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Judge John E. Turner (Ret.)

Criminal Defense Archives

About plea bargains

Plea bargains are a staple of the American justice system and make up almost 90 percent of criminal cases. Washington residents who have been charged with a crime may be able to negotiate a plea deal to reduce their punishment.

Report finds that black offenders often get harsher sentencing

Civil rights groups in Washington and around the country have long alleged that African Americans receive disproportionately harsh treatment in the criminal justice system. A report released by the U.S. Sentencing Commission on Nov. 14 suggests that these claims have merit. The independent agency, which is part of the judicial branch of the federal government, studied the sentences handed down to black and white men convicted of the same crimes between 2012 and 2016. They found that African American males received sentences that were, on average, 19.1 percent longer.

Race and poverty influence plea deals offered to defendants

When a defendant agrees to a plea bargain in Washington, the decision is final and it will mean a criminal conviction of some sort. Prosecutors determine the terms of plea deals, and people who lack the means to pay for bail typically accept them because they'll generally get to go home if the charges are misdemeanors.

Basic rules about when police can search people or property

Residents of Washington possess a legal right to a reasonable level of privacy, which applies to searches by law enforcement. In situations where no expectation of privacy exists, police may conduct searches without a warrant. For example, a stolen weapon in plain view on the hood of a car could be taken by police. This action would not be considered a search.

Alternatives to jail time

People in Washington who are convicted of an offense may not necessarily have to go to jail. There are a number of alternative sentences that they might receive instead. For example, a person might get a suspended sentence. The suspended sentence may or may not have a condition, such as requiring the completion of a substance abuse program. Probation is similar to a suspended sentence but usually places restrictions on a person's freedom.

Speedy trials and the role of jurors

Washington residents who have been accused of committing a crime should be aware that they are guaranteed to a speedy trial under the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This ultimately means that those accused of committing a crime must be brought to trial within a reasonable time frame.

The consequences of DUIs for military service members

If you live in Washington and are in the military, you likely understand that the expectations that are placed on you are greater than those that are placed on civilians. If you are charged with and convicted of DUI, the penalties that you will face will be much harsher than those faced by others who are not service members.

Documents that a criminal defense attorney needs

People who have been charged with a crime in Washington will have to provide their attorney with several documents including their criminal record and the arrest documentation. Criminal defense attorneys need these and other documents so that they can help their clients counter the charges. It is important that a defendant's attorney has all of the same information that the prosecution has plus any evidence of an alibi.

Every defendant has the right to adequate representation

Washington residents who have been charged with a crime have the right to adequate representation by a lawyer. This right is directly linked to the Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial, because a fair trial is not possible without adequate representation. If a defendant's lawyer did not meet this standard, the correct ruling may not have been made.