The Champion

August 2007 , Page 26 

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Probable Cause and Fiction 101: The Silverado Gunfight

By Mike Jordan

The first thing most criminal defense lawyers do in the state of Washington when they review a new case — if they have not spoken to the client — is to read the charging document and the probable cause (“PC”) declaration filed by the prosecutor. The charging document speaks for itself and tells the number and seriousness of the charges. The PC statement gives you an overview of the facts that, supposedly, justify the charges.

In the state of Washington, the PC statement is generally required at the arraignment though probable cause can be established by other methods. Hence, defense counsel usually gives the PC statement some merit, accepting it as basically true if not accurate. Obviously, from the defense attorney’s perspective, eyeing the PC statement and the supporting reports with at least a little skepticism is helpful and often necessary. But it is now a rule in my office, due to an officer involved shooting case, that PC statements are to be thrown

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