Armstrong, Klym, Waite, Atwood & Jameson, P.S.
Practice
  • Adoption: This is a process where someone other than one's biological parent is made the person's legal parent. This is done in a court proceeding ending with a Decree of Adoption. In order for a minor to be adopted the biological parent(s) must consent to the adoption or the father/mother being replaced must have his/ her/their parental rights terminated by the court. If a child who is the subject of an adoption is 14 years of age or older, he/she must also consent in order for an adoption to be completed. The most common form of adoption is a step-parent adoption, most often occurring when a step-parent adopts his or her spouse’s biological child. Another common procedure is the adoption of a young child by a husband and wife or by domestic partners.


  • Bankruptcy Law: Bankruptcy is a legal proceeding in which a person, a couple, or a business can obtain relief from unmanageable debt.


    Chapter 7 is the most common form of bankruptcy. A Chapter 7 will discharge (get rid of) most unsecured debts. Many clients are able to keep their houses and cars. Exceptions to discharge include domestic support obligations, like child support or spousal maintenance (alimony), some taxes, court fines, and student loans.


    Chapter 13 is available for people who for some reason are ineligible for a Chapter 7. A Chapter 13 is sometimes called a wage-earner bankruptcy. You make a monthly payment to the Chapter 13 Trustee. The amount you pay depends on your circumstances and your ability to pay. The Chapter 13 Trustee then makes payments on your debts according to the bankruptcy law and a Plan that your attorney will prepare for you.

    A Chapter 13 Plan lasts from 36 to 60 months depending on your situation.


    Jan Armstrong has represented clients in bankruptcy since 1978. He has previously served on the Eastern Washington Bankruptcy Bar Association Board of Directors. He has served on the Eastern Washington Bankruptcy Standing Advisory Committee.

    Tom Atwood has represented clients in bankruptcy since 1994. He has served on the Eastern Washington Bankruptcy Bar Association, including as President and Secretary. He has served on the Eastern Washington Bankruptcy Standing Advisory Committee.

    Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Atwood have each successfully represented hundreds of clients. Call today to set up a free initial appointment. (509)943-4681

  • Civil Litigation: If an individual or a company has a claim against another person or company, the issue is often resolved by filing a lawsuit with the courts. A lawsuit is commenced by filing with the court a Summons and a Complaint detailing the claim. The Summons and Complaint must be served (delivered by an adult who is not a party) to the person or company against whom the claim is made.

  • Criminal Law: Criminal Law defines the conduct which is prohibited by the state and sets the punishment that is to be imposed to those who breach them. Criminal lawyers work with clients who have been accused of a criminal offense. These lawyers defend the rights of an accused and represent their client during the criminal process, including arrest, arraignment, grand juries, discovery, pretrial hearings, trials, and jury selection, evidence, motions, and post trial remedies.


    Our law firm endeavors to provide outstanding professional legal services at affordable fees. We are a firm with experienced trial lawyers.

    The information provided in this section is NOT intended to replace the advice of a licensed attorney! If you, or someone you know, requires legal assistance, we strongly recommend consultation with an attorney of your choosing.

    Our office does offer a free initial consultation in criminal cases.


    Criminal Case Process: A defendant may retain an attorney at any stage of his/her case, whether during the investigation or the night before the arraignment. A criminal defendant maintains the right to an attorney at all times and will be appointed one (Public Defender) if they cannot afford a private attorney.


    Difference Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor: The consequences for misdemeanors and felony convictions are entirely different. The defendant must understand what crime he/she has been charged with in order to understand what will happen if convicted.

    Generally, a misdemeanor crime is punishable by up to one year in a county jail along with any assessed fines and court costs. Misdemeanor trials are held in the state’s lower court, usually referred to as Municipal Court or District Court (such names may vary from state to state). Examples of misdemeanor crimes include: disorderly conduct, drunk driving, shoplifting, etc.

    A felony crime is punishable by one year or more in state prison penitentiary. Felonies may begin in the state’s lower court but may move up to the state’s Superior Court, or higher court (such as Federal Court). (Names for these courts may also vary from state to state.) Examples of felony crimes include murder, rape, armed robbery, etc.

    It is advisable that the defendants receive legal representation prior to an arraignment or preliminary hearing. A public defender may have little time to review the case prior to an arraignment, or may not even be assigned the case until arraignment. A private defense attorney can meet with the defendant prior to arraignment, review the case, and provide information to the defendant regarding the judicial process.


    Matters we Defend: The list that follows is not a comprehensive all-inclusive list (and the particular name of the charge varies from state to state), but this list is representative of the types of cases our firm handles. We encourage you to call us for additional information. (509)943-4681


    Drivers’ License Related Crimes:
    - DUI/DWI (Driving Under the Influence)
    - BUI (Boating Under the Influence)
    - DWLS/DWOP (Driving While License Suspended)
    - MIP (Minor in Possession)
    - Reckless Driving
    - Hit and Run
    - Negligent Driving
    - Inattentive Driving
    - Traffic Infractions

    Violent Crimes:
    - Armed Robbery
    - Arson
    - Assault & Battery
    - Carjacking
    - Child Abuse
    - Domestic Violence
    - Hate Crimes
    - Kidnapping
    - Manslaughter
    - Murder
    - Robbery
    - Vehicular Homicide
    - Vehicular Manslaughter

    “White Collar” Crimes:
    - Counterfeiting
    - Embezzlement
    - Extortion
    - Forgery
    - Fraud (various)
    - Internet Theft
    - Mail Fraud
    - Medicaid Fraud
    - Perjury
    - Prescription Fraud
    - Theft
    - Witness Tampering

    Sex Crimes:
    - Child Molestation
    - Child Pornography
    - Date Rape
    - Exploitation
    - Failure to Register
    - Indecent Exposure
    - Internet Pornography/Depictions
    - Lewd Conduct
    - Pandering
    - Prostitution
    - Rape
    - Sexual Assault
    - Sexual Battery
    - Sodomy
    - Solicitation
    - Spousal Rape
    - Statutory Rape

    Drug Crimes:
    - Cultivation
    - Distribution
    - Importation
    - Manufacturing
    - Possession
    - Trafficking
    - Transportation

    Other Crimes:
    - Aiding/Abetting
    - Burglary
    - Conspiracy
    - Hit and Run
    - Injury to a Child
    - Obstruction
    - Perjury
    - Stalking

    Appeals:
    - Change of Plea
    - Motion for a New Trial
    - Plea Withdrawl
    - Post-Conviction Appeals
    - Sentence Appeals
    - Sentence Modifications
    - Sentence Reversal
    - Writ of Habeas Corpus
    - Writ of Mandamus


    Retainers and Fees: Our firm recognizes that hiring an attorney can be a daunting task in many respects. That is the primary reason that one of our attorneys will meet with you for an initial free consultation prior to discussing specific terms of a Fee Agreement (usually a flat fee contract, although some cases may be an hourly fee arrangement). Our fees are determined ONLY by the attorney(s), and based upon the nature of the charge(s) and the anticipated complexity of the individual case. There may be additional expense for experts, i.e., polygrapher, investigator, accident reconstructionist, medical doctors, or other forensic experts as may be required for your individual case.

    If you have any questions about our fees or contract, you can discuss them with us at the time of the initial free consultation.

    We recognize that the expenses associated with the defense of a criminal matter can seem overwhelming. Although in most instances we require payment in full, prior to beginning representation and appearing in court on your behalf, you may qualify for a deferred payment option. Additionally, we accept VISA, Mastercard, or American Express for payment of attorney fees.

    Please contact us regarding your case as everyone has a unique financial situation. We are here to help you.


    Criminal Defense Attorney:
    - The defense attorney must ethically and actively defend his/her client.
    - The defense attorney must present all options to his client with recommendations and professional opinions.
    - The defense attorney must prepare his client for each step of the legal process.
    - The defense attorney must review all possible defense scenarios, identify all witnesses, and review evidence in support of the client’s case.
    - The defense attorney must compose a powerful defense strategy and a course of action to prove reasonable doubt or otherwise minimize the defendant’s exposure or punishments.

  • Divorce: final termination of a marital union and all the responsibilities and bonds that the union implies including:


    Divorce: Washington's law, the Revised Code of Washington, calls divorce a "Dissolution of Marriage." This is a court action that terminates or ends a marital relationship between husband and wife. In a dissolution of marriage, all of the property and debts of the parties are divided or allocated by the court. If there are children the court enters a parenting plan that allocates time with and responsibility for the parties' children. An Order of Child Support is entered requiring the non-residential parent to provide financial support for the residential (formerly called custodial) parent. The same procedures and forms are used to terminate a registered domestic partnership.


    Legal Separation: A legal separation is identical to a dissolution of marriage, except that at the entry of a Decree of Legal Separation (rather than a Decree of Dissolution), the parties are still technically married. Legal Separation is used most often when one of the parties needs to remain on the health insurance of the other or when the parties have a religious objection to dissolution (divorce.) [Not all insurance plans allow a legally separated spouse to remain on insurance as a spouse. Each policy should be reviewed on a case by case basis.] A Decree of Legal Separation divides all of the couple's property and debts. If there are children the court establishes a Parenting Plan or Residential Schedule and enters an Order of Child Support. After the passage of six (6) months from entry of a Decree of Legal Separation either party may file a motion with the court asking that the court convert the Decree of Legal Separation to a Decree of Dissolution. The court must grant the motion so long as the other party had proper notice of the hearing.


    Alimony: The Revised Code of Washington uses the term “Spousal Support” or “Spousal Maintenance” rather than alimony. The court may require one of the former spouses to pay temporary or permanent support to the other. Spousal support normally ends upon death of one of the parties or remarriage on the part of the party receiving support. Spousal support is based upon the need of one party for support and the ability of the other party to pay while caring for his or her own needs. The longer the marriage, the more likely it is that spousal support will be ordered so long as it is accompanied by need on the part of one and the ability to pay on the part of the other. The former spouse paying spousal maintenance is able to deduct the amount of those payments from his/her income for federal income tax purposes and the receiving spouse must report any spousal maintenance received as income for federal income tax purposes.


    Annulment: Declaration Concerning the Validity of a Marriage (or a Domestic Partnership.) This process In Washington, what many people call an annulment, is very rare. In order for such a result one needs to show that one or both of the parties was incapable of being married (or incapable of entering into a Domestic Partnership.) Examples of being incapable of entering into a marriage include: Mental incapacity, being too young to marry, or being still married to another.


    Parentage: This legal process was formerly called a Paternity action. Normally, the identity of the mother is a foregone conclusion or easily shown, but the father's identity may need to be proven. In many cases a father signs a document at the hospital entitled an "Acknowledgement of Paternity." If a man signs such a document and later learns that he is not the biological father, he must file a court action within two years of the signing of the Acknowledgement seeking a court order finding that he is not the father.


  • Elder Law: The law firm provides legal services related to estate planning (see Estate Planning) for elderly or potentially incapacitated persons and advice regarding the qualification of clients for Medicaid services.

  • Estate & Trust Planning: The law firm provides full legal services related to estate planning and trust planning. The practice includes the preparation of Wills, Durable Health Care Powers of Attorney, Durable Financial Powers of Attorney, Health Care Directives, Community Property Agreements and Living Trusts. The practice also includes the providing of client advice regarding lifetime gifting and the tax rules related to such gifting.


    Estates worth more than $5,000,000 are subject to the federal estate tax under current law. Estates worth more than $2,000,000 are subject to the Washington state estate tax under current law. The practice includes preparation of estate plans to maximize the dollar amount of estates that may be transferred to family members without imposition of federal and/or state estate taxes.


    The practice also includes the appropriate use of Living Trusts as an estate planning tool to avoid probate and advise to clients regarding the maintenance of Living Trusts.

  • Family Law: deals with family-related issues and domestic relations including the following:


    - Marriage
    - Registered Domestic Partnerships
    - Spousal Abuse
    - Parentage
    - Adoption
    - Surrogacy
    - Child Abuse
  • Guardianship: Guardianship law pertains to a process where by court order one person may be granted legal decision-making and authority to care for another person and/or their estate. Guardianships are used for people under the age of 18 years who may receive property from some source, such as an inheritance or accident settlement. Guardianships are used for adults who do not have the capacity to make personal decisions, such as health care decisions or appropriate residential decisions. Guardianships are also used for adults who do not have the capacity to handle their financial affairs. There is a statutory process requiring court approval to obtain guardianship over a person.


    The law firm provides full legal services related to guardianship proceedings, including representation of clients seeking guardianship over another person, clients interested in supporting or opposing the guardianship, and service as court appointed guardian ad-litem to protect the interests of the alleged incapacitated person.


  • Personal Injury: When a person is injured due to the fault of another, the injured person has a claim against the other party for the damage done to the injured person. This may involve loss or damage to property, lost wages both past and future, and past, present, and future pain and suffering. This type of claim is often called a Personal Injury claim. Personal injuries most often arise out of automobile accidents, but there are other kinds of personal injury actions.

  • Probate Law: Probate is a legal process that deals with the administration and distribution of a deceased person's property and payment of a deceased person's debts.


    The law firm provides full legal services regarding probate actions. The law firm represents personal representatives (the party named by the court to administer the estate) and estate beneficiaries.


  • Real Estate Law: Real estate law issues usually involve the purchase and sale of land. The transfer of ownership of land is normally by a Deed. The most common Deed is a Statutory Warranty Deed that contains promises that the one transferring the land guarantees the right of the buyer to possess the land as opposed to all others. The purchase of land often is accompanied by documents evidencing the financing of the purchase. The most common method involves the buyer signing a promissory note to a lending institution accompanied by a Deed of Trust or Mortgage. Sometimes the owner rather than a financial institution will finance the purchase by means of a Real Estate Contract. The buyer in a Real Estate Contract generally does not receive the deed to the land until the purchase price is paid in full.


    The most important document in any sale and purchase of real estate is the real estate purchase and sale agreement, often called an earnest money agreement. As the purchase of a home is often the largest single investment most people will make, a lawyer should be consulted prior to the signing of the real estate purchase and sale agreement. Once the agreement is signed, the terms of the agreement are final and may be modified only if both the seller and the buyer agree.


    A sale is finally concluded by an event called a "closing." In a closing the final documents are signed by the parties which documents are accepted and processed by a third party, the closing agent. Most closing agents act independently for the benefit of both parties and the financing institution, if any. In Washington most closings are done by title insurance companies or escrow companies.


    Another issue that often arises in real estate involves the right to use someone else's land for one's own purposes. The right to use another's land, usually for access by a driveway or access road from a public road to one's own property, ingress and egress, or for some other limited purpose is established by an Easement. Utility companies or municipalities often have or acquire the right by easement to pass their electrical, water, gas, cable or sewer lines over or under a private party's land.


  • Social Security Disability: Social Security Disability Law is the legal aspect surrounding the program that provides income to people who are unable to work because of disability.


    A claimant may apply for social security benefits at his or her local social security office or on line. The local office is located at 8131 W. Klamath Ct. Suite A, Kennewick, Washington, and is open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, except federal holidays. You may apply on line at www.socialsecurity.gov.


    If your benefits are denied, you have the right to appeal. You have 60 days to request an appeal. The 60 days start the day after you receive the denial letter. It is assumed that you will receive the denial letter 5 days after the date on it unless you show that you did not receive it within the 5- day period. You have to ask for an appeal in writing and will have to complete a form SSA-561-U2, called "Request for Reconsideration".


    If your Request for Reconsideration is denied, you have 60 days to request a hearing. It is assumed that you will receive the denial letter 5 days after the date on it unless you show that you did not receive it within the 5-day period. You will have to complete a form HA-501-U5, called "Request for Hearing by Administrative Law Judge".


    Generally, a claimant does not need an attorney’s help to file the initial request for benefits. However, when you receive your first denial, and certainly after you receive your second denial, it is a good time to discuss your case with an attorney. At our office, this is accomplished by calling (509) 943-4681 and asking for the legal assistant assigned to Social Security cases. The assistant will take some initial information from you, and if she thinks we are able to assist you with your claim, she will schedule an appointment with Ms. Waite at our office. There is no charge for this consultation.


    The fees an attorney may charge for his or her representation of a social security claimant is regulated by federal law. A fee agreement will be sent to you with a letter confirming your appointment. The latest statistics from NOSSCR (National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives) compiled in 2006 indicate that the percentage of favorable decisions at the hearing level for those claimants represented by an attorney was 67.4% compared to 51.7% for those claimants without an attorney.