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Search And Seizure – Seattle Defense Lawyer News – Positive Resolution For Crowley Law Firm PLLC Client

The laws regarding search and seizure by police authorities are not always as cut and dried as they may seem. You need a experienced criminal defense lawyer to carefully examine your case and make sure procedures are followed to the letter of the law. The Crowley Law Firm PLLC  just defended in one such case which has culminated in a very positive result for his client. In this case, the limits of an “inventory search” were in question.

A client of The Crowley Law Firm, PLLC was pulled over by a King County Sherriff’s Deputy while on his way home from work. The officer’s reason for the stop: he ran a random records check of the registered owner of the car, a 1990s model Cadillac, and that check showed that the owner of the vehicle had a suspended license for failure to pay a fine. Upon contact with the driver the officer confirmed his identify and immediately arrested him for driving on a suspended license. Because his car was impeding a public roadway, the officer decided to impound the vehicle, which a police officer is empowered to do under certain circumstances.

However, in this case, it became clear that the officer simply wanted to perform a general exploratory search of the vehicle; the officer called it an “inventory search”—which is a search that allows an officer to search an impounded vehicle not for evidence of a crime but to make sure that any valuables in the car are documented for safe keeping.

The officer’s interest was likely peaked by criminal history check which included a felony conviction that was 20 years old. When he searched the car, the officer found a small handgun in the center console of the vehicle. Knowing about the prior conviction, the officer officially arrested our client for being a felon in possession of a firearm, a Class B Felony with a maximum penalty of ten years in prison. In addition, the firearm was later determined to be stolen.

Through a referral, the client contacted The Crowley Law Firm, PLLC, to defend him from this charge. The deputy had failed to follow King County Sherriff’s Office’s protocol for “inventory searches.” More importantly, the officer was required to ask for permission to search the vehicle to conduct the inventory search, which the officer clearly failed to do in this case.

Given these facts, if the case proceeded to trial, it is likely that the gun would have been suppressed and not admissible in trial. Rather than take the chances of a trial, the firm negotiated a substantial reduction in the charge—from Unlawful Possession of a Firearm in the First Degree and Possession of a Stolen Firearm to a misdemeanor. Additionally, the client would serve no jail time under the plea agreement.

The Crowley Law Firm PLLC is a Seattle firm with offices in Yakima and serving all of Washington State including, Bellevue, Renton, Olympia, Kent, Spokane, Bellingham and many any Washington cities. They are experienced criminal defense lawyers with a strong appellate practice to serve all their clients legal needs.