Your Rights as a Criminal Defendant

You have numerous rights under the Federal Constitution and the Washington State Constitution.We want you to have a basic understanding of your rights so that you are empowered to exercise them. If you are facing criminal charges, hire a criminal defense attorney so that you can mount a strong legal defense and ensure your rights are protected. Here are some of your rights.

The Fourth Amendment

Creates the right to be free from unlawful search and seizure. In general, you have the right to refuse a search of your property or vehicle in the absence of a valid search warrant. However, if law enforcement officers have a search warrant or a valid exception to your Fourth Amendment right is present, you must submit to the search.

The Fifth Amendment

The right to remain silent. This amendment grants us the right against self-incrimination. If you are being questioned by law enforcement regarding a crime, it is usually in your best interest to remain silent. You do not have to answer questions posed to you by law enforcement. When talking to the police never lose sight of the fact that anything you say may potentially bolster the State’s case against you and/or harm your ability to defend yourself against criminal charges. Be polite but firm in your desire to remain silent.

Your right to remain silent extends to situations when being interrogated by law enforcement and when testifying in legal proceedings.

The Sixth Amendment

This amendment guarantees criminal defendants a number of rights, including the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed.

This amendment also guarantees the right to be confronted with witnesses against you and to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor.  You have the right to cross-examine any witness proffered by the State. Further, you have the right to proffer your own witnesses in support of your defense.

Other Rights

The right to be presumed innocent unless and until the State proves each element of the crimes charged beyond a reasonable doubt.

The presumption of innocence is a constitutional principle. To secure a conviction, the State must prove each element of the crime(s) charged beyond a reasonable doubt. This is the highest legal standard.

The right to an attorney.

You have the right to be represented by an attorney during any police interrogation and during any legal proceeding. Exercise this right. If you do answers questions, your attorney will be there to protect your rights and ensure you do not offer statements that will bolster a criminal case against you.

Also, know that once you ask for an attorney the police are no longer supposed to interrogate you until your attorney is present.

The laws encompassing the rights afforded by the U.S. Constitution and Washington State Constitution are complex and nuanced. Hire a criminal defense attorney to advocate for your rights and mount a strong defense against aggressive prosecution.

What You Need to Know About Shoplifting

If you have been accused of shoplifting, the first thing you should do is gather all the information you can to know just what you are up against. In Washington, the crime of shoplifting, like other theft charges, is classified based on its level of severity.

Classification of Theft

Theft in the 1st Degree: If the value of the property or services exceeds $5,000 (with the exception of a firearm or vehicle), it will be classified as 1st degree theft. As a Class B felony, the penalty will include a 10 year max jail sentence and a $20,000 fine.

Theft in the 2nd Degree: If the property or services stolen is valued between $750 and $5,000. This is classified as a Class C felony and can be punished with up to 5 years in jail and a fine of $10,000.

Theft in the 3rd Degree: If the property or service stolen is valued at less than $750, it is classified as a 3rd degree theft. This is a gross misdemeanor and can be punished with a maximum of 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Usually, shoplifting falls under the classification of 3rd degree theft, but that depends on the value of the things that you are accused of taking. To plan an adequate defense strategy your lawyer may ask you the following questions:

  • Were you in the store when stopped?
  • Had you already passed the checkout or register area of the store?
  • Were you carrying a personal bag?
  • Was it a mistake and you had intended to pay?
  • Where were the items recovered from?
  • Did you make any statements or admissions, and to whom?

If you or someone you know has been accused of shoplifting, contact the Charles Johnston team.