In the State of Washington, any person who commits a drug offense is deemed to have committed a Violation of the Uniform Controlled Substance Act (VUCSA). Common charges that fall under the VUCSA include possession, manufacturing, and distribution of controlled substances. These substances may be either prescription or illegal drugs. Washington state VUCSA penalties that accompany drug charges are serious, regardless of whether they involve drug felonies or misdemeanors.
If you are found in violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act in Washington State, you will need the advocacy of the experienced Seattle VUCSA charge attorney at Emerald City Law Group. We understand the court process surrounding drug charges, and we will work vigorously to have your charges dropped or lowered.
VUCSA Court Process in Washington State
Seattle drug lawyers at Emerald City Law Group understand that drug cases in Washington State always begin with an arrest. You will be arrested and escorted to jail by law enforcement if they believe you violated the Uniform Controlled Substance Act (UCSA). In most cases, you will be allowed to post bond within a few hours and leave jail. At this time, an experienced criminal defense attorney can advise you on the plea to make in the face of potential Washington state VUCSA penalties.
At arraignment, you will receive a formal reading of your charges. At this time, you will enter your initial plea. If you plead guilty, the judge may impose appropriate penalties based on your crime at a future scheduled sentencing date. If you plead not guilty, the judge will set a court date.
If you are staring down a VUCSA non-felony charge in municipal or district court and you have a private attorney, you can waive the arraignment. You may not do so if you have a public defender, or if the crime you are charged with is a felony.
It is recommended you enter a plea of not guilty at your arraignment unless your attorney has advised you with very good reason to plead otherwise. You will have the opportunity to change your plea if it becomes necessary at a later date.
Retaining representation at this point in VUCSA proceedings is vital so that you have support and advocacy you need as the process enters into pretrial motions, discovery hearings, and subpoenaing of witnesses.
A pretrial hearing allows the court to monitor and resolve issues surrounding the case. This hearing is often the point of the process during which the prosecution and defense negotiate an agreed-to outcome that minimizes potential Washington state VUCSA penalties in the case.
Some legal motions that we may present in your Washington VUCSA case include:
Motions to dismiss for:
- Violation of your right to a speedy trial
- Unconstitutional delay in filing charges
- Unlawful detention
- Government’s failure to preserve evidence
- Misconduct by the government
- Insufficient evidence of a crime
- Lack of probable cause to arrest
Motions to suppress:
- Evidence of invocation of right to an attorney
- Evidence of invocation to remain silent
- Evidence for violation of access to counsel
- Evidence for violation of the fourth amendment (invalid search)
- Involuntary statements
At a readiness hearing, each party will inform the court if they are prepared to proceed to trial as scheduled. Hindering factors on either side include more evidence to be discovered, unavailability of witnesses, or courtroom availability. At this hearing, it is also possible that your attorney and the prosecution may arrive at a negotiated disposition concerning the case, followed by sentencing. This only occurs in accordance with any determined Washington State VUCSA penalties.
Jury or Bench Trial
Some criminal cases do enter the full trial stage of the court process. If you do go to trial, you may have the option to have your case tried before a judge or a jury. A bench trial gives the judge authority as the exclusive fact finder in your case. A jury trial consists of randomly selected individuals from the community to sit as fact finders who ultimately decide if you are guilty or not guilty.
In felony cases before a jury, 12 jurors try the case. In misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor cases before a jury, you will face six jurors. You and your attorney can decide what type of trial may be best in order to minimize or eliminate any Washington state VUCSA penalties you are facing. However, obtaining a jury trial is often the favored option among defendants.
If convicted, you may face the following penalties governed by the sentencing guidelines of the state of Washington. Misdemeanors and felonies are defined by the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 9A.20.021.
- Simple Misdemeanor – Up to 90 days in jail, and a maximum $1,000 fine
- Gross Misdemeanor – Up to 364 days in jail, and a maximum $5,000 fine
- Class C Felony – Up to five years in prison, and fines reaching $10,000
- Class B Felony – Up to 10 years in prison, and fines reaching $20,000
- Class A Felony – Up to life in prison, and fines reaching $50,000
A judge may depart from the range of sentencing provided by these guidelines, only if certain mitigating or aggravating factors are present in your case. Certain mandatory Washington state VUCSA penalties also apply in felony cases, particularly those that involve drug offenses in a protected zone (such as a school zone), and firearm or deadly weapon enhancements.
In the State of Washington, judges make sentencing decisions in criminal cases. This holds true for both bench and jury trials.
Both the prosecution and the defense have the opportunity to make a sentence recommendation to the judge. However, judges have the final authority to impose the sentence they believe to be most appropriate for a specific criminal conviction.
As a convicted defendant, you have a right to speak on your own behalf before the judge at sentencing. As well, you may benefit from having family or friends speak or provide letters on your behalf to the judge before they decide on a sentence.
Facing Washington State VUCSA Penalties? Call our Seattle Drug Lawyers for Help
If you are facing one or more Washington state VUCSA penalties in your drug case, it is important to work with Seattle criminal defense attorneys who can use extensive law firm resources and skillful advocacy to fight for the reduction or elimination of your charges. At Emerald City Law Group, we can defend you vigorously with the intelligent representation you need.
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A Seattle Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
No matter the charges or accusations – You deserve an aggressive defense.
When people are ill-prepared for the criminal justice system or take their situation too lightly, the consequences are often dire and in most cases, permanent. By working with a King County criminal defense lawyer from Emerald City Law Group, you can rely on a personalized and proactive approach to your case, so every issue is addressed and you obtain the best possible outcome.
If you have been charged with a crime in or around King County, Washington, Emerald City Law Group should be your next call. 206-973-0407