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Elements required for charge of tampering with physical evidence

Tampering with evidence is a criminal act in most jurisdictions across the country. In the state of Washington, tampering with physical evidence is made illegal by statute. The elements of the offense are similar in many jurisdictions. In most states, generally speaking, the prosecution must prove intent, knowledge, evidence and an awareness of a pending or potential investigation to secure a conviction for evidence tampering.

What are leading questions in criminal trials?

Washington residents who are facing criminal charges and who plan to go to trial may have heard about leading questions and wonder what they are. These are questions that are asked by criminal defense lawyers of witnesses at certain times during the trial. Leading questions are designed to elicit responses from the witnesses by leading them to the answers. In many cases, the answer to a leading question will either be yes or no.

The Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination

Most Washington residents will have seen films or television shows in which criminal suspects assert their constitutional rights by 'taking the Fifth" when questioned by police officers or prosecutors. The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which is part of the Bill of Rights, states that people cannot be compelled to provide testimony against themselves. Criminal suspects can invoke their Fifth Amendment rights at any time, and the protections provided apply while in police custody and in the courtroom.

The Sixth Amendment and the right to a speedy trial

The rights of criminal defendants in Washington state and around the country are protected by the U.S. Constitution, and the Sixth Amendment guarantees defendants the right to an attorney, the right to confront witnesses who testify against them and the right to a speedy trial before an impartial jury. The speedy trial provision of the amendment guarantees that criminal cases should be resolved within a reasonable amount of time, but what is and what is not a reasonable delay has been the subject of contentious legal debate.

Challenging hacking by the government

There has been an increasing use of hacking by federal law enforcement officials using malware. Criminal defense attorneys in the state of Washington and the rest of the country have strategies to combat this form of surveillance and to keep evidence that was obtained illegal from being brought into court.

What happens when a prosecutor withholds evidence

For Seattle residents who are facing criminal charges, the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Brady v. Maryland may be relevant. The Court held that if a prosecutor uncovers evidence that is favorable and material to the defendant, the prosecutor must reveal that information. This is true even if the evidence is not necessarily exculpatory. If it comes to light that a prosecutor has not done this, a new trial could result.

Being charged as an accomplice in Washington

Washington residents who help others to commit crimes may be charged as accomplices, and the penalties they face will be generally be based on their level of involvement. Individuals may sometimes be considered complicit for simply not doing enough to prevent a crime from being committed. One of the most important considerations when assessing the culpability of accomplices is whether or not the assistance they provided was offered knowingly and voluntarily.

Applying the lay opinion rule in Washington

According to the Federal Rules of Evidence, witnesses are generally not allowed to give their opinions while testifying unless they are an expert witness. However, a layperson may be allowed to give opinions if it provides context or otherwise bolsters his or her testimony. There are several areas in which a layperson may provide opinions on the stand including whether he or she believed someone was sober or the physical condition of an individual.

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