What should I do if a police officer wants to talk to me?

Tell the officer you are invoking your right to REMAIN SILENT! There’s a reason that you have a Constitutional right to remain silent and a right to have an attorney present when questioned by the police—anything you say can and usually is used in court against you.

It’s human nature to try and explain yourself and the police use that to their advantage by trying to get you to talk—don’t. The police are not going to “give you a break” simply because you admit what you did or tell your version of events. If you are arrested and want to speak after invoking your right to remain silent–ask for an attorney, tell the officer “I want to speak with an attorney.” You have a right to remain silent. Use it.

What are Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs)?

Voluntary Tests that the officer asks you to perform, so he can make an assessment on whether to arrest you or not for DUI: the Walk and Turn, One Leg Stand, and Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test (follow an object with your eyes where the officer looks for involuntary twitching of the eyes at different angles) are most often used in WA. An officer may also ask you to recite the Alphabet forwards or backwards, or some other test. All of these tests are voluntary and should NEVER be performed. Regardless of how the officer phrases the request (he/she usually says it in a way that makes it seem like a command), you do not have to perform FSTs.

If I feel fine, should I do FSTs?

NEVER do FSTs. NEVER! FSTs are completely voluntary and your performance is scored critically by the officer (it’s easy to fail), so never do them even if you feel fine.

What should I do if the officer disrespects me?

Do not engage in name calling or any other disrespectful behavior…let your attorney handle it in court. You can also file a formal complaint with the police department, but consult with your attorney before taking any action.

How do you determine how much to charge clients?

All Washington attorneys must charge reasonable fees. I charge a flat fee in criminal cases, which means no hourly charges. I generally consider the type of charge, the case specific facts, a potential client’s previous criminal history, and the likelihood of the case going to trial.

Do you charge extra for driving to a faraway court?

No, a flat fee is a flat fee.

What happens at an Arraignment?

You will receive a copy of the criminal complaint, which outlines the charge(s) and the elements of the charge(s) that the prosecution must prove at trial beyond a reasonable doubt. You will enter a plea of NOT guilty. The judge will address the issue of bail (whether you should be released or taken into custody while waiting for your next court date). Finally, you will get notice of your next court date.

Do I have to show up for every criminal court hearing?

Yes, unless told otherwise by your attorney and the judge. If you do not attend your scheduled hearing, the judge may and likely will issue a bench warrant for your arrest.

Why should I hire you when you won’t guarantee getting me off?

Under Washington law, an attorney in Washington state cannot guarantee any outcome.

Why should I hire a private attorney when I can get a Public Defender?

As a prerequisite to be assigned a public defender, you have to qualify financially. If you earn more than a certain amount a month, you may not qualify. Another consideration is caseload. Public defenders generally have large caseloads and may or may not be able to give your case the attention it deserves. Conversely, I always give my client’s case my personal and extended attention, which helps when interviewing witnesses, writing legal briefs to exclude evidence etc., negotiating with the prosecutor, and trial preparation.