Frequently when we first meet with a potential client at SQ Attorneys they are initially confused about the difference between what is an arrest, and what is an actual conviction. So … in an effort to clear up the misunderstanding, we explain below:
An arrest happens when a police officer has what is termed ‘probable cause’ or ‘reasonable suspicion’ to believe that someone might have committed a crime. The standard is really not all that high and is, in essence, based upon a reasonable person standard, taking into account both a subjective (an inside or personal point of view) and an objective view point (an outside or impersonal point of view). In reality, all that is needed for an arrest is the fact that an officer suspects someone of committing a crime; this broad standard leaves officers with a lot of discretion and often can lead to a bogus arrest.
Unlike an arrest, which – as noted above – can happen virtually anytime an officer has a suspicion that a crime has occurred, a conviction takes place when either (1) a prosecutor has been deemed to have proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law, or (2) a defendant charged with a crime pleads guilty in a court of law. In order for a conviction to happen, the aforementioned arrest has to turn into a formal accusation of a crime via a charging document filed in a criminal court (known as a ‘complaint’) by a prosecuting attorney.
Obviously the difference between an arrest and a conviction is quite important. An arrest means that a police officer has reason to believe that someone might have done something illegal; it does not mean they are guilty. A conviction means that person either by a plea or finding beyond a reasonable doubt did commit a crime; it does mean they are guilty. Mixing the two concepts up can have a wide ranging impact on a person’s life. Sadly, it can, and does, impact jobs, friendships and even the ability to rent or lease things.
If you or a loved one is arrested or charged with a crime, you should immediately seek the advice and/or assistance of a qualified Seattle criminal defense attorney. The Seattle Criminal Defense Attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified and reputable Seattle criminal defense lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those arrested or charged for crime all across Western Washington and the Greater Puget Sound region. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the criminal allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances of the given case. So, whether you are arrested or charged with misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or a felony, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys at (206) 441-0900.