Law Office of Amy Muth, PLLC

Seattle Criminal Defense Law Blog

Welcome New Attorney Jennifer Atwood!

The Law Office of Amy Muth welcomes Jennifer Atwood, Attorney, to its practice! Jennifer and Amy began their careers in public defense together in 2002 in Kitsap County, Washington. Jennifer, like Amy, is a career criminal defense attorney. Jennifer comes to the Law Office of Amy Muth after spending over 11 years working for The Defender Association Division of the King County Department of Public Defense. Jennifer is a seasoned trial lawyer, having obtained acquittals in numerous serious cases, including sex offenses. Jennifer has a varied amount of expertise, having worked in the misdemeanor appeals, felony, juvenile, and mental health commitments divisions, but juvenile and youthful offenders are a particular focus; she has spent four years representing indigent youths in criminal matters. Jennifer will expand the firm's practice areas to include juvenile cases, protection order matters, appeals, and is building a school discipline and Title IX practice. Welcome, Jennifer!

Do people on federal supervised release have the right to a jury?

Andre Haymond of Oklahoma was convicted in federal court of possessing child pornography in 2010. As part of his sentence, he was placed on supervised release for 10 years. When he was accused of violating his supervised release, he was ordered to serve an additional 5 years in prison -- longer than his original term of incarceration. Now, he is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that he should have received a jury trial before being sentenced to the additional five years.

Federal supervised release is different from state parole or probation. In parole or probation, the defendant is given the chance to serve part of their incarceration sentence in the community under certain conditions. If they violate those conditions, they are returned to serve the remainder of their sentence behind bars.

Should people accused of violent crime be eligible for diversion?

Court diversion programs are a way to keep people out of prison, which is crucial in our age of mass incarceration. These programs usually target groups of people such as veterans acting out due to service-related issues or people whose crimes were motivated by addiction.

In general, eligible offenders agree to plead guilty and enter a court-ordered program to help them address their addiction, PTSD or other specific issues. Successful completion typically results in the charges being dropped altogether.

Appeal: Clicking one link shouldn't justify a full-home search

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (and the Washington State Constitution) protect people from unreasonable searches and seizures. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled time and again that a person's home, in particular, deserves heightened protection.

Home searches generally require judicially authorized warrants. Further, judges should only authorize such warrants when they are fully confident that the probable cause standard was met.

DNA exonerates man of shocking rape after 37 years in prison

When a set of allegations is explosive enough, the police are under immense pressure to solve the crime. That can lead to corners being cut, such as targeting the most likely suspect to the exclusion of all others. Witness statements that don't match the police's theory may be ignored, as may evidence tending to show the suspect isn't guilty. When the allegations are especially shocking, the risk of a false conviction seems to increase.

The allegations against Eric Prudholm, now 58, were horrifying. In June 1981, three men entered a Louisiana motel room occupied by a married couple and their three children. According to the police, the men forced the husband to lie on one bed with the children while two assailants raped the wife. Meanwhile, the third man searched the victims' car for items to steal.

What are the domestic violence laws and policies in Washington?

If you have been accused of domestic violence in Washington State, you need to know exactly what you are accused of. There are also important legal policies you should be aware of.

How does Washington define domestic violence?

Under the Revised Code of Washington Section 10.99.020, domestic violence is defined as (but not limited to) any of 23 specific criminal offenses against a family or household member. The specific offenses include:

In terror case, how do we know whether threats were just talk?

Last July, a 23-year-old man named Amer A. pled guilty to providing material support to terrorists. We'd all like to believe that the guilty plea got a dangerous person off the streets. Unfortunately, people plead guilty of a wide variety of reasons, including intense pressure from prosecutors to make a deal or face a much harsher sentence at trial. Now, Amer is up for sentencing -- but what if what he did was talk?

The prosecution has asked for a sentence of 33 years plus lifetime probation. The defense asked the judge to follow a probation officer's recommendations and give him just four years followed by three years of probation.

False confessions led to convictions for the 'Norfolk 4'

In 1997, Michelle Moore-Bosko's husband discovered her body, raped, stabbed and strangled, in the apartment they shared. He had been at sea the previous week. The police immediately identified a neighbor, Navy sailor Danial Williams, as the prime suspect because he reportedly had a crush on the victim.

Williams confessed to the crime, as did four other men. Williams, along with three other sailors, Eric Wilson, Joseph Dick and Derek Tice, say they were coerced into those confessions. One described a police detective shoving him into a corner and confronting him with a photo of the victim's bloody body. The four, now known as "the Norfolk Four," say they were repeatedly called liars and threatened with the death penalty. They say they simply cracked under pressure.

The First Step Act offers bipartisan criminal justice reform

It's not every day that the American Civil Liberties Union and President Trump agree on legislation, but groups from across the political spectrum have come together to support the federal First Step Act. The bill promises significant reforms to both federal criminal sentencing and to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. What would the law do?

Finally end the 100:1 sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine

SCOTUS to decide sex offenders' right to trial on new charges

When a convicted sex offender on supervised release is accused of a new offense, how should they be sentenced? Should the penalty be the one for violating their supervised release terms, or should they be sentenced as if they had been convicted of the new offense?

In 2010, Andre H. was convicted of federal child pornography offenses. He was sentenced to three years in prison and 10 years of supervised release. A couple of years into his supervised release period, probation officers launched a surprise raid of his apartment. They seized his cellphone and several computers. The officers discovered several -- perhaps five -- images that they deemed to be child pornography, along with evidence that Andre had been searching online for sexually explicit material (which generally isn't illegal).

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