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HOW DO I GET A NEW JUDGE?

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

QUESTION: The judge hates me. How do I get a new judge?


8SL ANSWER: If you truly believe that you cannot have a fair hearing in front of a particular judge, there is a process to have your case assigned to another judge. The problem is that there is a very small window of time that one can exercise this option. It has to be done BEFORE the judge has made any rulings on your case. In other words, you have to already believe that this particular judge cannot be unbiased in your case BEFORE the judge has even heard any part of your case. This is quite a conundrum, but you can see why it works this way. Continuity and consistency is essential to a well-functioning court system so we cannot have people changing judges every time they don’t like a ruling. Remember that in virtually EVERY instance, one party does not like the ruling. (When the Chicago Bulls play the NY Knicks, one team still walks away losing, even if they both played a great game).

 

If you have missed the opportunity to change judges, then you have only one viable option left and that is to change the judge’s mind about you. It CAN be done, but you will have to put some work into it. Hope this helps!

Where do I file a case if a parent leaves the state with the child?

Posted on December 6, 2017 at 8:45 PM Comments comments (0)

QUESTION: My child (age 5) was born and lived in King county until a few months ago when her mom left the state with her and hasn't come back. What county in WA do I need to file my case in, or does it not matter since she is no longer in WA?

 

8SL ANSWER: I am going to assume that you do NOT already have a parenting plan in place in WA or any other state. If you want your case heard in WA then file HERE, file NOW, and get her served ASAP. Six consecutive months is the "magic" amount of time that a child has to reside in a given state in order for that state to have jurisdiction over the child for purposes of a parenting plan. That six-month clock stops ticking once you have filed your Petition AND served her. If you can get this part done (just the filing/serving part) before that six-month threshold is met, then you have an excellent chance of keeping jurisdiction here in WA (and you can file in whatever county is most convenient for you). Once the child's mother has resided with the child in whatever state she is in for six months, she can file a petition there. If that happens, it is not the end of the world; but you will definitely want to hire an attorney in whatever state/county she files in. Hope this helps!

Mother left the state with child, where do I file my case?

Posted on December 6, 2017 at 8:40 PM Comments comments (0)

QUESTION:  My child (age 5) was born and lived in King county until a few months ago when her mom left the state with her and hasn't come back.  What county in WA do I need to file my case in, or does it not matter since she is no longer in WA?

8SL ANSWER:   I am going to assume that you do NOT already have a parenting plan in place in WA or any other state. If you want your case heard in WA then file HERE, file NOW, and get her served ASAP. Six consecutive months is the "magic" amount of time that a child has to reside in a given state in order for that state to have jurisdiction over the child for purposes of a parenting plan. That six-month clock stops ticking once you have filed your Petition AND served her. If you can get this part done (just the filing/serving part) before that six-month threshold is met, then you have an excellent chance of keeping jurisdiction here in WA (and you can file in whatever county is most convenient for you). Once the child's mother has resided with the child in whatever state she is in for six months, she can file a petition there. If that happens, it is not the end of the world; but you will definitely want to hire an attorney in whatever state/county she files in. Hope this helps!

Does my spouse have a claim to my inheritance?

Posted on December 4, 2017 at 6:00 PM Comments comments (0)

QUESTION:  I live in the State of Washington. My father recently died, and I stand to inherit some money. Does my husband have a legal right to half of it? What if we divorce? 


8SL ANSWER:  Let me start by saying that WA is not a "50/50" state, as many believe. Rather, we are a community property state where a court must divide the assets EQUITABLY. Note, that I did not say EQUALLY. Here in WA, an inheritance is presumed to be the separate property of the inheriting spouse, but it is not always that simple for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that in a divorce in WA, a judge has access to ALL property (both community and separate) and can award one party all or a portion of the other spouse's separate property. This is usually only done when it is necessary in order to ensure that the asset distribution is equitable. Let me give you an example: Let's say a couple has been married for 30 years and their community property has a total value of $100,000 and one spouse has a separate property inheritance of $1,000,000. If the court were to divide this community property EQUALLY (50/50) and allow each party to keep 100% of their separate property, then the couple would part ways after 30 years with one spouse having a net worth of $50,000 while the other has a net worth of $1,050,000. This is not EQUITABLE, even though the community property was divided EQUALLY. In a case like this, it is extremely likely that a court would either award the non-inheriting spouse a portion of the inheritance, OR award the non-inheriting spouse a disproportionate share of the community property. A scenario like this is much less likely to occur in a short-term marriage, than it is in a long-term marriage. The second reason this is not always simple is that sometimes a spouse will receive an inheritance and then "comingle" those funds with the community funds. For example, a spouse inherits $100,000 and deposits those funds into a joint saving account that contains community funds. The couple then uses this account for community expenditures such as vacations, household expenses, debt, etc. SOMETIMES the funds can be "traced" back to their original source, but sometimes they are so comingled that there is no way to determine which expenditures were made with community funds and which were made with the inheritance. In these scenarios, the inheriting spouse does not get "reimbursed" for the expenditures that were made with the inherited funds. Does that make sense? Hope this helps!

RESTORATION OF GUN RIGHTS

Posted on November 29, 2017 at 10:45 AM Comments comments (0)

QUESTION: I had a felony convection in another state. I have resided in Washington State for the past 10 years. I recently had my gun rights restored by the Superior Court of King County. I went to purchase a firearm a couple of weeks ago but was denied. Why was I denied when my rights have been restored?



8SL ANSWER: This is a great question and it exposes one of the biggest challenges people face once they have their gun rights restored. First, when you have your civil right to possess firearms restored here in Washington, that restoration only applies here in Washington, meaning that your rights have not been restored as to other states or as to the federal government. So if you are hunting, you will need to hunt in WA and only on private or state land (NOT federal land). However, the biggest challenge one faces after having their gun rights restored is how they are going to OBTAIN a firearm. Remember that when you go to a dealer, that dealer is presumably going to follow both state AND federal laws when selling firearms, which means that they are still precluded from selling you a firearm. State and federal statutes also prohibit anyone (even a private citizen) from giving you a firearm, or lending you a firearm, or in any way "transferring" a firearm to you. RCW 9.41.113(4)(a) has attempted to address this problem by expanding the exceptions to the prohibition on "transferring" a firearm to an ineligible person. An attorney who is active and current in this practice area can help you understand if one of these exceptions may be helpful to you. This is a rapidly changing area of law and there may only be a handful of attorneys who are staying on the cutting edge of this topic. It looks like you're in King County, so you may want to do a search on AVVO or call the King County Bar Association for a recommendation of an attorney in your area that can help you with this. Best of luck.

Will my epilepsy hurt my chances of keeping custody?

Posted on November 28, 2017 at 1:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Question: I'm epileptic my medications are controlled. My baby is a year old and is still on formula and bottles but my ex wants to take custody away from me. Can my epilepsy be used against me in court?



8SL Answer: I hear similar scenarios all the time, where one parent is threatening to “take custody” or “take the kids away.” Let me assure you that, absent some major parenting deficiencies on your part (debilitating drug use or physical abuse of the child are examples), NO ONE can legally take your child away from you. On the flip side of that, the same applies for the child’s father. BOTH parents will have a right to residential time with the child. In most cases, the child resides the majority of the time with one parent, and resides the remainder of the time with the other. Here in Washington, parenting plans are governed by RCW 26.09.184. In sum, the statute says the following: The purpose of a parenting plan is to 1) provide for the child’s physical care, 2) maintain the child’s emotional stability, 3) provide for the child’s changing needs as s/he grows (so as to avoid the need for future modifications to the plan), 4) allot decision-making authority to each parent (usually regarding non-emergency medical care, education, and religious upbringing), and 5) to minimize the child’s exposure to conflict between the parents. If your epilepsy does not adversely affect the child with regards to any of the above criteria, then it should have minimal, if any, impact on your parenting plan. Hope this helps!


Who Can Be In The Courtroom During a Hearing?

Posted on November 27, 2017 at 4:20 PM Comments comments (0)
Question:  My husband cheated on me and moved in with woman he cheated with. Can he bring her to our court hearing?


8SL Answer:  Court rooms are almost always "open" to the public, meaning that anyone can be in there during the hearing. There are a few exceptions, but the one I see most often is at a hearing or trial where witnesses will be giving live testimony. In those cases, anyone who is going to be testifying is usually excluded from the courtroom until after their testimony. The openness of courtrooms is an essential part of transparency in our judicial system, but it can sure feel invasive when it is YOUR business that is being aired publicly. You are going to need a game plan for how you are going to handle this. It is SO EASY for emotions to get out of control in these situations and that does not serve anyone. I recommend that you bring as much of your own support to your hearings as possible. If you have friends/family that can come to your hearings, then have them there. Even having one person in the court room on your behalf can be so comforting. There is nothing legally to be done about this woman or the role she has played in the ending of your marriage. Surround yourself with people that make you feel loved and comfortable and put all of your energy and focus on THEM and none on her. I am sorry you are going through this, but hang in there. It gets better, I promise.

Probation Violation

Posted on November 27, 2017 at 3:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Question: I was caught with marijuana and the judge gave me probation but I got a violation due to missing a meeting with my probation officer. What can I do?


Jacqueline's Answer: It is very rare that a state would extradite a person on a misdemeanor warrant, but the states are certainly capable of it if they are so inclined. You are presumably on warrant status for the violation (meaning that you probably have an active warrant for your arrest in the state where the charge originated). You MUST get this taken care of. I am less concerned about the possibility of you being extradited than I am about the problems you are going to run into when you go to renew (or obtain) a driver's license. You will find out that it cannot be done, and living on warrant status with no driver's license is taking a conviction for a relatively minor crime and turning it into enormous hassle for yourself. Further, if you leave the country you will most likely be detained at the border/airport when you try to return. This is not going to go away. Here's what you need to do: 1) Don't freak out. This CAN be fixed. 2) Get a lawyer. If you were represented by counsel on the underlying charge, you can contact him or her to get them on board to help you. If you were represented by a public defender, you can contact that person directly but each agency/office has their own process by which a client can get in for a meeting, so you may not have a lot of control over when you meet with them. For this reason, if you can afford it, you can contact private counsel and schedule a meeting or phone consult. 3) Get the warrant recalled and set a new court date for which YOU MUST APPEAR. Prior to the court date, your attorney should be working with the prosecutor to come to an agreement on what your sanction will be. I know it seems overwhelming, and you are probably nervous about what the sanction will be, but you have an attorney helping you, the whole process should be pretty manageable. Just bite the bullet, face it head-on, and then move on with your life. Best of luck to you.

Can Police Get a Search Warrant Even if I Consent to the Search?

Posted on November 23, 2017 at 12:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Question:  My friend was at my house and the cops came looking for him. They thought my friend had left a stolen item in my car. I told them I would give them the item from my car, but they got a search warrant to search my car anyway. Can they get a warrant even if I offered to give them the item? Can they search my house, too?


Jacqueline's Answer:  Yes, law enforcement can obtain a warrant any time they can convince a judge that they have probable cause to believe that there is evidence of a crime in a given location (even if that evidence is on/in your body, such as blood, DNA, etc) and even if you have consented to the search. They do need to be specific as to the location they plan to search. If the warrant only allows them to search your car, then they cannot search your home without another warrant allowing it. Some agencies may have an internal policy requiring it's officers to seek warrants whenever possible, even if there is consent. Either way, any time you are the subject of a criminal investigation, you may be tempted to be open and cooperative with law enforcement, even if you do not have an attorney present. In most instances, this one included, I advise cooperation with law enforcement ONLY if an attorney is helping you and is present any time you are speaking with investigators. Best of luck.

Parenting Plan and No Contact Order

Posted on November 21, 2017 at 2:55 PM Comments comments (0)


Question:  There is a no contact order issued by the State to protect me from ex. Now he refuses to help taking the kids to out of town tournaments, which he had agreed on the decree, unless I lift up the order from him. What can I do? I do not wish to have the order taken off.


Jacqueline's Answer:  Right now it sounds like you have two potentially conflicting orders in existence. Your parenting plan sets out your ex's rights and responsibilities as to your children, but the no contact order (presumably issued in a criminal court, rather than family court) likely makes performance of his rights and obligations under the parenting plan impossible. I am assuming that your children are not protected parties under the no contact order, but when one parent is restrained from having contact with the other parent, it can make sharing the parenting responsibilities very tricky. The good news is that this scenario is not all thaw unique; in fact it's quite common. Depending on the length of the No Contact Order, you and your ex may need to get back into mediation or family court and make some changes to your parenting plan so that both orders (the parenting plan and the No Contact Order) can be followed. This does not mean that you need to change the actual residential schedule, but you can build in rights, responsibilities, and communication methods that will help you and your ex parent your children together, while still honoring the No Contact Order. I hope this helps.

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 (1)

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. http://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=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.


CHARGED WITH THEFT. IT WAS NOT INTENTIONAL. WHAT CAN I DO?

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.

CAN I REMOVE MY EX FROM A PARENTING PLAN ORDER FOR FAILURE TO PAY CHILD SUPPORT?

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.

CAN I APPLY TO BE A POLICE OFFICER IF I HAVE PRIOR CHARGES?

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.


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