What Happens If I Miss a Court Date (Failure to Appear)?

Court cases can take a long time. Even if you are involved in a simple legal case, the sheer time for case resolution can be demanding for all participants. If you happen to be a defendant, the prosecuting attorneys can and will use every tool at their disposal to ensure the best outcome for them. That includes painting you as a scofflaw who should be considered guilty based on your absence alone. A crucial consideration here is having a competent, principled advocate on your side to defend you from these rather gray area tactics.

As a defendant, you are likely to be called to appear in court several times before the case is resolved. Missing a mandatory court date can result in the judge issuing a bench warrant for your arrest. A bench warrant means the defendant will be arrested to ensure their appearance in court. Although this is legal, is it just?

Often, people have commitments that they need to maintain, like their jobs or taking care of someone in your care. If this results in a missed court date, the courts and the prosecuting attorneys have a toolbox full of additional charges they can use to make the defendant’s life tougher. Failure to appear can result in “bail jumping” charges and even considering the absence as “flight evidence.” Flight evidence implies that failure to appear means that you are habitually trying to avoid appearing in court because you know that you are guilty of the charges. Quite a stretch, wouldn’t you say? And not exactly in line with “guilty until proven innocent.”

But the Washington Supreme Court has ruled that missing a single appearance is not an indication of willful avoidance, especially when the defendant showed for their next appearance. The court essentially clarified the definition of “flight evidence” and noted that it should be used when it can be established that a person has consciousness of guilt. This is as opposed to a blanket punishment for not appearing in court.

Being a defendant in a legal case can be overwhelming and stressful. That said, most of the issues that can result from failure to appear can be avoided by keeping a solid line of communication with legal counsel. By appearing in court and reassuring the court of the nature of the absence, the likelihood of complications arising are greatly reduced.

Washington State Reclassifies Drug Possession as Misdemeanor

Washington State Supreme Court strikes down felony drug possession law as unconstitutional. Redefined as misdemeanor. Gov. Jay Inslee (D) signed legislation on Thursday to recriminalize simple possession as a misdemeanor.

Washington State Legislature Reestablishes Criminal Penalties

Requires individuals to be referred to eval and possible treatment for first two offenses. Alots $100 million for disorder treatment, outreach, recovery.

At a signing ceremony Thursday, Inslee called the legislation “a much more appropriate and successful way to address the needs that underlie drug abuse.” He did veto a portion of the bill (Section 21) that would have created a new penalty and had that penalty go into the new account that was created. Activity in the account is funded by the state General Fund.

“This legislation will help reduce the disparate impact of the previous drug possession statute on people of color,” he said. “It moves the system from responding to possession as a felony to focusing on the behavioral health response.”

The law will stand for two years and then legislators will have to pass new laws on drug possession. However the Recovery Navigator program which is being established statewide, will remain in place. Program connects people with drug disorders to a wide range of recovery care resources.

The advocacy group Treatment First WA has been at the forefront of decriminalization efforts in Washington State. Though a 2020 campaign failed due to complications in getting needed signatures during COVID crises, the group attempted to get broader treatment-first initiatives passed in 2021. The measure passed the House committee but ran out of time and didn’t meet the legislative deadline.

Moderates and conservatives insisted that simply removing penalties would leave people with little motive to get treatment. These penalties, they argue, set a standard that wouldn’t be subverted by local anti-drug laws. Such an eventuality would leave a hodge-podge of laws that would be confusing and difficult to enforce.

State legislators are hopeful that even more progressive measures can be signed into law once the benefits of the current programs become evident. Washington State citizens seem to be generally in favor of decriminalization according to a poll by FM3 Research. The survey showed that 71% of respondents preferred a treatment-first approach to drug policy.

Oregon is moving forward even more aggressively by decriminalizing all drugs as of November 2020. And they are not alone among other states who are moving towards more progressive drug policies. Maine, Vermont and California all have significant legislature moving forward that emphasize legalization of a broad variety of “recreational” drugs.

How to Behave During a Traffic Stop

There has been a tremendous amount of exposure recently to reprehensible behavior on the part of certain policemen. We wholeheartedly denounce this behavior is unacceptable and demand that justice be done. We also believe that these instances are abberations to the professionalism displayed by virtually all law enforcement officials. We long for the day when the ones who committed these terrible acts can be punished and that a new era may dawn where relations between citizens and those charged with protecting them are brought to newer, loftier standards.

Read more

Protection from Domestic Violence: The Attorney’s Role

Domestic Violence in vancouver waVictims of domestic violence have been subjected to harrowing events over extended periods of time. The most important way to help break the cycle of violence is by building multi-layer support structures to allow those effected to begin a new, better phase in their lives. Hiring an experienced attorney is an important part of your support team.

Domestic Violence and the Law

Although domestic violence is almost universally covered in state and federal law, it is extremely complex and working within the system almost without exceptions, brings out the worst in the people involved. There are many issues regarding the proper timing and maintenance of court orders so that you and your loved ones are protected to the fullest extent possible. Having experienced professionals helping you keep track of your legal obligations can help you better utilize your other support resources throughout your journey.

Role Your Attorney Plays in Protecting You from Domestic Violence

Although it is possible for you to get an emergency court order to protect you from the your current situation, there are several legal instruments and procedures that an attorney can assist greatly with that you probably can’t do yourself. Even if it is possible to do some things yourself, it is important for you to realize that you almost certainly won’t be able to do everything you need to without help. Part of getting better is knowing when you need help and having the courage to ask for it. Things your attorney can do include:

  1. File a protection or no-contact order
  2. Get a divorce
  3. File a lawsuit against the violent party
  4. Help with custody proceedings
  5. The Importance of Emotional and Health Support

Domestic violence leaves both physical and emotional pain that will eventually need to be addressed to build your new life. Working with qualified health professionals such as licensed therapists who offer both group and individual therapy sessions is absolutely critical for dealing with the mental and emotional fallout from the trauma you have suffered. And, unfortunately, working with health professionals to repair the physical injuries is often necessary. Without adequate support here, legal support, no matter how comprehensive, likely won’t be enough to maximize the chances of success.

By getting support from health and legal professionals along with the force of our legal system, victims can get past the nightmares of the past and look forward to a bright new future. Give us a call today if you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence and needs the protection of the courts.

What happens in a DUI arraignment?

If you are stopped and arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), a series of processes are set in motion. Although these processes may vary by state, the basic sequence is:

  1. Booking
  2. Arraignment
  3. Court Date
  4. Sentencing (if convicted)

What is Arraignment?

At your arraignment you will have your charges read to you and you will be asked if you need representation. As you may have in heard in any of the multitude of TV crime shows, if you can’t afford an attorney, the court may assign one to you. Lastly, you will be asked to how you plead to your charges. Because most people plead guilty at this phase, either because they lack adequate knowledge or the evidence against them appears overwhelming, this is as far as most DUI arraignments go. Sentencing is passed and the person must now deal with the consequences

Advantages of an Experienced DUI Attorney

Besides taking the time to become familiar with the proper way to behave should you be stopped on suspicion of DUI, there are advantages to securing competent council as soon as possible after the stop as possible. Being stopped can be a chaotic event for someone unfamiliar with with the process and it is possible that you might miss an important point that could help you defend yourself in court. Having a legal professional on your side can give you the information you need to dismiss charges once you arrive in court. In addition, experienced council can greatly assist in guiding through your arraignment. Legal proceedings can seem to happen very quickly for the uninitiated and competent council can help reduce the stress on you at that time.

If You Decide to Plead Not Guilty

If you decide to plead not guilty at your arraignment (which is expected), you will have a court date set for your trial. Although you will have the opportunity to represent yourself during the trial, this is usually have bad ideal. Without familiarity with court procedures, it is likely that you will make a mistake that could end up costing you in multiple ways. Your best chance during a trial is to have experienced council at your side. In-depth knowledge of the nuances that state legal systems have can make the difference between having a case dismissed, onerous sentences or, in some cases, acquittal. If you have been arrested for DUI, contact and hire an experienced attorney immediately.