We have been representing clients in criminal defense matters across Washington state for almost 30 years. These include many domestic violence cases. We have also been representing clients in Spokane cases over the course of many years. So why should you retain the Law Office of Mark Knapp PLLC to represent you?
Initial Consultation. A criminal defense lawyer, Mark Knapp, will answer all your phone calls immediately. That means you will be talking to the attorney, not a receptionist. In most non-felony cases , we charge a flat-fee retainer to appear which includes attending the Arraignment and the Pretrial Conferences. If trial preparation becomes necessary, there will also be an additional Trial Retainer. Felonies can be more expensive.
Arraignment. If you retain a criminal defense lawyer before the Arraignment, we can often waive arraignment so that you will not need to attend. If you must go to the Arraignment without representation, you will normally plead not guilty and bail is often discussed. Even if you have already been released on personal recognizance or have already posted bail, you should have counsel when you appear for the Arraignment. There are situations where the judge might order a new bail bond. This situation results from a violation of your terms of release. Examples are getting a new DUI right after you are released from jail on another DUI. Or attempting to contact a victim where there is a No Contact Order.
Pretrial Conference. A number of things happen at a Pretrial Conference and at the Omnibus Hearing in a felony case. The Defense Attorney will try to discuss your case with the Prosecutor. The courtroom deputy often knows nothing about your case and has not even read the police reports in many cases. Some courtrooms have negotiators in another room that will meet with you attorney and become familiar with your case. They can offer to reduce the charges or even dismiss the charges in some cases. This process may take several meetings and/or telephone conversations. Thus, there may be more than one Pretrial Conference or Omnibus.
Discovery. During the time your defense attorney and the prosecutors discuss the case, information is exchanged in a process called discovery. It starts about the time of the first Pretrial Conference when the Prosecutor’s Office provides police reports, photographs, witness statements and other evidence such as videos and 911 tapes to the defense lawyer. We carefully review these documents and other evidence to determine whether there are facts providing a basis to move for a dismissal such as lack of probable cause. In Washington, there is no Grand Jury or Preliminary Hearing to protect against prosecutors that overcharge by stacking charges on top of each other in order to make you feel hopeless. The Pretrial Conference(or Omnibus in a felony case) is also an opportunity to schedule Motions and get the judge involved in the process of gathering any evidence that might help exonerate the person charged with a crime.
Prosecutorial Misconduct. It has recently become more common for prosecutors to withhold important evidence. Many prosecutors are young and see the criminal justice system like a game that is played to be won. There are often no consequences for withholding evidence and they are so busy that they delegate the discovery demands to lower level assistants who just mechanically provide the documents that are received from the arresting officers. Some judges have been dismissing the most flagrant cases due to lies and other prosecutorial misconduct.
Guilty Plea. Most cases don’t get dismissed, however. The prosecutor may dismiss one charge in return for a plea of guilty to another or reduce a felony charge to a misdemeanor. This means the defense attorney still needs to be prepared to go to trial at least up until the time the Plea Agreement is accepted by the court. Whether there is a Plea Agreement or a trial, the jail time is determined by the standard range in a felony case. This depends on how many prior offenses you have on your record and the seriousness level of the current offenses. Many misdemeanor and gross misdemeanors result in no jail time. Some cases like DUIs have mandatory minimum penalties that require time in jail.
Preparing for Trial. Trial preparation includes interviewing witnesses, preparing jury instructions and developing strategies for cross-examining the State’s witnesses. Police Officers deal with criminal defense lawyers and courtroom tactics on a fairly regular basis and know what to say to persuade the jury that they have been very diligent in their investigations. We will be ready to ask questions about every aspect of the case in order to show that there are reasons to doubt the State’s witnesses.
Conclusions. Careful research and investigation means that the Law Office of Mark Knapp will be prepared starting right from the first phone call and Initial Consultation through the trial. Call (509) 237-5464.