James K. Morgan graduated from Gonzaga University School of Law in 1978.
James K. Morgan graduated from Gonzaga University School of Law in 1978, and moved to Longview, Washington in 1983. After three years working as a Deputy Prosecutor in the Cowlitz County Prosecutor’s Office, he embarked on his own private practice, devoted to criminal defense. He has successfully won acquittals after trial for defendant’s who where wrongly prosecuted for murder, assault, rape, child molestation and drug delivery.
Under the laws of the State of Washington, certain convictions are subject to vacation from a person’s record. The legal mechanism of a vacation is a two step process that works first by either withdrawing a plea of guilty or the setting aside a finding of guilt after a trial and then by, second, having the court dismiss the charge. Eligibility for a vacation of conviction depends on the nature of the conviction, the passage of time since the conviction, and the absence or timing of other criminal convictions. The time period to vacate a misdemeanor is generally three years from the completion of the sentence. The time period to vacate a felony ranges from five to ten years from the completion of the sentence depending on the felony’s classification. In such qualifying cases, we can provide the service of procuring court orders which would vacate such conviction from a person’s record. We additionally can assist people who have juvenile convictions seal their court files if they are eligible under the law. It is a common misconception that juvenile records automatically seal upon a person turning eighteen years of age. That is incorrect. It takes affirmative steps by the person, or their attorney, to seal a juvenile record. Unlike a vacation, which changes the public record to show that the criminal charge was dismissed, the sealing of the record actually seals the court file so that no one may examine it and wipes the conviction from the public record. This is a legal mechanism that every eligible person with a juvenile conviction should utilize. There are a number of circumstances where you could lose your right to possess firearms. Situations that could lead to the loss of this right include conviction for a felony, conviction of certain misdemeanors when the charged crime has a domestic violence (DV) designation, being involuntarily committed to a hospital for mental health concerns and even, in certain situations, when a felony is dismissed after a deferred sentence. Each situation has its own varying levels of complexity. To find out about your particular situation, we advise you contact us as soon as possible. In cases where a person’s right to bear arms has been revoked due to a criminal conviction or after a felony was dismissed pursuant to a deferred sentence, you may be eligible to have your right to possess firearms restored depending on the nature of the conviction and the passage of time that has gone by since that conviction. Our firm has represented many people in this process, resulting in those clients regaining an important right that they had lost.. Do not hesitate to contact our office to schedule a free consultation or telephone conference to establish if you may be available to take advantage of one of the above statutory mechanisms that could help you put your past behind you.
We frequently represent individuals charged with driving offenses, such as driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or a drug, also described as a DUI, or DWI. It is important to note that when a person is charged with a DUI, he or she is being prosecuted by two different government entities. The first is the prosecutor in the jurisdiction in which he or she were charged. If convicted in court by a prosecutor in this venue then the person charged will have been convicted of a crime, a gross misdemeanor offense, and upon first conviction, carries a minimum sentence of 24 consecutive hours in jail, $940 minimum fine in addition to court costs, a 90 day suspension of driver’s license and a requirement for the person to install an ignition interlock device. The minimum mandatory penalties are higher if the BAC is .15 or higher, if there is a test refusal, or if there are prior DUI offenses. The second government entity that prosecutes a person charged with DUI is the Washington Department of Licensing. The Department of Licensing initiates license suspension proceedings independent of the criminal charge, and care must be taken to comply with the requirement of making a timely request with the DOL for a hearing to contest any such administrative license suspension or revocation sanctions. These two prosecutions are independent of each other. Our firm regularly defends our clients from both the allegations of the prosecutor and Department of Licensing while informing our clients and explaining a very complicated situation. We also represent people charged with other driving offenses such as reckless driving, the elements of which are driving any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for persons or property. This charge is also considered to be a serious traffic offense in the same category as DUI. Great care must be taken to ensure that these cases are defended to the fullest extent in order to avoid the substantial penalties, which include the suspension of a driver’s license. Other types of traffic offenses that we defend are charges such as hit and run attended, driving a vehicle while license suspended, negligent driving in the first degree and no valid operator’s license without identification. In addition, we provide representation on other cases that do not involve criminal offenses, but involve traffic infractions that can have significant financial consequences. A finding of committed on a traffic infraction can also result in higher insurance costs, the requirement to complete a traffic safety course or, in extreme circumstances, the suspension of your license to drive. Misdemeanor and Gross Misdemeanor charges are litigated in District Court and in various Municipal Courts, which are considered lower courts. Each county has its own District Court and many cities have their own Municipal Courts. The lower courts that we practice in include Cowlitz County District Court, Longview Municipal Court, Kelso Municipal Court, Kalama Municipal Court, Woodland Municipal Court, Castle Rock Municipal Court, Wahkiakum County District Court, located in Cathlamet, WA, Clark County District Court and Vancouver Municipal Court, located in Vancouver WA, Battle Ground Municipal Court, located in Battle Ground WA, and Lewis County District Court, located in Chehalis WA.
Many people incorrectly believe that domestic violence (DV) is a title to a crime. A domestic violence (DV) designation can be added to any crime where the alleged vitim is a person who fits the legal definition of a family or household member. For example, if you are alleged to have stolen money from a parent, the alleged crime charged might be Theft (DV). When individuals are charged with a crime involving an allegation of domestic violence, often listed as DV on a ticket or charging document, there can be additional penalties and consequences to the defendant. Although the DV designation can be added to any crime, it is most often associated with assault in the fourth degree. Consequences of a conviction with a DV designation can include a loss of a person’s constitutional right to bear arms, making a strong defense against any such charge a matter of crucial importance. It is important to be aware that with regard to assault charges in the State of Washington, the law provides that in the event that a person successfully defends against any such charge in court, and a jury finds that the defendant was acting in his or her self-defense or defense of others or of the defendant’s property, the defendant is entitled to reimbursement from the State of Washington for all expenses and costs incurred in the defense of that prosecution, which can include all attorney’s fees, lost wages, and any other cost incurred as a result of the need to defend against such a charge.
Drug Offenses: Drug offenses in the State of Washington are offenses that are a Violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances ACT (VUCSA) or a Violation of the Uniform Legends Drug ACT (VULDA). These violations can range from misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia to delivery of large amounts of heroin or methampetamine. If convicted, these offenses can carry as little as a day in jail or as much as twenty years in prison. Our firm has extensive practice in this area. We defend these cases, regularly securing dismissal of the charges based on challenges to the legality of searches and other police procedures.
We have experience in dealing with every category of felony charges in the State of Washington. In the State of Washington, felony charges are divided into three classifications. Class A Felonies have a maximum statutory penalty of life imprisonment, or death in aggravated murder charges, and a $50,000 fine. Class B Felonies have a maximum statutory penalty of ten (10) years in prison and a $20,000 fine. Class C Felonies have a maximum statutory penalty of five (5) years in prison and a $10,000 fine. In the State of Washington, gross misdemeanor offenses carry a sentence of 0-364 days in custody, and a maximum fine of $5,000, plus court costs, if there is a conviction. Simple misdemeanors have a sentencing range of 0-90 days in custody, and a maximum fine of $1,000, plus court costs, if there is a conviction. There are some exceptions to this rule, such as the gross misdemeanor of DUI, which would have a minimum mandatory penalty, even on a first offense, of one day in jail, and possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia, which charges carry a minimum mandatory one day in custody. We are experienced in representing defendants charged with all different types of gross misdemeanors and misdemeanor offenses in the State of Washington. Felony charges are litigated in Superior Court. Misdemeanor charges are primarily litigated in District or Municipal Court. Although we primarily practice in Cowlitz Superior and District Court, located in Kelso, WA, our firm has experience with defending crimes in other counties, including Wahkiakum County, located in Cathlamet, WA, Clark County, located in Vancouver WA, and Lewis County, located in Chehalis WA. Below you will find a non-exclusive list of the some of the types of cases that we have defended in the past: Murder: When a life ends, the charges can range from Murder 1 to Manslaughter 2 Assault: Assault, with a few exceptions, is an intentional act that is harmful or offensive to another person or causes apprehension of harm or offense. Acts that can constitute assault can range from a simple push or spitting on someone to shooting another person. Depending on the alleged action or the resulting harm, assault can range from assault in the first degree to assault in the fourth degree, which correspond to statutory rankings from a class “A” felony to a gross misdemeanor. It is important to be aware that with regard to assault charges in the State of Washington, the law provides that in the event that a person successfully defends against any such charge in court, and a jury finds that the defendant was acting in his or her self-defense or defense of others or of the defendant’s property, the defendant is entitled to reimbursement from the State of Washington for all expenses and costs incurred in the defense of that prosecution, which can include all attorney’s fees, lost wages, and any other cost incurred as a result of the need to defend against such a charge. Sex Offenses: Defending against allegations of a sexual crime is critically important due to both the stigma these offenses can place upon a person and the severe punishment that can result if convicted. If convicted of a sex offense a person can be subject, depending on the charge, to a possible life sentence, lifetime registration as a sex offender and lifetime probation by the Washington State Department of Corrections. If you are alleged to have committed a sex offense it is important to have a guide and advocate who can explain your defense to a jury and the possible ramifications of the offense to you. Drug Offenses: See the Drugs tab Driving under the Influence of Intoxicants: See DUI tab. Theft Offenses: Theft is mainly charged when a person is alleged to have wrongfully obtained or exerted unauthorized control over property of another with the intent to deprive the true owner of the property. These allegations can be as simple as an allegation of shoplifting and can be as complicated as an allegation that an employee stole money from a business over long periods of time.