Hiker Killed in Washington State

Washington Murder and Manslaughter Charges

Washington Homicide Charges

On August 20, 2022, Aron Christensen and his puppy were found deceased on a hiking trail in Lewis County. Two hikers in the area heard growling followed by a gunshot, and then found Aron Christensen’s body. Washington Homicide Charges are being investigated in connection with this tragic incident. Christensen’s family allege that the police had not given them the cause of death until a week after the body was received by the sheriff’s office. The reports found that the doctor performing Christensen’s autopsy reportedly was pressured into ruling the cause of death as a heart attack and not a gunshot wound. Additionally, two veterinarians conducting the dog’s autopsy each came up with different reasons for the dog’s cause of death, one being stabbed to death, and the other being a gunshot wound. The way that this situation was handled was unprofessional at best, and one can only hope the rest of the investigation will bring justice.

Homicide is a grave offense that strikes at the heart of our society, and we expect other officials to treat it as such. As an established criminal law firm, The Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer believes that everyone has a right to an experienced attorney and the right to due process. Our attorneys will fight to protect your rights in any situation. The carelessness of officials such as the Lewis County Sheriff’s office carries distrust in law enforcement and their commitment to the rights and protection of citizens.

Defining Homicide

Homicide refers to the act of unlawfully causing the death of another person. In Washington, as in most jurisdictions, homicide is categorized into various degrees based on the intent, circumstances, and severity of the act. The two main types of homicide are Murder and Manslaughter which mainly differ on whether or not the intent to cause the death of an individual was present. If Christensen was killed with premeditation or got into a heated argument with another person prompting the gun shot, then it would constitute a murder charge. However, if he was killed due to an accidental firing of the gun it would most likely result in a manslaughter charge.

Homicide Charges in Washington

Murder in the 1st Degree: Murder in the First Degree is the most severe form of homicide, is characterized by premeditation, deliberation, and intent to cause the death of another person. It can carry fines up to $50,000.00 and life in prison as a Class A Felony in the state of Washington.

Murder in the 2nd Degree: Murder in the Second Degree involves killing another person with the intent to cause death, but without premeditation. This charge is a Class A Felony with the same potential penalties as Murder in the First Degree.

Manslaughter in the 1st Degree: If one causes the death of another individual due to reckless behavior then it would be charged as Manslaughter in the First Degree. This offense is a Class A Felony with similar penalties as mentioned above.

Manslaughter in the 2nd Degree: Manslaughter in the Second Degree is committed when one causes the death of another individual due to some form of negligence. This is categorized as a Class B Felony and can carry up to 10 years in prison and $20,000.00 in fines.

How We Can Help You

Understanding the legal landscape surrounding homicide in the state of Washington is vital for anyone involved in or affected by such cases. Circumstances involved where the law enforcement agency such as the Lewis County Sheriff’s office not being able to conduct a proper autopsy where conflicting information is involved only leads to further complicate cases such as these. In such scenarios, it is important to have a skilled attorney at your side in order to protect your rights and freedom as there may be more missteps taken by officials that can lead to improper procedure and unintended consequences. The Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer works as a team of skilled attorneys that are passionate about their clients’ rights and work diligently to defend them to protect those rights. We are here to help you.

Call the Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer today at (360) 334-6277 to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys. Don’t hesitate to protect your rights and freedom.

Cell Phone Use While Driving and Its Legal Implications

Distracted Driving in Washington

Distracted Driving in Washington

On May 10th, 2021, tragedy struck on I-5 in Tacoma, Washington when Kyang Park’s tire check turned fatal. After pulling over on a shoulder due to a flat tire, Mr. Park stepped out of his vehicle and onto the right-hand lane to examine it, only to be struck and killed by another driver. The driver, 29-year-old Karley Cecil, was reportedly on her phone and updating her Facebook posts at the time of the accident. Her distracted driving and negligence resulted in the untimely death of the 78-year-old man in Washington State.

The wide-spread use of phones on the road is a notorious issue across the country. Studies show that the act of using a cell phone while driving causes a substantial amount of car accidents in the U.S., which is shown to be at around 10%. While there are laws in place to dissuade drivers from using cell phones while driving, there are still some that ignore the dangers and potential legal consequences. Normally cell phone use while driving is just a minor traffic violation, but depending on the circumstances it can be elevated up to a Class A Felony, such as Vehicular Homicide if similar circumstances such as Karley Cecil’s are present. When facing such distracted driving charges in Washington, it is important to seek out an attorney that is both knowledgeable and skilled to work in this area of law. The Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer is a top choice for those in need of a defense against these types of charges. With a wealth of experience defending our clients, our attorneys work tirelessly to create strong defenses to achieve the best possible outcome.

Legal Implications of Cell Phone Use While Driving

According to the Revised Code of Washington the use of an electronic device is holding the device in either or both hands. However, using a finger to skip a song, answer a call, or turn your phone off may be allowed. Additionally, using a car’s electronic display does not fall under this law. The first offense is considered a traffic violation that incurs a $136.00 fine. Although this may seem like a minor amount, it is important to note that any traffic violation can be reported to your insurance company, potentially leading to an increase in premiums. Therefore, the total cost of having the ticket being found committed could be higher than its face value, making it an indirectly expensive offense. If your actions lead to an accident or injury, consequences you face could be more severe, such as a criminal charge for Reckless Driving, Vehicular Assault, or even Vehicular Homicide. The different charges and their respective penalties are as follows:

Reckless Driving: This generally means operating a motor vehicle in such a way that it is endangering others around you. It is classified as a Gross Misdemeanor and punishable by up to $5,000.00 in fines and up to 364 days in jail.

Vehicular Assault: If you cause injury to another person while distracted on your phone, you could be charged with Vehicular Assault. This offense is a Class B Felony and carries up to 10 years in prison and up to a $20,000.00 fine.

Vehicular Homicide: If an individual causes the death of another person while using their cell phone while driving, they may face charges of Vehicular Homicide. This particular crime is a Class A Felony which carries penalties that range up to life in prison and up to a $50,000.00 fine.

Defending Against Criminal Charges Related to Cell Phone Use While Driving

One potential defense is to challenge the validity of the evidence. For example, if you were charged with texting while driving, your attorney may argue that the police officer did not have sufficient evidence to prove that you were texting. This may involve challenging the officer’s testimony or requesting a review of the phone records to determine if you were actually using your phone at the time of the alleged offense.

Another potential defense is to argue that the police officer violated your rights during the stop. For example, if you were stopped for using your phone, but the officer did not have probable cause to make the stop, your attorney may argue that the stop was unlawful and that any evidence obtained after the stop should be suppressed.

We Are Here For You

If you find yourself facing any charges mentioned in this article, hiring a lawyer is paramount to protecting your rights and future. The attorneys at the Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer are highly proficient in defending such cases and will work diligently to provide the best possible outcome for you.

Don’t wait, contact the Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer today to schedule your free consultation. Our phone number is (360) 334-6277.

Understanding Probation Violations: Causes, Consequences, and Strategies

Probation Violations

Probation Violation in Washington

In the realm of criminal justice, probation offers individuals the opportunity to reintegrate into society while under supervised conditions. However, probation comes with strict obligations and responsibilities, and any failure to comply with the terms can have serious consequences. The Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer is dedicated to helping you understand your responsibilities and legal rights. If you are facing a Probation Violation in Washington, our experienced defense attorneys can provide the guidance and representation you need to protect your rights and minimize the impact of the violation.

What is a Probation Violation?

Probation takes place after the resolution of your criminal charges wherein an individual is monitored and supervised for a period of time where they must operate in good behavior, comply with sentencing requirements, and refrain from any criminal activity. This applies to misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors. An offender’s probation officer will typically be the person enforcing the restrictions that the court has put in place in order to promote good behavior and allow the offender to get readjusted to society.

These restrictions usually look like drug tests, regular check-ins with your probation officer, counseling, treatment, fines, paying restitution, and agreeing to abstain from any criminal activity during the time of your probation. The restrictions enforced typically correspond with the associated crime to better help an offender establish good habits and prove they are able to take necessary steps to avoid reoffending. Failure to follow through on the restrictions placed during your probation will result in a probation violation which may lead to significant consequences.

What are the possible penalties for violating probation?

If you are found to have violated your probation there could be a number of penalties you may face. The restrictions around your probation may become stricter by having even more restrictions imposed, your probationary period may be prolonged, or it may even be revoked. Having your probation revoked means that you will be sent back to jail to finish a part of or the entire remainder of the original sentencing.

If your probation officer thinks or has reason to believe that you have violated your probationary restrictions, they will file a report and a hearing will be scheduled. The evidence needed to prove a probation violation has a lower standard as opposed to criminal proceedings, and needs to only prove that the violation was more likely than not to have occurred. Having an experienced attorney on your side to review your case and build a strong defense for you will be important in order to protect your freedom.

What can I do in the meantime?

Whether or not you are in a probation violation proceeding, it is of the utmost importance to understand the restrictions of your probation. Knowing your restrictions will help you avoid this situation altogether, and keep you out of further trouble if you are currently in a probation violation proceeding. Sticking to your guidelines, cooperating with your probation officer, and complying with your sentencing requirements are all good general positions to adopt while on probation.

Overall, probation violations are serious matters that require the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. If you have been accused of a probation violation in Washington, contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights and mitigate the consequences of a violation. Fighting probation violations requires highly skilled and experienced attorneys as the arguments tend to be highly technical, and the probation officers don’t have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. The Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer has highly experienced and knowledgeable attorneys that will fight for you and work for the best possible outcome.

Call the Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer at (360) 334-6277 today to schedule a free consultation and see how we can help you and your case.

What is Arson in the State of Washington? (Including Reckless Burning)

Arson Laws in Washington State

Arson Laws in Washington State

Facing an Arson charge can be incredibly strenuous as the penalties for Arson in the First Degree or in the Second Degree can be incredibly steep under Arson Laws in Washington. Arson, as defined by the Revised Code of Washington (RCW), is when one “knowingly and maliciously” causes fire or an explosion inflicting damage.

What are the potential penalties for Arson?

In the State of Washington, the potential convictions for Arson can be either a Class A or Class B Felony conviction. These convictions carry maximum penalties that range from 10 years to life in prison. The severity depends on  a number of factors including how much damage was inflicted as well taking into account whether or not you endangered lives in the act.

Arson 2nd Degree: Arson in the Second Degree is when one “knowingly or maliciously” causes damage to a building, structure or property by way of fire or an explosion. It is considered a Class B Felony and is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and up to a $20,000.00 fine.

Arson 1st Degree: Arson in the first degree is not only “knowingly or maliciously” causing a fire or explosion to damage a building, but also endangering human lives. This can be firefighters, people who live in the burning structure/building, or anyone who is present that is not participating in the crime. Insurance fraud also falls under this statute, as causing a fire or explosion on a property that is worth $10,000.00 or more with the intent to collect insurance money is also considered Arson in the First Degree. This charge is a Class A Felony carrying penalties ranging up to life in prison and up to $50,000.00 in fines.

What if I caused an accidental fire or explosion? 

The most important piece that the prosecutor must prove in any case of arson is your intention. Causing a fire by leaving a campfire unattended, incorrect equipment use, or negligently discarded cigarettes do not count as arson.

Reckless Burning 2nd Degree: Reckless Burning in the Second Degree is committed when one endangers a building, or other property with fire. Reckless Burning in the Second Degree is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in prison, and $5,000 in fines.

Reckless Burning 1st Degree: Reckless Burning in the First Degree is charged when a person recklessly starts a fire that damages a building or other property. The key difference between Reckless Burning and Arson is the intention behind it, as Reckless Burning assumes there was no malicious intent. Reckless Burning in the First Degree is a Class C Felony carrying up to 5 years in prison and $10,000.00 in fines.

Understanding the seriousness of Arson Laws in Washington State

Arson is a serious crime in Washington and is taken very seriously by the legal system. If you are convicted of arson, you could face significant penalties, including fines, jail time, and even life in prison in some cases. It’s important to note that arson charges can be complex and require a thorough investigation by law enforcement. In some cases, the evidence against a defendant may not be clear, and there may be potential defenses or mitigating circumstances that can be raised in court.

Committed to helping you

If you are facing arson charges, it’s important to work with a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney who can help protect your rights and build a strong defense on your behalf. Your attorney can review the evidence against you, investigate the circumstances and situation of the alleged crime, and work to build a defense strategy that is tailored to your specific case.

In addition to facing criminal charges, arson defendants may also face civil lawsuits for damages caused by the fire. If you are facing both criminal and civil charges, it’s important to work with an attorney who has experience handling both types of cases. The Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer will work to investigate, defend, and build a strong case to provide you with the best outcome possible.

Set up a free confidential consultation with the Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer today and discuss your options and case with one of our highly experienced and knowledgeable attorneys. 

Vehicular Homicide and What to Do

Vehicular Homicide Laws in Washington

Vehicular Homicide Laws in Washington

Fatalities in car accidents may seem like a rare occurrence, but it is not out of the question. In the State of Washington, 745 fatalities occurred from car accidents alone last year. Getting into a car accident which results in the death of another person has serious legal consequences like being charged with Vehicular Homicide in Washington. In serious cases such as vehicular homicide, defenses can be very technical and demand intuition and understanding. Understand the legal implications and consequences. Learn about Vehicular Homicide laws in Washington. Hiring a knowledgeable and experienced attorney is in your best interest as it will likely affect the outcome of your case. The Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer handles a number of vehicular homicide cases each year, and has many skilled lawyers ready to vigorously defend you in court.

When can I be charged with vehicular homicide?

The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) has three main prongs under which you can be charged and convicted of vehicular homicide. It is considered a class A felony  as it carries up to life in prison and up to $50,000 in fines. Additionally a conviction brings along a strike offense. Racking up three strike offenses in the State of Washington is an automatic life imprisonment sentence. Travel and license restrictions may be imposed on you, as well as mandates for treatment.

Driving Under the Influence: Driving while having alcohol or THC from marijuana in your bloodstream will generally fall under DUI. Being intoxicated with a blood or alcohol level of at least 0.08 or TCH concentration of 5.00 is considered Driving Under the Influence. Having a lower level of intoxication than the legal limit can still impair your ability to drive and play a causal role in such an accident. This is the most serious of the three as depending on your sentencing 2 years can be added for every prior infraction of the alcohol and drugs as outlined in a related statute going on to reference penalties, fines and treatment of alcohol and drug related convictions.

Reckless Driving: This generally means endangering others on the road due to the way in which you are operating your motor vehicle. Inattentiveness, high speeds, or aggressive driving can be considered as reckless driving.

Disregard for the Safety of Others: Operating a motor vehicle in such a manner in which it isn’t quite considered reckless driving but also not considered ordinary negligence, falls under this category. Distracted driving or being on your phone driving are a couple of good examples of this.

Vehicular homicide can get complicated quickly

In November of 2022 Liming Gao was driving on North East 130th Street when his car went off of the overpass and landed on I-5, causing an accident involving multiple vehicles which proved fatal for a 29 year-old woman. At the scene the police went on to conduct a field sobriety test in which Liming Gao was suspected of driving under the influence prior to the accident. Gao’s bail was set at $2 million and was charged with vehicular homicide.

Vehicular homicide cases are very complex and serious cases with a number of moving components. The state may also take several months of investigating before you are charged, so retaining a lawyer as soon as possible and starting your own investigations will be crucial. Having a skilled lawyer to handle your case will allow for a thorough analysis of your case, helping the overall outcome of your case. Given the strict liability character of these offenses, a skilled practitioner and even accident specialists might be needed in order to defend you properly. If you were Gao wouldn’t you want highly experienced and skilled lawyers defending your case? At the Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer we can offer you highly skilled legal professionals, ready to defend you and provide the best possible outcome.

Call the Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer and schedule a free consultation with us today.