103 E. Holly, Suite 512 Bellingham, WA 98225
103 E. Holly, Suite 512 Bellingham, WA 98225

Criminal Defense

For most clients and their families, being accused of a crime is a new and stressful experience. Butler Beschen Law, PLLC has been providing legal services to the Bellingham and Whatcom County area in Criminal Defense for over 20 years.  Our office strives to provide clients with a relationship that is informative, engaging, and representation that is handled fully, competently, and efficiently.  We want you to be assured that your case will be handled with your utmost best interest in mind and that you will be in good hands from the moment you step into our office.

Butler Beschen Law, PLLC serves clients in need of criminal defense lawyers throughout Washington, including Bellingham, Ferndale, Lynden, Custer, Blaine, Granite Falls, Mukilteo, Lynnwood, Edmonds, Stanwood, Arlington, Burlington, Sedro Woolley, Lake Stevens, Mt. Vernon, Whidbey Island, Oak Harbor, Coupeville, Freeland, Camano Island, Snohomish County, Island County, King County, Whatcom County and Skagit County.  As Bellingham criminal defense lawyers we take cases in: Federal Court Western District (Seattle); Federal Court Eastern District (Spokane); Whatcom County Superior Court; Whatcom County District Court and all Whatcom County Municipal Courts.

Things to Know When Looking for a Criminal Defense Attorney

Fee agreements: Criminal representation can be expensive. Most attorneys set a fee based on experience handling similar cases in the past and based on the projected number of hours anticipated to resolve the case.  It is important to get the fee agreement in writing.  Washington State does not permit criminal defense attorneys to be paid on a contingent basis and most firms will want the fee paid up front.

Criminal procedure: In general, criminal cases follow a standard routine following the arrest. Once the case has been brought, there will be an arraignment.   This is the time for the client to enter a plea of not guilty.  If the client is in custody (jail), a bail hearing will be held to establish the terms and conditions for release pre-trial.  A trial date is then assigned, usually for a date a few months following the arrest, and the discovery process begins.  Discovery is the period of time when the State turns over to the defense (the client’s attorney) all the evidence and information it plans on using in trial against the accused. This is the time the defense attorney will secure witnesses, review the evidence and possibly bring pre-trial motions to suppress some evidence or statements or dismiss the case, etc.  Plea Bargaining can also take place during this discovery phase.  Plea Bargaining is a necessary and very important function that the defense attorney performs for the client. Plea bargaining can change either the charges or the sentencing recommendations–including treatment, jail alternatives or community service in lieu of jail time.  The final stage is either the entry of a plea bargain or going to trial. Often, a continuance (an order which resets the original trial date to a later date) will be sought to allow more time for trial preparation or plea bargaining to resolve the case.


Federal case: A federal case is nothing more than a charge that is brought in federal court. Even traffic tickets can be federal cases if the offense was committed on federal property such as military bases. Most common for Whatcom County would be a drug bust at the border that is charged in Federal Court.

Felony: A felony, in simple terms, is a crime the legislature has determined carries a sentence of more than one year in prison.  Felonies are classed generally in three categories, “A,” “B” & “C,” with “A felonies” being the most serious and carrying the highest level of punishment, including life in prison.  Felonies will only be handled in Superior Court.

Misdemeanors: A misdemeanor, in simple terms, is a crime punishable by one year or less in jail. Misdemeanors can be handled by municipal courts or District Court.  Common misdemeanors include Domestic Violence and driving offenses such as drunk driving. Many misdemeanor offenses carry with them penalties that exceed those of felonies when auto licensing considerations, automatic restraining orders and gun restrictions are taken into account.



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The following information is needed when calling a law office for a criminal defense attorney:

  • Name and date of birth of the accused
  • Date of arrest
  • Ticket or case number
  • Which court has been assigned (District, Municipal, or Superior Court)
  • Next court date
Butler Beschen Law, PLLC
103 E. Holly, Suite 512 (map it)
Bellingham, WA 98225
(360) 734-3448
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