When a person is exonerated for wrongful conviction based on new DNA evidence, Washington residents may hear about it, especially when the person was originally found guilty of serious crimes like murder or rape. About 3 to 5 percent of these types of cases are affected by DNA evidence. However, the estimates for exonerations of other crimes, ranging from aggravated assault to drug possession or theft, are not widely known.
According to a study from the American Economic Review, there are roughly 500,000 people in U.S. jails awaiting trial on any given day. The main reason why Washington residents and others may face this situation is a lack of money. The study also found that the average defendant made less than $7,000 in the year before they were taken into custody. Therefore, less than half were able to make bail even when set at $5,000 or less.
Identity theft, also known as identity fraud, is exactly what it sounds like. This is a type of crime in which a person wrongfully uses or obtains another individual's personal data in a matter that involves deception or fraud. Adding to this, the theft usually occurs so that the person stealing the data can make a financial gain.
Facing sentencing in a criminal case can be a dangerous time for any defendant, but it can be even more complex for Black men in Washington and throughout the United States. In a study by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, it was shown that Black men tend to receive significantly longer sentences than white men convicted of the same or similar crimes. The sentences of Black men can be 19.1 percent longer than those of white men on average, found commission researchers when examining sentencing data for people convicted between 2012 and 2016.
In Seattle criminal courts, many defendants are given the choice to accept a plea bargain rather than proceed to a jury trial. A study conducted by a professor at Loyola Law School shows that prosecutors may offer less favorable terms to minorities.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.