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Have you ever had a police officer ask to search your car during a traffic stop? Were you unsure about how to handle the request? Understanding the law — and your rights — can help you handle this stressful situation a little more smoothly.

First Things First

When you see those flashing lights in your rearview mirror, the first thing you should do is quickly find a safe place to pull over. Turn off your car and place both hands on the wheel where the officer can see them. Be polite and comply if the officer asks to see your license and registration.

How to Handle a Search Request

If an officer asks you to exit the car, do so calmly. If an officer requests to search your car, you have the right to refuse to consent to this action. Make sure you state your refusal clearly and succinctly but do not physically resist in any way.

The officer can frisk the outside of your clothing if they suspect you may be carrying a weapon. They can also search your car under a few different circumstances: if they have probable cause, meaning when they see or smell something illegal in your vehicle; during an ongoing emergency; or if you consent to a search.

What to Do Next

Find out if you’re being detained or are under arrest. If you’ve refused to consent to a search but an officer is insisting that you remain on the scene, ask them if you are being detained or if you are free to go. If the officer says you are not free to go, then you are being detained.

In this case, inform the officer that you will not be answering any further questions and ask to see a lawyer immediately.

Police Searches: Know Your Rights

If you have questions about your case, please contact us at or (253) 236-4079.


If you’ve been involved in an auto accident or were the victim of a crime, it can be hard to know what to do next, especially if you’ve been injured or are worried about your safety. Most likely, one of the first steps you’ll take is to file a police report while the details of the incident are still fresh on your mind.

The Purpose of a Police Report

A police report kicks off an investigation, whether into a fender bender or a crime perpetrated against someone. Sometimes law enforcement can also provide insight or observe details that you might miss due to being shaken up by the crime or accident.

Why File One?

In the case of a car accident, especially a minor one, you might not think you need to contact the police. But it’s usually a good idea — and sometimes it’s the law — to have a record of the incident. If injuries or damage show up later, they can be much harder to prove without a report on file. Insurance companies also typically want to see official accident reports for claim purposes.

When to File

If you’re the victim of a crime, you should know that many crimes have a statute of limitations, which puts a time limit on when charges can be filed. Nonviolent crimes such as theft usually have shorter statutes of limitations, while more severe offenses might not have a statute of limitations at all.

Either way, it’s important to file as soon as possible. Please reach out if you have questions.

When should you file a police report?

If you have questions about your case, please contact us at or (253) 236-4079.


Podcasts are a go-to source of information and entertainment these days, and no matter what you’re interested in you’re sure to find an intriguing option to listen to during your commute or at the gym.

If you happen to be fascinated by legal topics, here are five podcasts you might want to subscribe to.

1. The popular “Ear Hustle” podcast examines the day-to-day life of those living behind bars at San Quentin State Prison in California. Its hosts are two inmates and a local artist who volunteers at the prison.

2. The University of Cincinnati School of Criminal Justice produces an informative podcast called “Criminal Justice Office Hours.” The topics covered include probation, cybercrime and the consequences of having a criminal record.

3. Harvard University throws its hat in the legal podcast ring with “Voir Dire: Conversations From the Criminal Justice Policy Program at Harvard Law School.” Led by a student attorney, this podcast features in-depth interviews with those on the front lines of criminal justice reform.

4. University of Pittsburgh law professor David Harris has hosted a podcast since 2015 called “Criminal Injustice.” The weekly show centers on the problems within the criminal justice system, including police use of force and racial discrimination.

5. Finally, for a compelling listen that focuses on the intricate details of human nature and the legal system, try “Serial.” In each season (two have aired so far), host Sarah Koenig works painstakingly to uncover the truth behind a mysterious crime.

Remember, none of these podcasts are a substitute for professional legal advice. If you need assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out.

5 Compelling Criminal Justice Podcasts

If you have questions about your case, please contact us at or (253) 236-4079.


If you or a loved one has been convicted of a crime, you might have wondered about appealing, or asking a higher court to review the case. How does this process work?

Most importantly, you need to have a competent defense attorney to help you navigate the courts.

But there are other things to keep in mind:

– Guilty Plea vs. Being Found Guilty: If a person pleads guilty, they don’t automatically have the right to appeal. They must receive permission from the courts to proceed. However, if they are found guilty by a jury or judge, they have the right to appeal.

– Appealing Isn’t Automatic: If a person thinks they’ve been wrongly convicted, they have the right to appeal. But they must have their attorney(s) file a notice of appeal.

– Deadlines: Perhaps the most important thing to remember when appealing is that the notice must be filed by a certain date. This date varies from court to court, but can be as little as 10 days post-conviction.

– What’s Needed: In addition to filing the notice of appeal, the attorney will order a copy of the trial transcript from the court reporter and write an appellate brief arguing the case.

– What to Expect: An appeals hearing isn’t a new trial. Records of the lower court’s proceedings (transcript, motions, evidence) will be reviewed and there will be briefs and oral arguments from both sides. The review process looks for egregious errors only.

What Can Happen Next

– The court upholds the conviction.

– The case is sent back to the lower court for additional proceedings.

– The conviction is tossed out and a new trial is ordered.

– If the conviction is upheld, extraordinary measures such as writs may be taken.

Please reach out if you have any questions about the appellate process.

What to Know About Appealing Convictions

If you have questions about your case, please contact us at or (253) 236-4079.


During the job application process, you may have been told by a potential employer that you’d be subjected to a background check before being hired. But do you know what this involves?

Being informed and prepared for what might show up — especially if you have a criminal record — can help your job search go a lot smoother.

What is a background check?

There are a few types of background checks, including criminal background checks and more comprehensive pre-employment background checks. If you’re applying for a federal job or another high-security job, you might need to undergo a fingerprint or FBI background check.

What will show up?

Various factors can affect what the check reveals. A pre-employment background check will cover education, employment and license verification in addition to searching criminal records.

If you’ve previously been arrested and/or convicted, you’re probably more worried about your criminal record. A criminal history check will often include felony and misdemeanor convictions, any pending cases, and details of any jail time served as an adult.

Arrests that didn’t lead to convictions may or may not show up, depending on the databases searched. Many juvenile records will be sealed and will not appear during a check.

More in-depth background checks, such as the fingerprint and FBI searches, can reveal any interaction you’ve ever had with law enforcement agencies that report to the FBI. This could include traffic and parking tickets.

What are your rights?

As a job applicant, you do have rights. Employers must have your written permission to conduct a background check. Some states have enacted laws forbidding disclosure of certain convictions after a designated number of years.

Have questions? Reach out today.

What to Expect From a Background Check

If you have questions about your case, please contact us at or (253) 236-4079.


Has your car ever been searched during a routine traffic stop? Have police officers entered your home when you weren’t there? Are these things even allowed to happen?

You might not think much about the Fourth Amendment as you go about your everyday life, but knowing what it protects — and what it doesn’t — could come in handy someday.

Let’s take a look at the basics:

What does it say?

The Fourth Amendment reads: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

What does this mean?

In layman’s terms, this means that under most circumstances, law enforcement must have probable cause and a warrant to search you, your vehicle or your home. If it is found that police conducted an illegal search to obtain evidence, this evidence cannot be used against you in court. This is known as the “exclusionary rule.”

Of course, there are gray areas when it comes to search and seizure laws and what rights you do and do not have.

When is a warrant unnecessary?

There are some instances when police don’t need a warrant to perform a search, including:

During an emergency, such as a pursuit of a fugitive If consent is given (including by a roommate or spouse)If there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in the location being searched.

If you’ve been subjected to a warrantless search or believe your Fourth Amendment rights have been violated, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.

Know Your Fourth Amendment Rights

If you have questions about your case, please contact us at or (253) 236-4079.


Warrants give law enforcement the authority to carry out an action — often a search or an arrest — in the name of justice. If you’ve been served with a warrant, you know it can be scary and confusing. Read on to better understand the process, including how to find outstanding ones.

What Is a Warrant?

There are several types, including arrest, bench, search and fugitive warrants. When there’s probable cause that a crime has been committed, officers can obtain an arrest warrant for a suspect. If an individual fails to appear in court, a judge can issue a bench warrant. Search warrants authorize law enforcement to look for evidence of a particular crime in a specified location. A fugitive warrant allows one jurisdiction to arrest an individual who’s wanted in another jurisdiction.

How the Process Works

Judges issue warrants, either at their discretion or upon request by law enforcement. Police must present the court with evidence for probable cause when asking for a search warrant. If the judge determines that the police have submitted enough evidence, a search warrant is granted. Judges can issue a bench warrant for any missed court appearance, whether it’s related to a crime, subpoena or summons.

Searching for a Warrant

Individuals curious about outstanding warrants can search the online database in their respective counties. You can also contact the court clerk for the jurisdiction in question, or let an attorney look into it for you.

Know Your Rights

It’s important to know how to act and what your rights are during any police interaction, including when a warrant is being served. Stay calm, and remember that you always have the right to remain silent.

How Warrants Work in the U.S.

If you have questions about your case, please contact us at or (253) 236-4079.


Summertime means more teenagers are out of school and getting behind the wheel to head to seasonal jobs or hang out with friends. Statistics show that the period from Memorial Day to Labor Day is among the most dangerous for those aged 16 to 19 — so dangerous that AAA has labeled it the “100 deadliest days” for teenagers.

What can you do to encourage younger drivers to make safe decisions when they’re on the road? Read on to learn more about this age group’s worst driving habits and how you can help.

Why Teens Are at Risk

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the majority of crashes caused by this age group are the result of poor visual scanning, speeding and distraction. The latter accounted for almost 60 percent of teen accidents from 2010 to 2015. Talking to passengers (15 percent), using a cellphone (12 percent) and looking at something else within the car (11 percent) landed at the top of the list.

How You Can Help

Set a good example with your driving behaviors. Children learn by watching those they ride with, so make a point to be a valuable role model.

Work with your teen driver to improve visual scanning skills. Encourage them to look farther down the road and widen their peripheral vision, which can help them anticipate what’s coming and react accordingly.

Create a parent-teen driving agreement that clarifies your expectations, including straightforward safety rules and penalties for breaking them.

Take an active role in your teen’s introduction to driving. Enrolling teens in an effective education program, giving them time to practice and being patient as they learn can help mold their future behind the wheel.

How You Can Help Teens Drive Safely

If you have questions about your case, please contact us at or (253) 236-4079.


No one wants to be involved in a car accident. Unfortunately, bad habits such as distracted driving make these incidents a reality for most drivers sooner or later. Whether you’re involved in a minor fender bender or a major accident, there are certain steps you should take after the fact to protect yourself and others.

Stay Safe

Turn on your hazard lights and safely maneuver your vehicle off the road and out of the way of oncoming traffic, if possible. Do not attempt to retrieve items such as a license plate or bumper from the road. Avoid confrontation with the other driver(s) involved, but don’t claim responsibility, either. That’s for the authorities to sort out later on.

Call the Police

In the case of potential injury, dial 911 immediately. Even if no one appears to be injured, you should still contact the police and file a report so everything is documented for insurance purposes. The police department will decide whether it’s necessary to send an officer to the scene.

Gather the Appropriate Information

It can be hard to think clearly immediately after an accident. Keep a copy of this post-accident checklist in your glove compartment to help you organize your thoughts and collect the information the insurance companies — and possibly the authorities — will need. This checklist includes items such as taking photos of the scene to show road conditions, vehicle damage and other circumstances relevant at the time of the accident.


Car accidents are never fun, but being prepared can help you minimize the stress of an already difficult situation. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, contact our team of experienced attorneys today for a free consultation at or (206) 309-5854.

3 Things You Should Do After a Car Accident

If you have questions about your case, please contact us at or (253) 236-4079.


Whether it was on the evening news or your favorite courtroom drama, you’ve probably heard the term “aiding and abetting” a few times. But do you know exactly what it is? Learn more about the possible ways you could get in trouble, even if you didn’t commit a crime.

What Is the Legal Definition?

The crime of aiding and abetting refers to “a person’s action to help, support or approve of someone else’s illegal act.” U.S. laws relating to aiding and abetting date back to 1790 and have been updated several times since.

Proving the Crime

In order to convict someone of aiding and abetting a federal crime, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person not only knew about a crime that someone else perpetrated, but they also specifically assisted with some element of the crime, even in a seemingly minor way.

Accessories and Accomplices

Many people often use the terms “accessory” and “accomplice” interchangeably, but there is a difference. An accessory is a person who probably isn’t there when the crime is being committed but who becomes a participant either before or after the act. An accomplice intentionally assists with the illegal activity.

How to Avoid Aiding and Abetting

There are several ways you can avoid becoming an accessory or an accomplice. Don’t handle stolen goods. Don’t hide or destroy evidence of a crime. Don’t allow someone who is running from the law to stay with you, and don’t give them money if they ask for it. Encourage them to turn themselves in to law enforcement, and be truthful if the police question you about the person in trouble.

What to Know About Aiding and Abetting

If you have questions about your case, please contact us at or (253) 236-4079.