Drake Bell Arrested for DUI

Best known for his role on Nickelodeon’s “Drake and Josh,” Drake Bell was arrested on suspicion of DUI in Glendale on Monday night. After being stopped for alleged speeding and swerving, Drake Bell was arrested for DUI and posted $20,000 bail for his release.

Drake Bell is at the start of the criminal process that has entangled celebrities, politicians,  athletes, and the not so famous alike. Often the difference is the ability to immediately contact the best criminal defense lawyer. DUI law is both complex and confusing. When arrested for DUI you immediately find yourself caught up in the criminal justice system, often for the first time. Additionally, you may have a civil case pending against your license. The key to getting the best result is to have the help of a Lynnwood DUI Lawyer. I assist my clients in determining the best steps to move forward; including challenging the DOL, scheduling court dates, in depth case assessment, and aggressive DUI defense.

Had Drake Bell’s arrest been in a first offense DUI in Washington State, he would be looking at a mandatory minimum sentence of 1 to 2 days in jail (depending on his breath test), a 90 day to 1 year license suspension, a 1 year ignition interlock requirement,  and an alcohol and drug evaluation including compliance with any treatment recommendations. While Drake is innocent until proven guilty, there are often strict conditions of release placed on individuals accused of DUI. You should never appear in court with a criminal defense lawyer to represent you.

If you or a loved one has been accused of DUI or other criminal offense, contact the Law Firm of Lucas D. McWethy for a free consultation at 206-427-4901.

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How do I choose a Snohomish County Lawyer?

Being accused and charged of crime in Snohomish County can be an intimidating situation. whether you are charged with a Mt. Vernon DUI, a Burlington Theft, or Snohomish County felony, you need a Snohomish County Lawyer to represent you from the beginning. But how do you choose a Lawyer? Where do you begin? What questions should you ask? A personal recommendation from someone you know is usually the best starting point, but do your own research as well. The Lawyer you choose is going to have an enormous impact on your case and its eventual impact on your future. Below are a few starting points to determine help you choose a lawyer to best represent you.

What kind of lawyer do you need?  The first step is to determine what kind of lawyer you need. If you have been charged with a crime in Snohomish County, you need a Snohomish County criminal defense lawyer. If it is an eviction, you need a landlord/tenant lawyer. If you want to sue someone for an injury or a harm done, you want either a personal injury lawyer or a civil attorney. There are numerous online resources to help you narrow your search down to the specific category of lawyer you need.

Compile a list of at least 3 lawyers: Utilizing Google, Avvo.com, personal recommendations, or other sources, compile a list of at least 3 lawyers that have the skill you  need. Then, contact them and set of a consultation. Most criminal defense attorneys like myself offer a free initial consultation. This does not mean that you need to set up 3 separate consultations, but at least call the offices and get a feel for how they do business. Is the lawyer willing to speak with you on the phone? How difficult is it get an appointment with the lawyer? Will they discuss fees over the phone or only in person? Trust and compatibility are both necessary for a productive attorney/client relationship. You should be able to get an initial feel for this by placing a phone call to the Law Firm.

Meet with you best candidates: After placing the phone calls, set up a consultation (I recommend in person, however an in depth consult over the phone or skype may accomplish this goal as well). Speak with them about your case, your history, your goals and get their feedback. Are they giving you honest and realistic feedback? Or are they just telling you what you want to hear? It is rare that a criminal charge will be defended without any difficult decisions to make (plea to a lesser charge vs. trial etc). You need a lawyer that is going to be honest and up front, and that starts with the consultation. You want a skilled lawyer, not just a skilled salesman.

Fully discuss fees: This is particularly important if you are paying hourly or based on a percentage if the case is won. Discuss the fees and get it all in writing. Since I am a criminal defense lawyer, I will touch on how we establish fees. The Washington State Bar Association does not allow criminal defense lawyers to base their fees on a contingent fee (meaning we are only paid if we win). So we must either charge hourly or a flat fee. A flat fee is established up front by the attorney making an assessment of the case and the time that will be involved. Some lawyers will also break up their services into flat fee categories. Meaning, this is the price for representation up to a certain established point, then this amount if you want to continue to fight, then this amount for trial. An example of this is that I charge a flat fee for all representation up to the determination to go to trial. The vast majority of cases in Washington State settle by plea agreement prior to trial. I do not believe in charging someone for a service they may not utilize, so I charge a flat affordable fee for representation, then an hourly fee for trial should the determination be made that trial is the way to go. No matter what, get the fee structure in writing and make sure you understand it.

Find an attorney that fits you financial means: If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided to you by the court. However, you do not get to choose your public defender, they are assigned. There are some great public defenders out there, but they are very typically overworked and underpaid. If you are able to retain a private lawyer, you get to choose someone you trust and they are typically mush more accessible. You do not need to be rich or have an immense savings to afford a lawyer. There is a wide range of lawyers that all charge different amounts, with different size retainers, and some, like myself, offer affordable payment plans as well. The cost of an attorney is not always reflective of their skill. Established attorneys that have been in practice for decades can often charge much more. However, laws change rapidly, case-law changes decisions, and Judges and prosecutors are replaced. What worked in criminal defense in 1985 may not be relevant anymore. Speak with the Lawyer to determine their skill, knowledge and expertise. Do not just rely on how long they have been a lawyer.

I hope this helps you on the first step to determining the best Snohomish County Lawyer for you. If you have any questions, please feel fee to leave them in the comment section. If you or a loved one has been accused of a crime in Snohomish County, call the Law Firm of Lucas D. McWethy for a free consultation.

How do I choose a Skagit County Laywer?

Being accused and charged of crime in Skagit County can be an intimidating situation. whether you are charged with a Mt. Vernon DUI, a Burlington Theft, or Skagit County felony, you need a Skagit County Lawyer to represent you from the beginning. But how do you choose a Lawyer? Where do you begin? What questions should you ask? A personal recommendation from someone you know is usually the best starting point, but do your own research as well. The Lawyer you choose is going to have an enormous impact on your case and its eventual impact on your future. Below are a few starting points to determine help you choose a lawyer to best represent you.

What kind of lawyer do you need?  The first step is to determine what kind of lawyer you need. If you have been charged with a crime in Skagit County, you need a Skagit County criminal defense lawyer. If it is an eviction, you need a landlord/tenant lawyer. If you want to sue someone for an injury or a harm done, you want either a personal injury lawyer or a civil attorney. There are numerous online resources to help you narrow your search down to the specific category of lawyer you need.

Compile a list of at least 3 lawyers: Utilizing Google, Avvo.com, personal recommendations, or other sources, compile a list of at least 3 lawyers that have the skill you  need. Then, contact them and set of a consultation. Most criminal defense attorneys like myself offer a free initial consultation. This does not mean that you need to set up 3 separate consultations, but at least call the offices and get a feel for how they do business. Is the lawyer willing to speak with you on the phone? How difficult is it get an appointment with the lawyer? Will they discuss fees over the phone or only in person? Trust and compatibility are both necessary for a productive attorney/client relationship. You should be able to get an initial feel for this by placing a phone call to the Law Firm.

Meet with you best candidates: After placing the phone calls, set up a consultation (I recommend in person, however an in depth consult over the phone or skype may accomplish this goal as well). Speak with them about your case, your history, your goals and get their feedback. Are they giving you honest and realistic feedback? Or are they just telling you what you want to hear? It is rare that a criminal charge will be defended without any difficult decisions to make (plea to a lesser charge vs. trial etc). You need a lawyer that is going to be honest and up front, and that starts with the consultation. You want a skilled lawyer, not just a skilled salesman.

Fully discuss fees: This is particularly important if you are paying hourly or based on a percentage if the case is won. Discuss the fees and get it all in writing. Since I am a criminal defense lawyer, I will touch on how we establish fees. The Washington State Bar Association does not allow criminal defense lawyers to base their fees on a contingent fee (meaning we are only paid if we win). So we must either charge hourly or a flat fee. A flat fee is established up front by the attorney making an assessment of the case and the time that will be involved. Some lawyers will also break up their services into flat fee categories. Meaning, this is the price for representation up to a certain established point, then this amount if you want to continue to fight, then this amount for trial. An example of this is that I charge a flat fee for all representation up to the determination to go to trial. The vast majority of cases in Washington State settle by plea agreement prior to trial. I do not believe in charging someone for a service they may not utilize, so I charge a flat affordable fee for representation, then an hourly fee for trial should the determination be made that trial is the way to go. No matter what, get the fee structure in writing and make sure you understand it.

Find an attorney that fits you financial means: If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided to you by the court. However, you do not get to choose your public defender, they are assigned. There are some great public defenders out there, but they are very typically overworked and underpaid. If you are able to retain a private lawyer, you get to choose someone you trust and they are typically mush more accessible. You do not need to be rich or have an immense savings to afford a lawyer. There is a wide range of lawyers that all charge different amounts, with different size retainers, and some, like myself, offer affordable payment plans as well. The cost of an attorney is not always reflective of their skill. Established attorneys that have been in practice for decades can often charge much more. However, laws change rapidly, case-law changes decisions, and Judges and prosecutors are replaced. What worked in criminal defense in 1985 may not be relevant anymore. Speak with the Lawyer to determine their skill, knowledge and expertise. Do not just rely on how long they have been a lawyer.

I hope this helps you on the first step to determining the best Skagit County Lawyer for you. If you have any questions, please feel fee to leave them in the comment section. If you or a loved one has been accused of a crime in Skagit County, call the Law Firm of Lucas D. McWethy for a free consultation.

The Seahawks DUI

What a great end to the regular season! We had our difficulties early on, but here we are in  the Playoffs again. It is a great time for our City, our State, and our fan base. Be there, be loud and support the team, but be safe as well.

Whenever there is a home Seahawks game, there are also increased DUI patrols. This can be seen throughout the year, and especially during a home playoff run. And the patrols are not limited to King County. There will also be an increased DUI patrol presence in Pierce County, Snohomish County, Skagit County, Whatcom County and Island County.

Many bars will be opening at 9am tomorrow to start the pregame celebration. If you are going join the celebration and alcohol is involved, have a plan. If you pick a designated driver, remember a designated driver means no alcohol. You do not have to be over the legal limit of 0.08 to be arrested and charged with DUI. I always recommend that people keep a cab company’s number saved in their phone.

If you are stopped for a DUI in Snohomish county (or any other county) and have consumed alcohol, be courteous, provide the requested documentation, and do not answer questions or engage in conversation with the Officer. Your entire interaction will be for the purpose of the Officer gathering evidence against you. If requested to perform field sobriety test, they are voluntary and I typically recommend people politely refuse. Same advice if offered a portable breath test at the roadside (which is distinctly different from the breath test at the station, which will have licensing consequences if refused). If arrested and asked to take a breath test at the station, ask to speak with an attorney to discuss your options and specific facts of you stop.

Being arrested for Driving Under the Influence is a scary circumstance that carries severe penalties and licensing consequences. You need a skilled criminal defense attorney on your side from the beginning. A Snohomish County DUI Lawyer will be able to evaluate your case and prepare an aggressive defense that protects your rights. The State prosecutor will be utilizing all of their resources against you, you need someone there to fight for you future. If you are someone you know has been accused of a Snohomish County, or any other county, DUI, call The Law Firm of Lucas D. McWethy at 206-427-4901 to schedule your free consultation.

A Ticket when the Officer never saw the Collision?

Recently I have spoken with a number of people that have received citation after they have been in a collision. The odd part is that the vast majority of these collisions did not happen in the presence of the Officer. Common citations for these circumstances are: Following Too Closely, Speed Too Fast for Conditions, and Following Too Closely. So how does the Officer cite someone for a traffic violation when they did not witness any violation occur?

RCW 46.63.030 allows the officer investigating the scene of a collision to issue an infraction if they have reason to believe the driver committed a traffic infraction. This is typically done by the Officer filling out a collision report that utilizes techniques of accident reconstruction. Based on what the Officer determines, they issue an infraction to one of the drivers involved in the collision. There seems to be a policy in place in most departments that require the Officer to cite someone with an infraction. The citations listed above (Following Too Closely, Speed Too Fast for Conditions, and Following Too Closely) are the ones typically cited by the Officers because they way the statute is written, they are pretty easy for the prosecutor to win.

So how do you fight a ticket when the Officer is alleging a violation that they did not witness? As a Snohomish Count Traffic Attorney, my first line of attack is to exclude as much of the evidence as possible. There are rules to infraction law that, if not followed, allow me to exclude certain evidence from be considered by the Judge. Officer have to be very specific with their reports when they are listing conclusions based on an incident that they did not witness. In Snohomish County Traffic Court there is typically a prosecutor present and ready to argue for the admissibility of the evidence. Being prepared and knowing the law and the case law is how you fight these tickets.

Arguing the facts of the ticket can be a loosing battle in most circumstances. For example, imagine a circumstance where vehicle one rear-ended vehicle two and vehicle one was cited for following too closely (Officer did not witness the accident). A fact based defense may be telling the judge that you were not following too closely, but rather the person merged right in front of you, then slammed on their brakes, and you ran into them. The Judge could find that you just admitted to the infraction because you did not immediately break when the other vehicle merged and immediately allow enough room between your vehicles. I have actually heard a judge rule that if you rear ended another vehicle, it is obvious that at some point your were following too close or you would not have collided with the other vehicle. Fact based defenses are difficult to win and rarely do. The key to winning is excluding evidence so the Judge has little to consider and not admitting a violation by testifying. This is another area where having an attorney represent you can help; you will likely not testify (or even need to be present) and accidentally admit to the violation.

If you have already been in a collision, the last thing you need is a traffic ticket on top of that. You need an experience Snohomish County Traffic Attorney on your side. Contact the Law Firm of Lucas D. McWethy to discuss your ticket and options for getting it dismissed.

DV Assault and the No Contact Order

Getting arrested for Assault in the fourth degree is a scary circumstance. There is the fact that you have just been arrested, the question of whether or not the police will hold you in jail, and whether or not this allegation will have a domestic violence (DV) qualifier added to it. If the alleged Assault occurred against a family member, someone you live with, or someone you have had an intimate relationship with, the answer is yes, it will have a DV tag on it. The DV tag can be added to a number of charges including Assault, Malicious Mischief, Reckless Endangerment, Stalking, and much more listed in RCW 10.99.020 (5).

So what does it mean to you if the prosecutor files the Assault in the 4th degree with a Domestic Violence tag on it? Well, if you were arrested in Lynnwood, Washington for Assault 4 DV, this would mean that you were likely held in jail over night or until you could appear in front of the Lynnwood Municipal Court Judge. The Judge would then review the allegations and decide what conditions of release should be imposed, or if you should be held on bail. With the Domestic Violence tag, a no contact order will almost always be entered in against you. This means that upon your release, you may not be able to go home or have any contact with the alleged victim, even if the victim does not want this order. The order is entered in by the Judge, typically at the request of the prosecutor. Have an attorney there to assist you as early as possible is the best chance you have at avoiding no contact order.

The original intent of these no contact orders were to protect people that could not or would not protect themselves. People in a cycle of domestic violence that are so intertwined in the circumstances that they are not able to act in their own best interest. The no contact order allows the State to step in and protect that person while determining if the pending criminal charge is viable. Unfortunately, the use of the no contact order in the criminal realm has exceeding this original intent. It is now common for the court to enter these no contact orders on every Domestic Violence charge unless presented with convincing reason not to. The courts want to err on the side of caution (and avoid any liability). And while the courts are being cautions, families that want to reconcile and work through their difficulties are separated and endure significant financial difficulty (the expense of an attorney and sometimes a second residence for a significant period of time). These no contact orders typically last until the criminal allegations are settled. Violating a no contact order is an additional criminal violation that may carry jail time and revoke probation on the original charge.

What I am describing is a no contact order issued by the judge in a criminal proceeding. There are also no contact orders that can be issued by either the District Court or the Superior Court through a civil proceeding. These cases are typically originated by the victim and are completely different than what I describe above. But I will save the particulars of that for another blog.

If a no contact order has been entered in against you or a family member, sometimes the best way to get the no contact order lifted is to aggressively fight the underlying allegations. Getting a resolution and settling the underlying Assault IV DV will typically end the courts jurisdiction on imposing the no contact order (although there are ways for the court to impose a new one). It is important to your future to fight this allegation and at the very least get the DV tag dropped from the charge. Any criminal conviction with a DV tag can have serious consequences on you future.

If you or a family member of been accused of a Domestic Violence allegation, contact the Law Firm of Lucas D. McWethy to schedule your free case evaluation and consultation. Just because you have been accused of a crime does not mean you have to surrender your future. Call 206-427-4901 to discuss your case.

Medical Marijuana And DUI

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) law is a complex and confusing set of rules and regulations. The complexity only increases when you add in the Department of Licensing, Insurance, required treatment and the legal system in general. It is helpful to have a Snohomish County DUI attorney involved early to help navigate the issues and make sure there are no surprises. The legalization of marijuana only  increased the complexity of DUI law.

There are many circumstances that can lead to being arrested for DUI. For alcohol and marijuana, there is a presumptive limit (.08 and 5 nanograms of THC). This means that even if you appear to be completely sober, if the test results are above the presumptive level you could be found guilty of DUI. For all drugs and alcohol, the State can still proceed with DUI charges without a test (or a test showing below the legal limit) if they believe they can show that your driving was affected by the drugs or alcohol.

This presumptive limit of 5 nanograms for marijuana, combined with the affected by option if a test is not done, creates a unique problem for medical marijuana users. As the body process active THC, it is metabolized into Carboxy THC (this is an over simplification, but one which the courts follow). Carboxy TCH is stored in the bodies fat cells and can be present for around 30 days. The Carboxy number is not used in determining the presumptive level, only the active THC component is used. However, the prosecutor and the judge will see the Carboxy levels and may make certain assumptions about the individuals use of marijuana.

The difficulty for medical marijuana users comes in the determination of when it is safe for them to drive. Unlike alcohol, there is not a well know percentage indicator (proof for alcohol) that informs the user of the TCH content and how long it will take to process  through the body. Additionally, the THC metabolization is different in every person, especially between those of greatly different weights. Now some dispensaries do a great job of providing THC counts on their product. There are a lot of products that are genetically modified to help certain illnesses or symptoms and have very specific THC levels. These products must be treated just like any other prescription. Speak with the provider and your doctor and determine when it would be safe for you to drive after consuming the product. Your provider and doctor should be able to take into account the specific product (and THC content), your body, and your needs. Having a medical marijuana card will not prevent a DUI if you are either driving while being affect by marijuana (the THC component at least) or have greater than 5 nanograms of THC in your blood.

If you or someone you know has a medical marijuana card and has been charged with a Snohomish County Marijuana DUI, you need the help of a DUI attorney that is familiar with the specific needs of a medical marijuana user. The courts, prosecutors, and even treatment agencies still have a long way go in accepting medical marijuana as an alternative to harsh pharmaceuticals. Contact the Law Firm of Lucas D. McWethy, (206) 427-4901.