX hasn't seen our son in over 4 years. I have a final order that is a year old with no visitation until circumstances have changed, and she isn't changing for the better. The child support order will be 2 years old this March, and she is 40k in debt to our child. It will never come to him, I already know since she has 2 babies with 2 other men. My question is, can I just remove her from the order and ask for rights to be removed? How can I stop the order, or even enforce it if I don't know where she is, and she was abusive to our child and it's court documented on her default paperwork. She has a laundry list to complete and hasn't started. Also has a laundry list of jail time, and I do not. Is there any advice for this guy?


A: Jacqueline’s Answer: I'm curious what has triggered your desire to "stop" or "enforce" the order. I realize she is in violation of the child support order, but it does not sound like she is in violation of the parenting plan. If she does not complete a list of actions, then she cannot have visitation. She has not completed the actions, but she is not attempting to have any visitation. Am I correct? There is no connection between the child support order and the parenting plan. A failure to pay child support will have no affect on a person's parental rights.


You can contact the Division of Child Support (DCS) to seek enforcement of the child support order. It does not necessarily mean that they will be successful in collecting from her, but it can create consequences for her, such as suspension of her driver's license, if she does not make arrangements to get current.


As for terminating her parental rights, you cannot do this by simply asking that her name be removed from an order. If you had a second parent (your spouse) on board to adopt and assume financial responsibility for this child, then you may ask the biological mother to sign off on a termination order so that the adoption can occur, or seek the termination through other means (such as default). This cannot be sought unless there is a second parent on board to assume her responsibilities. Otherwise, the State of Washington can seek a termination of parental rights, but they will not do that if your child is not a dependent of the State (which your child is not).


It sounds like the mother is not making any progress toward being able to exercise visits, so as long as she is not being disruptive to you or your child, it is best to just let this sleeping dog lie. I realize there is some anxiety in the uncertainty of the situation. You never know when/if the mother is going to accomplish the pre-requisites in the order and then start asserting her right to visitation. My advice is to cross that bridge when/if you come to it.


Posted on January 3, 2016 at 6:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Q: Theft 3 charge and Solicitation of Prostitution charge: I want to apply as a police officer as I am doing criminal justice in my college. I only had 2 misdemeanor charges and I am kind of worried about them. About 4 years ago I was charged with Theft 3( for a beer in the amount of $3.50) which was dismissed later on when I fighter in the court.

I also got charged with Solicitation of Prostitution ( for giving a lift to women who stopped in front of my car asking for help). We didn't have any sexual contact. Police report also state that we were just driving as soon as she sits in my car and a under cover pulled me over but no sexual contact was made. I was told they often do string operations. When I went to the court I was offered "John School" which I completed successfully with all the requirements and the charge was dismissed.

My question is I have seen postings for police officer jobs where they say any adult misdemeanors could potentially be disqualifier for the position. Does this mean I could never get a job as a P.O. or there is something I can do to get it expunged or sealed. I would like someone to help me out with this right away. Is my solicitation of prostitution charge is a misdemeanor or felony?


A: Jacqueline’s Answer: The legal answer is that you have no convictions to disclose. However, I personally went through the application process to become a police officer (after obtaining a criminal justice degree, but before going to law school). The process I went through was extremely detailed and asked for disclosure of just about everything from my past, as well as my family's past. There was even a polygraph administered exploring these details. On your initial application, it may only ask you to disclose convictions, but be prepared to disclose everything at some point in the process. The fact that you have these events in your past does not necessarily preclude you from being a law enforcement officer, but failure to disclose something that you are asked to disclose will spell certain disaster for your career once it is discovered. I have to be honest, that the combination of these two charges, along with the fact that they are relatively recent, is not going to be easy to overcome when seeking a job in law enforcement. How old were you? The younger you were, the easier it is to chalk it up to being "young and dumb." Also, the more distance (time-wise) you can put between yourself and your last colossal mistake, the better. When you do decide to apply, the most important thing you will want to focus on is what you have been up to since that time? Do you volunteer in your community? Are you doing any special training or getting a specific education that will demonstrate your desire and commitment to work in law enforcement? Have you done any ride-alongs or applied to be a reserve officer? These things will help overcome some mistakes in your past. No applicants have perfect pasts, but disclosure will be essential.


Posted on December 31, 2015 at 1:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Q: What age can the children legally decide not to visit?: I am a father of 3 children ages 9, 11 and 13. They live with there mother in Washington State. I live in South Carolina. I have a court order arrangement to have the children fly to SC for the summer. Latly it has been brought to my attention that there mother has told them they have the right to decide not to visit. That they are old enough to over step the court agreement. Also in the agreement it states that both parents will split the cost of travel. How ever since the devorce I have footed the full cost. And the mother has mentioned if she can't afford her half the kids don't travel.


A: Jacqueline’s Answer: I am going to answer under the assumption that the court order you referred to is a Washington order. As to the first part of your question, there is no "magic" age, aside from the age of majority, where a child can determine where he/she will live. Now, that is the legal answer, but the practical answer gets more complicated as children age. It is extremely difficult to force a 16-year old to stay with a parent that he/she does not want to stay with. There is no clean-cut way to handle this from a practical point of view. Further, it is very difficult to get to the bottom of this because courts frown upon, and often forbid, these types of conversations with the children. How are you suppose to know what they think without talking to them about the case, yet you may not be allowed to talk to them about the case. If you think there is reason to believe that one or more of your children really do not want to have residential time with you, then you may want to schedule some family counseling between you and the children during their next visits. Talking about these things in the presence of a counselor will be much more acceptable to a court.


As to the second part of your question, if there is a court order designating who pays what portion of the transportation costs, and she is in willful violation of that order, then you may bring a motion for a finding that she is in contempt of court and ask for any number of sanctions. This would need to be brought in the county where the order originated.


Posted on December 31, 2015 at 1:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Q: Does he has the right to do this?!: I want to move to a different state with my kids because I have a domestic violence with my daughters father and he is threatening me and causing me emotional stress and my daughters . He trying to make the court to not let me move!!


A: Jacqueline’s answer: If you already have a parenting plan (singed by the Court) in place, then you will have to follow the guidelines laid out in the child relocation act (found in RCW 26.09). The act should be summarized in a section of your parenting plan as well. If you are serious about relocating, then get your "ducks in a row" to increase the chance that a judge would rule in your favor IF the father formally objects to the relocation. Know where you are going to work, where you are going to live, how you are going to support yourself, and where the child will go to school or daycare. Have a plan to propose that will accommodate regular visits between the child and her father and demonstrate a willingness to foster that relationship from a distance. Know how you are going to pay for your portion of transportation for the child's trips to see her father. Keep in mind that, even in the case of domestic violence, if there is no evidence of abuse between the father and the child, then he will likely be entitled to all of the parental rights that a non-custodial parent has. When these relationships become long-distance ones, then the non-custodial parent will usually have less frequent residential time with the child, but the duration of the visits will be much longer. Not just a weekend here and there, but a big chunk of the summer, maybe every spring break, maybe every 3-day weekend, and all or most of winter break (these are just examples). You must be prepared for this. The better prepared you are, the more likely you will be able to convince a judge that your relocation is in the child's best interest. Best of luck.


Posted on December 30, 2015 at 10:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Q: Do I need to get an attorney before the hearing. The hearing is Jan 4.: I was served with a restraining order from both my daughter and her girl friend. There were many false statements made and I need to know if I need an attorney.She is also asking me to surrender my hand gun and license .


A: Jacqueline’s Answer: You will definitely want representation at this hearing. Unfortunately, what you are describing sounds like a civil restraining order so you will not be entitled to a court-appointed attorney at public expense. If you need more time to hire a private attorney, you can appear at the hearing on the 4th and ask the judge to continue the hearing date out in order to give you time to hire counsel. The date could probably be set out about two weeks. Keep in mind that if there is currently a temporary (ex parte) retaining order in place, that order will remain in full force and effect until the new court date.  You will want to be especially careful if the basis for the restraiing order could also result in criminal charges.  You do not want to go to this hearing and make a bunch of statements that could later be used against you.


Posted on December 30, 2015 at 10:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Q: Will I get in trouble with WA if I have a drug test positive for marijuana use while on house arrest?: After a probation violation in WA, I was sentenced to 300 days house arrest. There were no other conditions written besides that I must serve 300 days, which I am serving through a private home monitoring service in CA (this was approved by the judge and WA state PO). For some medical conditions I was recommended by a doctor to use medical marijuana. The home monitoring agency said that it would not be a problem with them, but it was up to WA.

A: Jacqueline’s answer: The answer to this lies in the judgement and sentence that you were given on the day you resolved your case. I am assuming you pleaded, but maybe you were convicted at trial. The terms that were laid out in that document are still applicable unless the judge specifically amended them with an order. If you were ordered not to use or possess marijuana, then you will have a new probation violation to deal with if marijuana is detected in a drug test. The judge does not have to re-issue those terms when he or she sentences you on a probation violation.


Posted on December 30, 2015 at 6:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Is the AVVO Attorney Ratings System Helpful?

Yes, but not on its own. AVVO ranks attorneys on a scale from 1 to 10. They use academic information and peer recognition as factors in their ratings system. Things that will increase an attorney’s AVVO rating: having a letter published in a legal newsletter, holding a position in a legal organization, putting a link to AVVO on the attorney’s own website (which I have done).

Things that will NOT affect an attorney’s rating: the attorney’s trial record, client reviews, or any “wins” of any kind on any case. So basically, an attorney who has never tried a case, or who has lost every case s/he has ever tried, could have a 10 rating on AVVO, while an attorney who has tried hundreds of cases, and won, may have a 5. Just for kicks, I went on AVVO and looked up three criminal defense attorneys in Spokane. I chose the three that I would consider the best, based upon trial experience and results. All three had average ratings.

Think of it as if you were looking for a cosmetic surgeon. You would value the fact that the surgeon has published articles or holds positions on boards, correct? Of course! But you also want to know that the surgeon actually performs surgery - the kind you are seeking - regularly. And you want to know the outcomes of those surgeries. That is the element that AVVO is missing in its ratings system. It does not give any weight to actual job performance (or lack of).

So, is AVVO entirely worthless? No, but use it with caution. Do not rely entirely on AVVO’s rating system to determine if an attorney is the right practitioner for your case. Attorneys do not have any choice about whether or not they will appear on AVVO. AVVO uses public information to create a profile for every licensed attorney in the country. If an attorney wants to ensure that the information in that profile is accurate and current, then the attorney must claim his/her profile and provide the content. This content can be very helpful when consumers are researching an attorney. Further, AVVO allows consumers to write reviews of the attorney. These reviews can be helpful to consumers, but again, use caution, as AVVO does not have a system for keeping fake reviews from being published. A fake scathing review could be posted by a disgruntled opposing party, while a fake glowing review could be posted by the attorney’s parents.

The take away? AVVO can be a helpful tool in finding attorneys in your area, but don’t limit your research to AVVO or its ratings system. Ask people you know for their recommendations based upon their experiences. Or, even better, if you know someone (or know someone who knows someone) that works in the court system in which your case will be heard, ask them for the inside-scoop on the reputation of the attorney you are researching. Has this attorney tried cases? What is his/ her local reputation? This is important because, I think we can all agree, top performance is what most of us really want from an attorney.


Can I go to my first appearance without an attorney?

Posted on July 7, 2015 at 1:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Q: Can I go to my first court appearance without an attorney?


A: You are not always taken into custody (jail) when you are arrested. Sometimes, the officer issues you a citation for the crime, which either includes a date that you are to appear in court, OR gives you a deadline to make arrangements for that first appearance. The following applies to those instances.


1. This first appearance is called an arraignment. What happens here?

The arraignment is the hearing where the judge will determine if there is probable cause to proceed with the charges. If probable cause is determined to exist, then you will be expected to enter a plea of "guilty" or "not guilty." The judge will also set "release conditions" which you must abide by until your case is resolved (at a later hearing).


2. Will I be taken into custody (jail) at this hearing?

Probably not. If you do not have any outstanding warrants, and if this new charge is not a probation violation from another charge, then you will not be taken into custody. The hearing will be quick and uneventful. The longest part of the hearing is waiting until it is your turn for your hearing.


3. Do I need an attorney at this hearing?

If the charge is a DUI or a Domestic Violence charge, it is best to have an attorney present with you at this hearing. There will be public defense attorneys present, and you may be able to consult with them if you qualify financially. If you do not qualify for a public defender, then you will need to hire private counsel. It is best if you can hire your attorney PRIOR to the arraignment so he/she can be present with you in case there is an argument to be made against the finding of probable cause, or to argue against any release conditions that are unreasonable or unnecessary. If the charge is a misdemeanor OTHER than a DUI or Domestic Violence, then an attorney can submit a Notice of Appearance and a Plea of "not guilty" on your behalf prior to the hearing date and the hearing would be waived.


4. What if I cannot hire an attorney prior to my arraignment?

If it is not possible to have an attorney prior to your arraignment, you may go alone. It is IMPERATIVE that you resist the temptation to defend yourself at this hearing. Do not say ANYTHING other than to verify your name and address and to enter your plea of "not guilty." Any explanation you attempt to give will most likely harm your case, as most "explanations" constitute "confessions." Just be patient, enter your plea, get your next court date, and then go hire an attorney. There will be plenty of time for explanations later.

Minimum Sentence on Trespass Charge?

Posted on June 23, 2015 at 2:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Q: What is the minimum sentence for criminal trespass?: It was from breaking a self-bar at a casino that we thought only lasted a year (apparently it was a lifetime bar).


A: Jacqueline’s Answer: There is no mandatory minimum sentence for a trespass charge. Under the RCWs if you are charged with First Degree Criminal Trespass, that is a gross misdemeanor that carries a maximum of one year in jail and a $5000 fine. Second Degree Criminal Trespass is a simple misdemeanor that carries a maximum of 90 days in jail and a $1000 fine. There are many ways to resolve your case that would not involve these maximum sentences, but it depends on what evidence is available and whether or not you have any criminal history.  HOWEVER, since this involved a casino, the Revised Code of Washington may not be the law that applies; it may be tribal law, in which case, you will need to consult with an attorney familiar with tribal law and tribal courts.

Theft 3, What will happen at my court date?

Posted on June 23, 2015 at 2:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Q: I got theft 3 whats probably going to happen?: I have never been in trouble with law before i have a clean record..but the other day i had no way to get money and stole a box of diapers from wal-mart in w.a..i have court tomorrow and im curious as to how much trouble i am going to be in. so i am prepared and to what i can do to help myself..I am so humiliated to even be in this situation. i have never done anything like this,


A: Jacqueline's Answer: Your upcoming hearing is probably an arraignment. That is where you enter a plea of guilty or not-guilty and are given your next court date. There are almost always public defenders available at arraignments, and if you qualify financially, you can talk to them before you enter your plea. As long as you have no warrants and this is not a probation violation on another charge, you will not be taken into custody. The hearing will be quick and uneventful. Whether you qualify for a public defender or not, you will want to make sure you have an attorney representing you before your next court date as Theft 3 is a gross misdemeanor that carries up to a $5000 fine and up to a year in jail. There are many ways to resolve a case like yours and avoid any jail time, but you will need an experienced attorney to help you.

Should I recant my statement?

Posted on June 23, 2015 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Q: What can i do to make sure my bf doesn't go to jail and to keep his record clean? Should i hire someone?: My bf and I got into an arguement and someone called the cops. Now My bf is being charged w/domestic violence to the 4th degree and violating the peace. I can't exactly remember if I touched him by moving his hair back during our argument or not. He did touch me briefly but not agressivley. There were no bruises or marks. His case was filed and his pre trial is next month. I gave my statement to the police and i am thinking about recanting it. I also started going to counseling recently cuz before this the doctor suggested to go and now i am. Is there a possibly for me to recant my statement without being punished by the law? And should i hire a attoney for him? There is currently a no contact order between us. Or maybe i can plead the 5th and not testify? I don't know which to do


A: Jacqueline’s Answer: You situation is quite common. You boyfriend ABSOLUTELY needs an attorney representing him. This will all come down to what evidence is available. Are there any witnesses aside from you and your boyfriend? Did the police witness any signs of injury on either of you? You can certainly recant your statement, but keep in mind that this happens all the time. You will not get in trouble for recanting, but it will not make your original statements "go away." Strangely, the Fifth Amendment is not available to you in this case, as you are not the one "in jeopardy." In other words, you are not the one facing charges. The most important thing you can do is to hire an attorney for your boyfriend and let that attorney analyze the case and the evidence and make a determination on whether recanting your story will help or harm the situation.

Warrant Status?

Posted on June 18, 2015 at 4:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Q: I think I have a bench warrant? How do I know before going to court house?: Vancouver, Clark County, Washington

A: Jacqueline’s Answer: If you have an attorney, your attorney can find out your warrant status. If not, CALL the clerk's office (do not go in) and ask them. If you have a warrant, you will want to set up a hearing called a bench warrant recall hearing. It is best if you can have an attorney help you with this.