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Where do I turn after being charged with a drug crime?

Criminal charges are always a serious matter, but charges related to drug offenses can have particularly serious consequences. Criminal drug charges, however, don't have to become criminal drug convictions. A Spokane criminal defense attorney can be a critical ally in the fight against overzealous prosecution, questionable police conduct and faulty evidence-gathering.

What should someone do if they are charged with a drug crime in eastern Washington or Idaho? One of the key steps in fighting charges is securing a trusted defense attorney. Whether one is charged with drug possession, possession with intent to distribute or drug trafficking, the prosecution will generally have an easier time convicting if the defendant cannot successfully defend themselves. An experienced drug crimes attorney is extremely familiar with the prosecution's tactics as well as the defendant's rights under the law.

What is "stalking" under Washington law?

When a Spokane resident thinks of domestic violence, they likely picture a scenario wherein one person is physically harming another. The state of Washington, however, also includes the stalking of one family or household member by another in its definition of domestic violence. Those who face allegations of stalking a household or family member may eventually find themselves facing charges of domestic violence. In order to understand these charges, it's helpful to learn how the state defines stalking behavior.

Washington's lawmakers have defined stalking as the intentional and repeated harassment or following of another individual. This must be done without any lawful authority and under circumstances that do not amount to the felony attempt of a different crime. In addition, stalking involves either the stalker's intent to harass, intimidate or scare the other individual or the stalker's knowledge that the other person is frightened, harassed or intimidated - even if the stalker did not intend to produce such feelings.

Lawfully carrying a concealed pistol in Washington

Eastern Washington is home to numerous outdoors and sporting enthusiasts, as well as many local residents who want to protect themselves and their property. What these groups have in common is that many of them will apply for a Washington State concealed pistol license. Carrying a weapon must be done lawfully, or else the individual may face weapons charges.

Washington law specifies that, if approved, one's concealed pistol license will allow a person to carry a concealed pistol for certain purposes: personal protection, sport or use in business or travel. Those who wish to apply for a concealed pistol license may be interested in knowing whether they qualify. There are many restrictions on who can obtain a concealed pistol license in Washington; for example, residents who cannot possess a firearm per federal law are also unable to do so under Washington's concealed carry laws.

How does possession differ from intent to distribute?

In any criminal case, demonstrating intent is a challenge for the prosecution. Nevertheless, Washington State tends to zealously pursue drug charges against individuals for intent to distribute illegal substances. How does the crime of intent to distribute differ from simple drug possession?

Spokane residents who have been charged with a drug crime can learn more about their charges from an experienced criminal defense attorney. In general, drug possession is forbidden by both state and federal law. Possession typically means having drugs physically on a person, such as in their hands or in their pockets, but it can also mean having drugs within a person's control. This may mean drugs found in one's residence or automobile may fall under the purview of drug possession. Usually, a drug possession charge involves the requirement that the person charged with a crime knew the drugs were in that location, be it on themselves or in their control.

Defending against a wide range of federal charges

When Spokane residents hear the term "federal charges," they may envision a white-collar crime scenario or a multi-state drug trafficking operation. However, federal charges actually encompass a broad array of crimes. Fortunately, an experienced Washington criminal defense attorney can serve as a comprehensive resource for those accused of a federal crime.

While most criminal offenses are punishable under state law, there are a great many offenses at the federal level. Crimes such as kidnapping, computer fraud, forgery and online child pornography can involve federal charges with serious long-term consequences if there is a conviction. In addition, there are a multitude of federal drug charges that a defendant may face in addition to state-level charges. While Washington may have a reputation as being relatively lenient when it comes to drugs, there are still serious penalties for those convicted of state and federal drug crimes.

Reporting domestic violence: Interference is a crime

Most Spokane residents probably have a vague understanding of domestic violence as a crime. Most men and women already know that physically assaulting or abusing their partner is a crime, but there is much more to domestic violence than illegal physical contact. Interfering with the reporting of domestic violence is also considered a crime in the state of Washington.

In order to be charged with interfering with the reporting of domestic violence, there must first be an incidence of domestic violence. Washington defines domestic violence in an extensive number of ways, but an experienced criminal defense attorney can help a defendant understand the criminal charges against them. A person charged with interference must also have prevented, or tried to prevent, the victim or a witness from seeking help. The help can be in the form of dialing 911, going to the police or seeking medical attention.

Opponents of Washington gun law lack standing, federal judge says

Gun laws are often a hot topic in Washington State. In the Spokane area, many local residents own a weapon either for recreational purposes, such as hunting, or for personal protection. No one wants to face a weapons charge for violating gun laws; however, according to the Second Amendment Foundation, which is based in Bellevue, one of Washington's newer gun laws is so vague that it might not be understood properly.

The law in question, which was passed last November, created universal background checks for most gun transactions in the state. The requirement includes sales at gun shows, online gun sales and transfers of guns such as gifts or loans. There are exceptions for hunting gun loans, gifts from one family member to another, certain emergency-related transfers and antique guns. The specifics of the relatively new law might sound confusing, which is why multiple plaintiffs have challenged the law since its passing.

Can a convicted offender be put to death in Washington?

Does the state of Washington have the death penalty for convicted offenders? Unless one has faced criminal charges, this question might never arise. However, when an individual is charged with a serious crime such as homicide, the severity of Washington's criminal penalties can quickly become that person's primary concern.

Washington State does have the death penalty for certain convicted offenders. Nearly 80 individuals have been put to death in Washington over the past 110 years. However, no convicted individual has been put to death in Washington in several years. Moreover, last year Governor Inslee suspended use of the death penalty for as long as he holds office, citing a flawed system and doubts about capital punishment as the reasons. Inslee noted that if lawmakers pushed for it, he would support a permanent ban on the death penalty.

Severe penalties for heroin offenses in Washington

Thanks to changing laws on the subject, much attention has been paid to marijuana use in Washington recently. However, there are many other substances for which there is no acceptable legal use; one such substance is the opium derivative heroin. Some argue that there is actually a heroin epidemic sweeping the country, as the Centers for Disease Control have indicated heroin overdose fatalities have almost tripled since 2010.

Unfortunately, overdoses and health problems are not the only serious consequences that coincide with heroin drug offenses. In Washington State, the drug charges associated with heroin are extremely serious as well. For example, simple possession of even a small amount of heroin is a Class C felony. For those convicted on such a charge for the first time, they may have to attend a drug diversion program and be sentenced to probation. However, potential penalties can involve fines of up to $10,000 or a prison sentence of up to five years.

Domestic violence charges and Washington's diverse households

Unless one has been charged with domestic violence or a related crime, it's easy to imagine the charges only affect certain types of people and households. Contrary to popular belief, charges of domestic violence don't just affect those who are married or living with a current or former romantic partner.

The state of Washington defines domestic violence as various types of harm or assault inflicted by one "family or household member" upon another. However, there are various individuals that the state describes as family or household members. These include spouses, of course, but also former spouses, adults related either by blood or by marriage, current and former domestic partners and adults who are currently living together or who have shared a residence in the past. The list also includes individuals who have a child together; these individuals do not have to have ever been married or lived together in the past.