HB 1715: Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence

In recent years, there has been a significant focus on enhancing legal protections for victims of domestic violence in Washington. This commitment to change is crystallized in the recent passing of House Bill 1715, an important piece of legislation aimed at strengthening the rights and protections afforded to these victims. The implications of this new law are wide-ranging and it is important to understand its key provisions and the impact it will have on those suffering from domestic violence.

Domestic Violence in Washington

Domestic violence is a pervasive issue in Washington State, affecting countless individuals across diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. According to the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, in 2021 alone, nearly 60,000 incidents of domestic violence were reported to law enforcement. This alarming figure represents only a fraction of the real problem, as many cases go unreported due to fear, intimidation, and lack of trust in the justice system.

Historically, the legal framework in Washington has been inadequate in providing sufficient protection to victims of domestic violence. The Centers for Disease Control reports that approximately 1 in 5 homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner and, according to one study, over 4.5 million women have reported being threatened with a gun by an intimate partner. The need for stronger, more comprehensive legislation is clear, leading to the introduction of House Bill 1715.

House Bill 1715

House Bill 1715, now a landmark law, aims to bolster protections for victims of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault in Washington State. This comprehensive 43-page legislation includes several key provisions, most notably the strengthening of requirements on suspects to surrender weapons. It provides expanded training for judicial officers with respect to preventing domestic violence homicide. Law enforcement officers will also be required to receive increased training on various aspects of domestic violence, including specifically on the intersection of firearms and domestic violence.

Another key provision of the law involves the creation of a pilot program to implement domestic violence high-risk teams. These teams will be charged with identifying and interceding in domestic violence cases with a high risk of homicide. They will provide increased access to supportive services for high-risk victims and increased perpetrator monitoring. The law also requires the creation of a model policy for the use of electronic monitoring with victim notification technology, and it establishes a research center at the University of Washington to determine the most effective methods of preventing domestic violence.

How Will House Bill 1715 Affect Domestic Violence Victims?

The enactment of House Bill 1715 is a landmark step forward in Washington State’s fight against domestic violence. By expanding training for judges and police, strengthening requirements for the surrender of weapons, and offering enhanced support for survivors, the justice system is taking significant steps forward to combat this troubling and pervasive problem. If you are a victim of domestic violence from a family member or intimate partner, contact Jennifer today to receive help in navigating this changing legal landscape.

PLEASE NOTE:  If you have an ongoing divorce or child custody case and are seeking a domestic violence protection order (DVPO) the DVPO case will be consolidated with the family law case, and therefore the DVPO should be handled by a family law attorney.

DISCLAIMER: This post is intended to share my perspective, insights, and some general information on various aspects of criminal cases. It is not legal advice and is not intended to substitute for legal advice. You should consult an attorney to obtain legal advice for your individual situation and case.

jury room

What Role Does the Grand Jury Play in White Collar Crime Cases, and How Can I Prepare for a Grand Jury Investigation?

Juries in the United States decide innocence or guilt in criminal cases. However, a grand jury is a panel of individuals who decide whether the prosecution has sufficient evidence to prove probable cause for an indictment. They do not decide whether the person is guilty or innocent. The grand jury only decides whether the evidence justifies criminal charges. If you are under suspicion of committing a white collar crime, you need a Washington white collar crime attorney immediately to protect your legal rights. 

The Role the Grand Jury Plays in a White Collar Criminal Case

In the United States, there are federal grand juries and state grand juries. According to Washington’s Criminal Investigatory Act of 1971, grand juries in Washington consist of 12 people. Federal grand juries may consist of 16 to 23 people. 

Grand juries do not meet in public. The only individuals permitted at a grand jury hearing are:

  • Witness under examination
  • The attorney for the witness
  • The public attorneys
  •  A court report
  • An interpreter, if needed
  • A public servant guarding the witness
  • Corporation counsel or city attorney

The attorney for the witness cannot participate in the proceedings. The attorney may only advise their client concerning their right to answer or not answer a question.  The client can come out of the grand jury room to consult with their attorney at any time, even while testifying.   No other person is permitted in the room when the grand jury deliberates and votes.

In a white collar case, the grand jurors examine and investigate the evidence provided to them by the state. Grand juries have broad powers to hear and see almost any evidence they deem relevant to a case. 

After completing their investigation, the grand jury decides whether to issue an indictment against the suspect. At least three-fourths of the jurors on a Washington grand jury must be convinced there is probable cause to believe the suspect is guilty of the white collar crime to issue an indictment. The grand jury may also prepare a grand jury report that contains their conclusions, suggestions, and recommendations. 

A prosecutor can still pursue white collar criminal charges even if the grand jury fails to issue an indictment, if they are able to prove their case to a judge during a preliminary hearing.  However, in the Western District of Washington, the vast majority of cases are pursued by indictment rather than by proof at a preliminary hearing.  In either case, you need legal counsel as soon as possible to protect your rights.

How Do You Prepare for a Grand Jury Investigation in a Washington White Collar Case?

If you are under investigation for a white collar crime, you are not obligated to speak with law enforcement agents or government agents. You have the right to remain silent during all interrogations. You also have the right to legal counsel. Do not agree to interviews with law enforcement or to testifying before a grand jury without legal counsel.  You have the right to know if you are just a witness or are a target of the investigation and you should get clarification on this before making any statements to anyone about the case.  

The actions and statements you make before and during a grand jury investigation could hurt your defense if you are charged with a white collar crime. Therefore, it is vital that you speak with a Washington criminal defense attorney as soon as you believe you could be under investigation or suspicion of committing a crime. The best defense is to be proactive, regardless of whether you are charged with embezzlement, fraud, forgery, public corruption, or any other white collar crime.

Witnesses before the grand jury should also seek advice from a criminal defense lawyer. The prosecutor often subpoenas witnesses that could have some exposure for self-incrimination.  Prosecutors also often subpoena documents from witnesses or third parties (like banks or cell phone providers) in order to build their case.   Grand jury witnesses need to understand their legal rights and how to protect themselves during a grand jury investigation.  An attorney can help you move to quash a subpoena for documents that you do not possess or do not wish to produce.

Schedule a Consultation with a Washington Criminal Defense Attorney

The best way to prepare for a grand jury investigation is with the help of an experienced Washington criminal defense attorney. Contact Jennifer today to schedule a consultation to discuss your criminal charges or a pending criminal investigation. 

DISCLAIMER: This post is intended to share my perspective, insights, and some general information on various aspects of criminal cases. It is not legal advice and is not intended to substitute for legal advice. You should consult an attorney to obtain legal advice for your individual situation and case.

man speaking to criminal defense attorney

Exploring the Different Types of Sex Crimes and Their Consequences in Washington State

Sex crimes vary from one state to another. Conduct that could get charged as rape in the first degree, for example, in one state might be rape in the second or third degree in another. Also, the penalties for getting convicted of sex crimes are different in different states.

This blog will explore the different types of sex crimes and their consequences in Washington State. If you get arrested for or charged with a sex crime, you will want to protect your future by working with a Washington sex crimes attorney.

The Elements and Consequences of Rape in Washington State

Washington classifies rape as a felony of the first, second, or third degree. First and second-degree rape convictions are Class A felonies. Third-degree rape convictions are Class C felonies. Washington punishes Class A felonies with up to life in prison, a $50,000 fine, or both imprisonment and a fine. Class C felonies carry a sentence of up to five years of imprisonment, a $10,000 fine, or both time in prison and a fine.

First Degree Rape

Rape in Washington State means that one person had forcible sexual intercourse with another person without that person’s consent. “Force” can be emotional force, like coercion, pressure, threats, intimidation, or physical force.

First-degree rape involves any of these elements:

  • Kidnapping,
  • Entering the car or building where the person is,
  • Inflicting severe physical injury, or
  • Using or threatening to use a weapon.

Second Degree Rape

With second-degree rape, forcible sexual intercourse involves either compelling the sexual intercourse through force or sexual intercourse with a person who is legally incapable of giving consent because of a physical, mental, or developmental disability.

Third Degree Rape

Third-degree rape charges can get filed when the other person expressed their lack of consent through conduct or words, or the defendant threatened to harm the other person’s property.

Additional Types of Sex Crimes

Washington’s statutes also cover many other types of sex crimes. For example:

  • Rape of a child in the first degree. 9A.44.073.
  • Rape of a child in the second degree. 9A.44.076.
  • Rape of a child in the third degree. 9A.44.079.
  • Child molestation in the first degree. 9A.44.083.
  • Child molestation in the second degree. 9A.44.086.
  • Child molestation in the third degree. 9A.44.089.
  • Sexual misconduct with a minor in the first degree. 9A.44.093.
  • Sexual misconduct with a minor in the second degree. 9A.44.096.
  • Indecent liberties. 9A.44.100.
  • Sexually violating human remains. 9A.44.105.
  • Voyeurism. 9A.44 115.

Washington is tough on sex crimes. Indecent liberties, for example, is a Class A felony, carrying a possible life term in prison, a $50,000 fine, or both. All sex crime convictions include mandatory registration in the Sex Offender Registry. Failing to register can result in additional time in prison or jail.

Getting convicted of any of these offenses could keep you from reaching your potential in life because of the social, economic, and other consequences, in addition to the fines, jail time, and having to register as a sexual offender.

A Washington criminal defense attorney could help you go after the best possible outcome in your situation. Reach out to our office today for a consultation.

stack of cash under magnifying glass

Defending Against Charges of Misappropriating Funds

If you get charged with misappropriating funds, your first call should be to a Washington white collar crimes attorney. Some defense strategies work better early on in a case. This blog will cover the issue of defending against charges of misappropriating funds.

Defenses to Charges of Misappropriating Funds

Whether you get charged with a state or federal offense of misappropriation of funds, you will want to mount an aggressive defense against the charges. Here are some of the common defenses against these charges:

  • Illegal search and seizure. We could file a motion to suppress evidence that got obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment protection from unreasonable searches and seizures. If law enforcement was supposed to have a search warrant, but they did not have one, or the warrant was defective, we can ask the judge not to allow the evidence to be used against you at trial. 
  • Weak or incomplete case against you. Sometimes, the prosecutor bluffs. They might have evidence to prove most of the elements of the offensive misappropriating funds but lack sufficient proof of one or more of the other requirements for a conviction. They might hope to reach a plea agreement with you or cross their fingers and hope that they will discover evidence during the case. Often, a case becomes incomplete after improperly obtained evidence gets excluded or suppressed.
  • Entrapment. This defense argues that law enforcement coerced you into committing the offense and that you would never have engaged in the activity otherwise. 
  • Wrong person. With this defense, you only got accused because of a mistake about your identity or because someone wrongfully accused you.
  • Intent. You did not intentionally misappropriate the funds.
  • Good faith belief. It was reasonable for you to believe that you were the rightful owner of the funds. 
  • Duress. Someone forced you through violence, the threat of violence, or restraint to misappropriate the funds. 

After we talk to you and investigate your situation, we might have additional defenses that could get used in your case.

The Charge of Misappropriation

The offense of misappropriation is similar to but not exactly the same as embezzlement. Often, an individual gets charged with both misappropriation and embezzlement. Here are the elements of misappropriation:

  • The owner of the money entrusted it to the defendant, which act gave the defendant some possession and control, but not ownership of the funds. 
  • The defendant misappropriated the funds intentionally and knowing that they did not own the funds.
  • The defendant used the funds for personal purposes, rather than for the benefit of the rightful owner. Transferring money out of the rightful owner’s account into the defendant’s account would be an example of using the funds, even if the defendant did not actually spend the money. Refusing to return the money to the owner upon demand also counts as the defendant using the funds for their own personal purposes. 

The prosecutor must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, every element of misappropriation before the defendant can get convicted of the offense. Penalties can include having to pay restitution to the victim, imprisonment or jail time, fines, and probation.

You can talk with a Washington criminal defense attorney about protecting your legal rights and representing you in your misappropriation case. Reach out to our office today for help with your case.

DISCLAIMER: This post is intended to share my perspective, insights, and some general information on various aspects of criminal cases. It is not legal advice and is not intended to substitute for legal advice. You should consult an attorney to obtain legal advice for your individual situation and case.