First & Second-Degree Murder: Legal Insights and Mental Health Defense

First & Second-Degree Murder: Legal Insights and Mental Health Defense

At 3:30 a.m. on July 4th 20230, in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, witnesses saw an individual chasing another person with a knife and stabbing him several times until he collapsed. The stabbing continued despite the victim’s pleas that he didn’t know the perpetrator. The attacker was pepper-sprayed by a witness, who caused him to stop and run. Another witness pursued the perpetrator, striking him with a rock and assisting authorities in identifying and arresting him, who was charged with Murder in the First Degree. Fontaine Jackson, the victim, tragically died at the site. According to the perpetrator, he resumed stabbing the victim in order to “end his suffering.”

How is Murder Defined?

In the state of Washington, murder is characterized as the intentional and unlawful killing of another person with two different degrees of murder based on the circumstances surrounding the act. Both first-degree and second-degree murder are considered serious offenses and carry significant legal consequences upon conviction, including lengthy prison sentences or even life imprisonment.

Murder in the 1st Degree: Murder in the First Degree is defined by premeditation, deliberation, and intent to cause the death of another person. It can carry fines of 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 consists of killing another person with the intent to cause death without premeditation. This offense is a Class A Felony with the same potential penalties as Murder in the First Degree.

It is crucial to consider the potential presence of mental health issues in the perpetrator’s case. The act of chasing and fatally stabbing a stranger suggests a deeply disturbed state of mind. The perpetrator’s alleged response to the victim’s pleas, coupled with his statement about wanting to “end his suffering,” may indicate a distorted perception of reality or an inability to control his actions.

Exploring the possibility of underlying mental health issues could shed light on factors such as diminished capacity, impaired judgment, or the presence of any mitigating circumstances. The Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer believes it is essential to thoroughly investigate an alleged offender’s mental state and gather expert testimony to present a comprehensive defense strategy that takes into account the impact of these potential mental health issues.

Potential Defenses

In the incident mentioned above, an insanity defense could be utilized. The violent and seemingly unprovoked nature of the attack, combined with the victim’s pleas for mercy being ignored, could support the claim that the perpetrator was detached from reality or experiencing a severe mental disturbance. To establish the insanity defense, expert psychiatric evaluations and evidence demonstrating the defendant’s disturbed mental state at the time of the crime must be presented. The court would evaluate whether the defendant meets the legal criteria for insanity, which can vary depending on the jurisdiction. If successful, an insanity plea could potentially result in a different legal outcome, such as a finding of not guilty by reason of insanity or a reduced sentence.

How We Can Help

As legal practitioners, the Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer aims to understand the nuances of first and second-degree murder to effectively represent clients and navigate the complex criminal justice system. By grasping the elements and consequences associated with these degrees of murder, attorneys can provide sound advice, build strong defense strategies, and advocate for their clients’ rights within the bounds of the law.

Call the Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer today at (360) 334-6277 to schedule a free consultation with one of our skillful attorneys.

Defense Attorneys: Upholding Justice and Rights

Defense Attorneys: Upholding Justice and Rights

The criminal justice system plays a crucial role in maintaining law and order within society by ensuring individuals who violate the law are held accountable for their actions. However, in the pursuit of justice, it is essential to recognize the significance of defense attorneys in the legal process. These individuals are instrumental in upholding the principles of fairness, protecting the rights of the accused, and ensuring that the criminal justice system operates justly. Our team of attorneys at the Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer are highly skilled and experienced, fighting to ensure fair trial for their clients.

Presumption of Innocence and Due Process

One of the fundamental rights granted by the U.S. constitution upon which the criminal justice system is built is the presumption of innocence. This principle establishes that an individual accused of a crime is considered innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Defense attorneys are the guardians of this principle. They ensure that their clients are afforded the full protection of the law and that their rights are respected throughout the legal process.

Defense attorneys diligently investigate cases, examine evidence, and challenge the prosecution’s argument to guarantee that due process is followed. They ensure that law enforcement agencies adhere to proper procedures, preventing any violation of their client’s rights. By demanding a fair and impartial trial, defense attorneys provide the accused with an opportunity to present their side of the story and confront the evidence against them. Without them, the scales of justice would tip imbalanced, undermining the integrity of the entire criminal justice system.

Checks and Balances

Defense attorneys serve as essential checks and balances within the criminal justice system. Their primary objective is to scrutinize the evidence presented by the prosecution, ensuring that it is obtained legally and is admissible in court. They challenge the credibility and reliability of witnesses, expose inconsistencies, and identify flaws in the case against their clients. This rigorous examination helps prevent wrongful convictions and protects innocent individuals from being wrongfully punished.

They also act as a counterbalance to the power of the prosecution. By questioning the evidence and raising valid defenses, they force the prosecution to meet a high standard of proof, thereby reducing the risk of wrongful convictions. They hold the prosecution accountable for their actions, ensuring that every element of the crime is proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Through their relentless advocacy, defense attorneys strive to ensure that no innocent person is wrongfully convicted.

Safeguarding Constitutional Rights

Defense attorneys play a critical role in safeguarding the constitutional rights of the accused. The United States Constitution grants individuals several essential rights, such as the right to a fair trial, the right to remain silent, the right to confront witnesses, and the right to legal counsel. Defense attorneys ensure that these rights are upheld and protected throughout the legal process.

Defense attorneys skillfully navigate the complexities of the law, ensuring that their clients’ constitutional rights are not violated. They provide guidance to their clients, helping them understand their rights and advising them on the best course of action. By advocating for their clients, defense attorneys help level the playing field between the accused and the formidable resources of the prosecution.

Beyond the Courtroom

The role of defense attorneys extends beyond the confines of the courtroom. They act as a support system for their clients, offering guidance and reassurance during what can be an incredibly stressful and overwhelming time. Defense attorneys work diligently to ensure that their clients’ voices are heard, whether in negotiations for a plea deal or during trial proceedings.

Additionally, defense attorneys are advocates for necessary reforms within the criminal justice system. They shed light on systemic issues such as the over-reliance on plea bargains and the need for improved access to justice for all individuals, regardless of their socioeconomic status. By working towards a more just and equitable criminal justice system, defense attorneys contribute to the ongoing efforts to create meaningful change and ensure that justice is truly served.

How We Can Help

Defense attorneys are essential pillars of the criminal justice system. They embody the principles of fairness, due process, and the presumption of innocence by diligently advocating for their clients’ rights, challenging the prosecution’s case, and safeguarding constitutional rights, defense attorneys ensure that the scales of justice remain balanced. The Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer is here to fight for your future and freedom by defending you to the fullest extent of the law.

Call the Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer today at (360) 334-6277 to schedule a free and confidential consultation with one of our quality attorneys.

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.

Consequences of a Criminal Conviction

Criminal Charges in Washington

Criminal Charges in Washington

Facing criminal charges can be incredibly distressing and a conviction could have a profound impact on your freedom, reputation, and future. The importance of seeking expert legal representation, like the services provided by the Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer, to navigate the complex legal landscape has never been higher. As a Criminal Charges Defense Attorney in Washington, our team is here to help and defend you in a court of law with our years of experience. We have established strong defenses for thousands of clients and we always aiming for the best possible results.


When charged with a crime in Washington, the most immediate concern is the potential loss of liberty through incarceration. Sentences may range from shorter stays in jail (under a year), to longer periods of time in state prison (over a year) depending on the severity of the crime. Additionally, fines and fees incurred as part of the sentence may come to be a substantial financial burden that only adds to the overall severity of the penalties. The state of Washington outlines what certain penalties certain convictions may carry by classifying crimes according to their severity.

Class A Felony: This charge can carry up to $50,000.00 in fines and up to life in prison.

Class B Felony: This charge can carry up to $20,000.00 in fines and up to 10 years in prison.

Class C Felony: This charge can carry up to $10,000.00 in fines and up to 5 years in prison.

Gross Misdemeanor: This charge can carry up to $5,000.00 in fines and up to 364 days in jail.

Misdemeanor: This charge can carry up to $1,000.00 in fines and up to 90 days in jail.

Collateral Consequences

Beyond the immediate loss of freedom, criminal charges in Washington can lead to a range of collateral consequences that significantly impact an individual’s future. These consequences can include:

Criminal Record: A conviction results in a permanent criminal record, which can have serious repercussions when seeking future employment, housing, or educational opportunities. Prospective employers, landlords, and academic institutions may conduct background checks, making it challenging to secure desired opportunities.

Gun Ownership Rights: Certain convictions in Washington can result in the loss of the right to possess firearms. These restrictions can persist even after completing a sentence, requiring legal intervention to seek restoration of rights. If you would like more information check out our FAR page.

Immigration Consequences: Non-U.S. citizens facing criminal charges may face severe immigration consequences, including deportation, denial of future visa applications and green card renewal. It is crucial for non-U.S. citizens to seek legal advice from an immigration attorney well-versed in criminal law to understand the potential immigration ramifications.

Social Stigma: Criminal charges, even if not resulting in a conviction, can inflict substantial damage to one’s reputation. The mere association with criminal allegations can lead to social stigma and strain personal relationships. Skilled criminal defense attorneys understand the importance of preserving their clients’ reputation and work diligently to protect their interests.

How Can an Attorney Help?

Given the severe consequences of a criminal record in Washington, seeking the guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney is crucial. An experienced defense attorney possesses a deep understanding of Washington’s legal system, including the nuances of the law, local court procedures, and precedents that can influence the outcome of a case. They can provide sound legal advice and build a strong defense strategy tailored to the specific circumstances of the case. They safeguard against unlawful searches and seizures, ensure fair treatment, and advocate for positive outcomes.

Defense attorneys also possess the negotiation skills and legal acumen required to engage with prosecutors and other parties involved in the case. Their advocacy ensures that their clients’ voices are heard and their interests are protected throughout the legal proceedings. They explain the legal implications, help manage expectations, and ensure that their clients have a clear understanding of the situation and available options. The attorneys at the Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer will guide you every step of the way with quality service, quality representation, and a quality defense. Trust our attorneys to keep the protection and your freedom in mind while defending you to the fullest extent of the law.

Find out how we may be able to assist you in protecting your freedom, future, and your rights by calling the Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer at (360) 334-6813. Don’t wait, schedule your free consultation today.

Search and Seizure: Know Your Rights

Search and Seizure Laws in Washington

Search and Seizure Laws in Washington

The Fourth Amendment acts as a safeguard to protect your right against unreasonable search and seizures conducted by law enforcement. This fundamental protection plays a critical role in criminal defense cases, ensuring that evidence obtained unlawfully cannot be used against the accused. In the state of Washington, the Fourth Amendment holds particular significance, as the state upholds its own interpretation and implementation of search and seizure laws. Understanding your rights under the Fourth Amendment and Search and Seizure Laws in Washington is crucial to protecting yourself from unlawful search and seizure. If you feel that your Fourth Amendment rights are being violated, retaining an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer is an imperative decision as they will help you navigate these types of situations due to their complexity. The Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer has a team of attorneys that have both the knowledge and experience to help protect your rights and defend you against any charges you may face due your rights being violated.

Probable Cause and Warrants

The Fourth Amendment states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” In Washington, as in the rest of the United States, this constitutional provision ensures that individuals are protected from arbitrary invasions of privacy by the government.

To safeguard this right, law enforcement officers in Washington, like their counterparts across the nation, must demonstrate probable cause before conducting a search or seizure. Probable cause refers to the reasonable belief that a crime has been committed due to evidence that a law enforcement officer has observed or gathered. The evidence obtained is then used to request a search warrant, and is presented to a judge who will examine the evidence and determine whether or not the evidence presented establishes probable cause.

Exigent Circumstances: An exception to the rule of probable cause is known as “exigent circumstances.” An example of this exception is if a reasonable suspicion that waiting for a warrant would lead to the loss of evidence or endanger lives. If an exigent circumstance arises, the officer will then have the right to conduct a search without a warrant.

Reasonable Expectation of Privacy: The Fourth Amendment protects individuals’ reasonable expectation of privacy, both in their physical surroundings and in their personal property. In Washington, the courts have recognized that individuals have a heightened expectation of privacy in their homes. Therefore, searches of a person’s home generally require a warrant unless there is a recognized exception. In the state of Washington, the courts define the Fourth Amendment as being upheld in places where one would reasonably expect privacy such as home, private property, or a vehicle. Spaces where privacy would be expected require a warrant to be searched. Observations and searches may be conducted by an officer without a warrant in public places.

Plain View Rule: An officer may seize any contraband or evidence without a warrant if it is in plain view or is discovered inadvertently. If an officer is in your house and he finds evidence of another crime being committed, he can seize that evidence even though it wasn’t part of the original warrant.

Suppression of Illegally Obtained Evidence

When evidence is obtained in violation of an individual’s Fourth Amendment rights, it may be deemed “fruit of the poisonous tree,” making it inadmissible to the court. This principle, known as the exclusionary rule, acts as a deterrent against unlawful searches and seizures. If evidence is suppressed, it cannot be used against the accused during trial.

In Washington, the exclusionary rule plays a crucial role in criminal defense cases. If it is determined that the evidence was obtained through an unlawful search or seizure, defense attorneys can file a motion to suppress the evidence. The state must then prove to the court that the evidence was obtained through a warrant or justified through an exception such as exigent circumstances. If the court grants the motion and suppresses the evidence, it cannot be used against the accused during trial, significantly weakening the prosecution’s case.

How Can We Help You?

If you believe that your Fourth Amendment rights have been violated, hiring a lawyer is an important step to take in order to protect your rights, freedom, and future. The Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer has a number of lawyers that are ready to work with you, and help you navigate situations such as these. Additionally, if the unlawful search leads to you being charged, our attorney will assist you in a court of law as well.

Don’t hesitate, call the Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer at (360) 334-6277 today to obtain your free consultation