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REAL Questions and Answers:

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.

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).

Asked 30 minutes ago in Criminal Defense

A: Jacqueline’s Answer: There is no mandatory minimum sentence for a trespass charge. 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.

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.

Q: What will happen if i missed my day to report to jail? I was sentenced to do 3 days with the rest suspended.: I was supposed to report to jail and do 3 days with the rest suspended because i wasmt wasn't able to finish my community service on time. Besides issuing a warrant, will they now give me more time than the original 3 days?

A: Jacqueline’s Answer: It is probably that a "return to court" order has been issued, requiring you to appear in court and "show cause" why your probation should not be revoked for failure to comply with the terms of your sentence. It is best to be proactive and not wait for that order. What the sanction for this violation will be will depend greatly on why you failed to report. If you failed to report because you were in the hospital, then there will likely be no sanction. If you failed to report because you didn't have a ride to the jail, then you will likely be sanctioned with extra days in jail. Either way, the longer you ignore this, the worse it is going to get. Get an attorney to help you get back on track here.

Q: How long does a store have to charge you with theft if you were never caught, but might have you on video?: Regardless of the excuse, I had a chemical imbalance that was causing me to do reckless things, I am now under a counselor and medication, but made a lot of mistakes at different stores in my town. Now even a year later what looks to be security follows me. How long can they charge me even though I was never "caught and how long can they follow me?

A: Jacqueline’s Answer: The store does not have the power to charge you with a crime. The store can only report the suspected incident to law enforcement for an investigation. Keep in mind that "investigation" can be as simple as viewing a video or asking a few questions. Law enforcement turn their investigation over to the prosecutor's office, and the prosecutor decides whether or not to charge you. In this case, the prosecutor would have up to two years from the date of the incident to bring charges. As for how long loss prevention officers can treat you with suspicion? That is entirely up to loss prevention. They can watch and follow whomever they see fit. They can even give you notice that you are not allowed to come back on the store premises. It sounds like you have made some changes in your life. The best thing you can do is to keep up the good work.

Q: Can I sue winco lose prevention for injury and PTSD?: After finishing my shopping I was stopped and detained by lose prevention a t Winco, accusing me of stealing $5.81 worth of merchandise. in the process of detaining me, I had my arms reefed up behind me and was pushed face first into a wall. I had not been resisting just merely questioning who and what this was all about. after telling them that I had placed any items I was not getting on a shelf, they grabbed my purse riffled thru it and pulled out two items. I was insulted, talk down to and called names by one of the officers.

A: Jacqueline’s Answer: I have seen others get injured by loss prevention officers as well. It is totally egregious, but unfortunately, it has little bearing on whether or not you will be criminally charged and what the result of those charges might be. Your injuries are an entirely separate issue that may be addressed by an attorney that is experienced in personal injury. If you are charged, your criminal defense attorney will want to focus on the merits of your defense, rather than the injuries. I know it feels unjust, but these two issues must be handled separately.

Q: What do I need to do? How can I get more information about the charges? What happens if I do not return to Washington?: I just received notice that I have been charged with Theft 2 in King County. I don't know any more about the case except that I've already missed one arraignment hearing because I currently live out of state and the length of time it took to forward the mail to my new location. The next scheduled arraignment hearing is in a week's time.

A: Jacqueline’s answer: If missed the arraignment then a warrant was probably issued for your arrest. The warrant will remain in effect until you either appear in-person, or an attorney gets the warrant recalled and sets a hearing for you to appear in-person. If you do not return to Washington to address this warrant, then you will not be able to get a drivers license in the state that you moved to, as the warrant will hold up your license. Many people remain out-of-state on warrant status, some for long periods of time, but the inability to get a drivers license ultimately makes that arrangement unsustainable. You are much better off hiring an attorney to help you face the charges so you can get it behind you.

Q: Caught shoplifting. Any help: Ic was caught stealing makeup from sephora. My friend was with me but she didn't steal anything. We left the store but a lp lady came after us and asked us to walk back in. We said no, then she grabbed onto my arm and forced me inside. She said she knew I stole and then I told her we would pay for it. I tried to grab the stuff out of my bag but she wouldn't let me. I asked her to let go of me and then she put me in handcuffs and dragged me to the back. Took everything out of my purse and my friend asked if she could call her lawyer and the lady threatened to call the police. She said we were being detained and we couldn't contact anyone. She took copies of our licenses. Took photos and tried getting us to sign a paper pleading guilty but we said no. I'm scared of going to jail

A: Jacqueline’s answer: There is a lot to this scenario. The most pressing issue, assuming you are over 18, is that you could be charged with theft. Alternatively, you could receive a letter from the store, demanding that you pay them a civil fee. Either way, there is nothing you can do until you are either criminally charged, or receive that letter. If either of those things happen, you are going to want the help of an attorney immediately. As for the LP officer detaining you and taking copies of your license, that is a murky area but I do not think there will be a strong argument that your rights were violated. Assuming that Sephora is a private company, as opposed to a government agency, then your constitutional rights do not apply. I know that sounds strange, but it is true. Your constitutional rights only come into play against government action - not the actions of private citizens. Keep your focus on defending yourself if you are charged. An experienced attorney can minimize the impact of the charges. Best of luck.

Q: Can a non lawyer see a log of what vehicle (whether marked) a Tacoma,WA policeman was driving in Jan 2012?: Is there a public record, or log, I, or someone could look at, to see what police car, (unmarked, or fully marked), a Tacoma police officer was driving 8:30pm Jan 12, 2012? Do cops get promoted in Tacoma by how many felonies they write or convict in Tacoma,WA? My friend was charged with running away from a cop,a felony, and a DUI. I don't think the police car was marked, but can't prove it. The officer drove a dark car. They had another marked cop car come in behind him and turn their siren on, and then swarmed him, and said it was a chase. The CAD(911) report had a U23 for his name. Is the U code for unmarked? 

A: Jacqueline’s Answer: If such a record exits, then it should be available to anyone through a public records request. If your friend's attorney discerns that such a record would be helpful, then he/she can subpoena the record, which is a much faster process than a public records request. The questions you ask are understandable, but I do not think the direction you are going is a viable defensive strategy. Does your friend have an attorney? An experienced attorney can help your friend direct his energy into the best defense possible.

Q: How much will a misdemeanor affect my chances of getting a good job?: I have a reckless driving conviction. My first and last offense. I keep reading and hearing stories its hard to get a job and that you can only get low paying ones. I go to school for a line of work that involves travel(not driving). Should I change my major? Is it true this one mark bans me from any kind of professional career or a job that pays decent?

A: Jacqueline’s answer: In my experience, if you are not seeking a driving-related job then a reckless driving conviction will have minimal impact on your career. Many agencies have a list of crimes and negative actions that will limit or prohibit employment, and Reckless Driving is not even on many of those lists.

Q:  Catch 22? Is a judge not obligated to follow the offer made to me by the prosecution as set forth in a plea agreement as the whole basis to me agreeing to plead guilty? Otherwise why would I agree to accept the offer and plead guilty? If the judge refuses to adhere to the offer made to me by the prosecutor BEFORE accepting the offer as set forth in the plea "AGREEMENT" and pleading guilty then going to court is much like going to the casino where as the odds are always in the dealer's favor, I risk gambling on the judge's final call as well. I mean it is a plea "AGREEMENT" right? So, how can they offer this to me if the judge hasn't AGREED to this so called (plea) AGREEMENT? So, what ARE my options if the judge overrules the prosecutor's recommendation?

A:  Jacqueline's Answer:   The judge is not bound by the agreement that you came to with the prosecutor. The judge can give you anything up to the maximum allowed by statute. It is EXTREMELY important that you have an attorney that can explain this to you and that can calculate the risk of entering a plea in front of a judge (who does not have to follow the recommendation). A good attorney will do everything possible to convince the judge to follow the agreement, but you must understand the risks before you enter a plea.

Q:  Reckless driving with prior dui how do I not lose my license. Ok I know there is a loophole but I forgot how it works. You request a hearing but send the request somewhere before and have them forward it on to the DOL. Can someone help me out exactly what I need to do? Thanks

A:  Jacqueline's Answer:   It is essential that you have an attorney to help you with this. Were you charged with a DUI and it was amended to a Reckless, or were you actually charged with the Reckless? If you were charged with DUI, then you will need to send the hearing request to the DOL with payment within 20 days of your arrest or your right to a hearing is waived. If you were charged with Reckless and you have a prior DUI, then my biggest concern for you would be whether or not you have any other major driving crimes on your record (such as DWLS 2nd), that could put you at risk of being habitualized. This is a very complicated area of law and I cannot stress enough that you need the help of an attorney that is EXPERIENCED in this area.

Q:  How to get a formal "Order of Dismissal" document at district court in Washington? Guilty Plea on Disorderly Conduct and enter into Deferred Sentence and later Dismissal after 2 years as per Washington State Law without a formal order of dismissal. How can I get formal dismissal order, that needs for immigration as a supporting document?

A:  Jacqueline's Answer:   I have found that some counties do not draft a formal order of dismissal, but instead rely on docket text as the official record. If you go to the clerk of the court, they should be able to print the docket text that shows that your charge has been dismissed and the case is closed. The clerk may also have a declaration that he/he can sign stating that the docket text is the official record of the dismissal and that there is no other order available.

Q: What do I do if I committed theft 3rd while under the influence but has since gotten help?  They have issued 2 warrants for 25,000 and I was planning on turning myself in on another charge by the end of the month. Can I get the warrants dropped since I had a drug habit as why I was stealing but have since gotten help from two doctors?

A:  Jacqueline's Answer:   There are a couple of different questions here. Can you get the warrants dropped? Probably. Have an attorney help you see if you can get those warrant recalled and set a new hearing date. As to the bearing that the former drug habit has on the case? This is probably significant. A prosecutor and judge may very likely be persuaded by the fact that you committed a crime while you were under the influence, but you have since sought help and no longer use. It is not necessarily going to prevent the state from proceeding with prosecution, but it may have an influence on how your case is resolved. Either way, you will need an experienced attorney to help you.