Ryan Witt

Ryan Witt

Schools may conduct random drug testing on your student athlete.

The Fourth Amendment of the Washington State and United States Constitutions do not prohibit random drug testing of student athletes.

Parents of athletes who attend public schools often feel that random drug testing of their children is intrusive and violates the State and Federal Constitutions. This is not the case, at least as interpreted by the Courts. The United States Supreme Court and the Washington Supreme Court have allowed suspicionless searches under certain circumstances. They have found that random testing of student athletes fits these certain circumstances. To get around the requirement for a warrant, the Courts have applied the "special needs" exception to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement. This exception allows the government (or the school) to conduct a warrantless, suspicionless search focused on a certain class of individuals (athletes) if "special needs, beyond the normal need for law enforcement, make the warrant and probable cause requirement impracticable."

The Courts agree - the school may drug test your student athlete

It sounds like a bad deal, but that is the way the Courts have ruled. By participating in sports in a public school, an athlete and their parents must understand that school administrators can ask for a drug test even when there is no suspicion of any wrong doing. If your child chooses to play sports, understand that they will need to jump through hoops not imposed on the other students.

At the Witt Law Group, our attorneys have been handling search and seizure type criminal defense cases for over a decade. If you have questions about random drug testing of your athlete, call our Bremerton or Gig Harbor office. We can be reached after hours and on weekends. Best of luck in the new school year!

In Washington State, students have a right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures and invasions of privacy.

Despite the many rights bestowed upon us through the U.S. and Washington State Constitution, most children walk the hallways of their school and have no understanding of what is acceptable as far as a search of their person or belongings. As a back to school lesson, parents should alert their students that they do in fact have constitutionally protected rights while at school. The most frequently trampled right of the Washington student is the right preventing unreasonable searches and seizures.

A student has the right to object to an unreasonable search and seizure

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the Washington Constitution protect people from unreasonable searches and seizures and invasions of privacy. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that school authorities may conduct a warrantless search of a student without probable cause if the search is reasonable under all the circumstances. A search is reasonable if it is (1) justified at its inception and (2) reasonably related in scope to the circumstances that justified the interference in the first place.

* A search is justified at its inception only when there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that the search will turn up evidence that the student has violated or is violating either the law or the rule of a school.

* To determine if the search was reasonably related in scope, Washington Courts have determined the following factors: (1) the child's age, (2) history, (3) school record, (4) prevalence or seriousness of the problem in the school to which the search was directed, (5) the need to make the search quickly or without delay, and (6) the probative value and reliability of the information used as a justification for the search.

For an example, Hypothetical Jr. High has a problem with cigarettes at their school. Hypothetical Jr. High also has a policy that students can not go to the neighboring 7-11 during lunch. Joe Cool goes to the 7-11 for his lunch and, when he returns, he is searched by school administrators. Clearly, Cool has violated a school policy. However, his act of going to 7-11 does not provide a reasonable basis for suspecting that a search would reveal that Cool has committed some offense, like bringing cigarettes to school. There must be a nexus between the item sought and the infraction under investigation. The administrators would need to be able to show evidence of a correlation between the violation of the "No 7-11" policy and a likelihood that Cool is bringing contraband (cigarettes) onto the school property. By violating a school rule (going to 7-11), a student does not necessarily draw individualized suspicion upon himself. Without a nexus, the search is bad. In this example, the search of Cool is unlawful under the U.S. Constitution and the Washington State Constitution.

There is a remedy if your child is subject to an unreasonable search

The take away is that, in the right situation, students can refuse a search. If the administrators search a student anyway, the student can challenge the search if the search produced evidence of a crime.

When confronted with this situation, students should demand to speak with their parents and speak with an attorney. The times have changed and the results of a search at school can change the options of your child's future. We are in an age where behaviors that once needed a school principal's attention or parent discipline are now worthy of a criminal charge. Be sure to have a discussion with your child about the risks of violating school rules and what to do if they or their belongings are being searched at school.

At the Witt Law Group, we have been handling Fourth Amendment type cases for over a decade. We handle cases all over western Washington and would be happy to answer any questions you have on this topic. We have offices in Gig Harbor and Bremerton Washington for your convenience.  We wish you and your children the best in the coming school year!

 

In Kitsap County District Court, often people accused of DUI or other crimes hear the term Pre-Trial Diversion Agreement, or PDA. Many people call to ask us “what is a PDA? and, is it a good deal?” I will answer that in two parts.

1. What is a PDA?

A PDA is a contract that a defendant, in some situations, can enter into with the State attorney. It is an agreement to “be good” for typically two years and abide by some negotiated conditions. The conditions typically are pay a probation assessment of about $400, pay restitution to the law enforcement agency, obtain a chemical dependency evaluation (and follow through) and finally, complete a defensive driving class. The “be good’ that I referenced means commit no new crimes for the duration of the agreement.

If these conditions are met during the agreed upon time period, typically the charge of DUI is reduced down to the lesser charge of Negligent Driving in the First Degree. This will come with zero days in jail and a nominal fine.

Again, not everyone qualifies for such a contract, but if you are accused of a DUI, you should always find out if such a deal can be offered. Issues that preclude the State attorney from offering this contract include, but are not limited to – priors, refusing the breath test, or a high blow.

2. Is it a good deal?

That is hard to say. In most circumstances, yes. In other circumstances it is not a good deal. For example, if a defendant has a great suppression issue, then that defendant may need his attorney to push for an outright dismissal of the case. It is absolutely a case by case call. There are a vast number of defenses that can be present that only a DUI Defense attorney could recognize.

What should I do if I am accused of DUI or any crime in District or Municipal Court?

You need to contact a well-respected defense attorney right away. There are some defenses that are time sensitive. A PDA may be a good deal, and it may not. It all comes down to the facts of your individual case. The attorneys at Witt Law Group have been defending DUI and criminal defense cases in Western Washington for more than 17 years. We handle DUI cases in Kitsap, Pierce and Thurston Counties and all the municipalities therein. Call our offices Bremerton, Poulsbo or Gig Harbor for a free, private consultation.

 ↓ For more info, watch our video ↓

July 14, 2018

Summer Fun!

Thank you for being a valued Client!  If any one of these items is of interest to you, give our office a call!

 

Tacoma Rainiers v. Salt Lake Bees Baseball Ticket (Friday, July 20th @7:05 Cheney Stadium, includes food from concession stand)

AllStar Lanes Fun Cards (each is $10.00)

Chuck E. Cheese Gift Cards (each is $5.00)

Bremerton Ice Center Public Session + Skate Rental

Quarter's Arcade Gift Cards (each is $5.00)

Performance Golf Center (Gig Harbor) 18 Holes Miniature Golf

 

We will try to keep this list up to date. If you see anything that you like, give us a call at (360) 792-1000.  Again, thank you for being a client!