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Shortly after Zach completed law school in 1997 he joined the Criminal Division of the King County Prosecutor’s Office and, after a short stint prosecuting misdemeanors, began trying felony cases. After only three years in the office Zach was chosen to join the Special Assault Unit (SAU) where he spent years focusing exclusively on sexual assault and child abuse cases. During his time in SAU he handled hundreds of cases and tried dozens including Rape, Child Molest, Assault of a Child, and Infant Homicide. In 2007 Zach was promoted to the Vice Chair position of the unit where he supervised a team of trial deputies and negotiated all sexual assault and child abuse cases filed into the Seattle Division of King County Superior Court.
For several years Zach was also assigned to work directly with law enforcement agencies helping to advise and oversee their investigation of sex offenses committed over the internet. His duties included advising law enforcement on the law, helping to draft, review, and approve search warrants, observing internet “sting” operations in order to advise and help build strong cases, and charging, negotiating, and prosecuting cases once an investigation was complete.
In addition to his time working on sexual assault and child abuse cases Zach spent years dedicated to exclusively trying and handling Domestic Violence cases. Because of his experience handling sexual assault and violent offenses he was generally assigned the most serious DV offenses including Assault, Strangulation, Rape, and Murder.
When Zach wasn't prosecuting Sexual Assault or Domestic Violence offenses he focused on trying violent crimes including Assault, Robbery, Burglary, Firearm, and Murder charges. Through trying and handling these cases he became familiar with every type of forensic evidence including DNA, ballistics and tool marks, fingerprints, dog tracking, controlled substances, gunshot residue and bullet projection, blood spatter, tire track comparison, and medical evidence. As a result Zach developed a profound understanding of the science behind these areas of expertise and the strengths and weaknesses of each type of forensic evidence.
Zach also spent years in a federal grant position in which he handled and oversaw the prosecution of all firearm crimes charged in South King County. In this position he tried dozens of offenses involving firearms and other deadly weapons and worked with the United States Attorney's Office to help determine which firearm cases should be tried locally and which ones would have better results in federal court.
Zach's years as a prosecutor have been invaluable in preparing him to defend those charged with a crime. As a defense attorney he draws on the experience he gained through the thousands of criminal cases he prosecuted and the hundreds of cases that he tried. It is that wealth of knowledge that allows him to find and exploit complex legal and factual issues and determine how best to negotiate and try every type of criminal charge.
State of Washington v. Jarred Ha (2016): Jarred Ha was a 22-year old economics student at the University of Washington when, after an altercation at an off-campus party, he was chased down by a 240 lb. body builder who began to beat him mercilessly. In desperation, Jarred pulled out a knife and used it to stop by the assault. In the process, Jarred inflicted serious wounds on his assailant. Because he used a knife to defend himself Jarred was charged with Assault in the First Degree and faced a prison sentence of 10-12 years. He was also summarily suspended from the University of Washington due to the incident.
Along with co-counsel, Michelle Scudder (www.scudderlawfirm.com), Zach successfully defended Jarred during a two-week trial after which a jury found him not guilty of all charges and entered a special verdict finding that he acted lawfully in defending himself. As a result of the special verdict the judge ordered the State to reimburse Jarred for all of his attorney’s fees and the University of Washington dropped the suspension allowing him to return to school. (See Jarred’s AVVO Review Here)
See links to the News Coverage:
WATCH THE VIDEO: UW Student Acquitted of First Degree Assault, State Must Pay Legal Fees
UW Student Cleared by Jury (Seattle Times)
Judge Orders State to Reimburse Defendant (Seattle Times)
UW Student Cleared and Ordered to be Reimbursed by State (Q13 News)
UW Student Acquitted of Assault (Kiro 7)
State v. L.G. (2015): In 2014 L.G. was accused by his then-stepdaughter of sexually abusing her over the course of several years. The allegations cost L.G. his marriage, his employment, and most of his personal possessions. Eventually he was charged by the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office with eight counts of child molestation and rape of a child. Facing the very real possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison but knowing he had not done what he was accused of, L.G. set his case for trial.
Along with co-counsel, Michelle Scudder (www.scudderlawfirm.com), Zach successfully defended L.G. against the false allegations. After a three week trial the jury found him not guilty of all eight counts and L.G. was finally free to pick up the pieces of his life. He has now moved out of the state and regained employment. (See L.G.’s AVVO Review Here)
After spending the first 12 years of his legal career as a prosecutor, Zach Wagnild opened his own practice in order to provide outstanding support and legal advocacy to those who are facing criminal charges. He purposefully keeps a low caseload so that he can give each case his personal attention, and so he has sufficient time to meet with clients, discuss their options, and approach their case in the manner that is the most beneficial to them and their needs.