Criminal Cases

At Hawk Sing & Ignacio, we focus on defending people accused of crimes. We are a team oriented firm focused on representing individuals. We do not represent corporations or the government.

Peace of Mind

Our goal is to effectively advocate for the people who come to us for help. Our expert legal guidance, meticulous preparation, vigorous advocacy, and a complete familiarity with the criminal courts helps to put our clients' minds at ease.

65 Years of Experience

Jeff Hawk, Rick Sing, and Ben Ignacio bring a combined 65 years of experience and thousands of hours of courtroom work by the time we get to your case. We are confident that you will be pleased with our representation".

Firm News

HPD Targets Massage Parlors and Escorts in Sex Assault Stings to Curb Prostitution


Recent arrests in April 2015 suggest that, as prostitution defense evolves, so does the prosecution of prostitution offenses.  However, the newest strategy by HPD seems to be more of the same.  In fact, close scrutiny of the HPD approach leads us to conclude that, rather than “more of the same”, it really is “LESS of the same.”  Here’s why.

In arresting a large number of alleged providers from several massage parlors in Honolulu, it is clear that HPD is putting a priority on prosecuting prostitution offenses.  However, instead of charging those persons arrested as prostitution providers they evidently have been charged with the offense of Sex Assault in the 4th degree.  Sex Assault in the 4th Degree prosecutes nonconsensual sexual contact.  Since the arrests are recent, we have not had an opportunity to review arrest reports yet, but presumably undercover officers are posing as prostitution customers and entering massage parlors to be subjected to sexual contact.  This tactic presumably relieves prosecutors in Honolulu from having to prove an agreement was reached to exchange sex for money, which is the definition of prostitution in the State of Hawaii.  Instead, an undercover officer will simply testify that he was subjected to sexual contact by a defendant provider.

This tactic may be related to the recent public debate in Honolulu wherein HPD argued in favor of allowing their undercover officers to engage in full sexual intercourse with unsuspecting prostitution suspects in order to effect prostitution arrests.

The disconnect with the law, however, is that such sexual contact seems intuitively consensual between the undercover officer and his target provider, and therefore, not sexual assault.  Imagine the cross examination of that same undercover officer, the alleged victim of sexual contact.  That undercover officer would have to admit on cross examination that he was acting on orders, and that his orders were to receive sexual contact.  The undercover officer obviously entered the establishment of the massage parlor for the purpose of receiving sexual contact.  The lack of consent is a major missing piece of the puzzle here, and predictably, should result in many NOT GUILTY verdicts for people arrested as providers or prostitutes at massage parlors.

Another matter to consider is the potential consequences of such an arrest.  The different charge means a significant increase in potential punishment to someone being prosecuted in this scheme.  While prostitution is a petty misdemeanor punishable by 30 days in jail and a $1000.00 fine, sex assault in the 4th degree is a full misdemeanor punishable by one year in jail and a $ 2,000.00 fine.

If you or someone you know has recently been arrested in Honolulu or any other jurisdiction in Hawaii for prostitution or sexual assault in the 4th degree, particularly in this type of sting operation, you should contact Benjamin Ignacio, Criminal Defense Attorney, to determine your rights as a defendant.  We would be particularly motivated to go to trial on your behalf.

Prostitution Defense Strategies Evolve


Prior to the summer of 2013, men arrested and prosecuted here in Hawaii for hiring a prostitute usually had a simple and discreet solution to their legal problem, at least for a first offense.  Any defendant could have his lawyer offer a no contest plea in exchange for an alternative disposition known as a Deferred Acceptance.  It essentially meant that if the defendant stayed arrest and conviction free for a specified period of time, usually six months, the charge would be dismissed.  That option is no longer available, as the State has tried to get tougher on prostitution and what it considers to be human trafficking crimes.

Now it is tougher to avoid having a conviction on your record for prostitution as an accused customer.  Tougher, but not impossible.  The difference is in the details.

While any attorney can guide his client through a Deferred Acceptance plea, now, the only remaining way to avoid the stigma of suffering a prostitution conviction on your record as an accused customer is by preparing to fight the charges.  There are still advantages to be found by a seasoned trial lawyer.  Was this a sting?  Did law enforcement use surveillance?  Was money actually exchanged?  Was the undercover officer overzealous in closing the deal?

For providers, a Deferred Acceptance is still available.  However, conventional wisdom is that the risk of real jail time is greater, as is the possibility of being geographically restricted.  Additionally, the penalties increase for repeat convictions including the possibility of mandatory jail time.  Just as for hobbyists, providers can benefit from an experienced and aggressive trial lawyer can make the difference.

And who knows, if such a lawyer finds enough advantages to exploit, it’s theoretically possible that he can convince a prosecutor who now finds himself “surrounded”, to amend the charge to predate the deferral proscription.

Family Court Dismissals


Defendants in Family Court might be getting a late Christmas present.

On December 18, 2013, the Hawaii Supreme Court issued a decision in State of Hawaii v. Sushil Basnet.  The case says that the Family Court has failed to follow Hawaii Rule of Penal Procedure 10(a), which requires a second arraignment in Circuit Court.  The failure to properly arraign the Defendants is fatal to the charge and requires a dismissal of the case.

What does this mean if you are currently facing a Family Court charge in courtroom 8B or 8C?  If you only had one arraignment, your case will be dismissed.  In fact, this morning (January 6, 2014), over 50 cases were dismissed by the court.  If your case has already started and you are awaiting your trial date, there is a good chance it is too late for this error to be corrected and your case should be dismissed.

This issue was raised by Defense Counsel at trial, which is why it is important to hire a criminal law attorney in Honolulu who knows how to best represent you.

Racing on Highways


Racing on a public road or highway is illegal in Hawaii.  The penalties for a conviction can be severe.  Under HRS 291C-103(a)(c) a conviction for racing on highway can be punished by up to a $500 fine and 6 months in jail.  An experienced Honolulu defense lawyer can help you stay out of jail and minimize that fine.


If you have previous convictions for racing on highway or you were cited for racing while going more than 30 miles per hour over the speed limit, the potential penalties can increase.  In some situations you could face a year in jail and a three-year license suspension.  The State can even take your car away from you, without compensation!


From a trial perspective, racing on highways can be very difficult for the prosecutor to prove.  Frequently, innocent motorists are cited for racing when they are simply speeding near or around other cars that are also speeding.  Police assume that just because two or more cars are speeding that they have agreed to race each other.  Often that assumption won’t stand up in court.  A Honolulu criminal defense lawyer with experience in traffic cases can point out flaws in the State’s case and get you a good result.


If you have been cited for racing, call the Honolulu criminal defense lawyer Benjamin Ignacio to consult on how to achieve the best results.

Your Pending DUI Case Could Be Dismissed Based on a New Supreme Court Decision


There has been a significant development in the area of drunk driving cases (a.k.a. DUI or OVUII or operating vehicle under influence of intoxicants) this week.  If you have a DUI arrest that occurred within the past year or more, there is a good chance that the Complaint filed by the Prosecutor’s office is defective.  Under a Hawaii Supreme Court decision (State vs. Nesmith) issued months ago, the Prosecutors have for years been erroneously drafting the DUI or OVUII charge.   Now under a new case (State vs. Castro) the Supreme Court has all but directed that these cases should be dismissed without prejudice.  This Supreme Court directive does not apply to all DUI/OVUII cases, however.

Even when concerns were raised about the defects months ago, the Prosecutors didn’t take steps to make corrections and therefore a good number of cases from the past years which remain pending are defective and should be dismissed.  To find out whether this applies to your DUI arrest or recent plea contact Benjamin Ignacio, Criminal Defense Attorney, for more guidance.

Attorney Ignacio’s Murder Defendant’s Life Sentence is Vacated


Attorney Benjamin Ignacio’s client Glenn Keohokapu Jr.’s life sentence was vacated by the Hawaii Supreme Court because of judicial error at trial.  Keohokapu, who was originally charged with murder, was convicted of the lesser offense of Manslaughter.  Unfortunately for him, because of his lengthy criminal history, what would have been a 20 year sentence was extended to life with the possibility of parole.  Because of procedural errors which were originally spotted and objected to by trial defense attorney Benjamin Ignacio, the Supreme Court vacated the extended sentence.  The issue of Mr. Keohokapu’s sentence has been remanded, or sent back, to the trial court for correction.

Had Mr. Keohokapu been convicted of murder instead of manslaughter, under the original proceedings, his sentence would have been life without the possibility of parole.  This means he would never have been released from prison.  Thanks to effective representation Honolulu Criminal Defense Lawyer Benjamin Ignacio, Mr. Keohokapu can now make a reasonable argument for a 20 year sentence, easily a savings of 20-40 years.

Bench Warrants in Honolulu


A bench warrant is a court order ordering the authorities to locate and arrest a Defendant.  There are many types of bench warrants – traffic warrants, domestic violence warrants, and felony warrants.  If there is a bench warrant out for your arrest, you are subject to being arrested by the authorities immediately and you may need a Honolulu bench warrant lawyer to assist you in resolving this complex matter.

We get a lot of calls asking “What do I do about my bench warrant?”  If there is a bench warrant out for your arrest, you need to call a Honolulu bench warrant lawyer who handles bench warrants in Honolulu.  An attorney can file a motion asking to “recall” the warrant.  A motion to recall the warrant can allow you to appear voluntarily in court and avoid being arrested.  Most people faced with a bench warrant, and immediate arrest, choose to hire an attorney to recall the warrant and get the case on the right track again.

Contact Criminal Defense Attorney Ben Ignacio at 532-3803 to assist you with your bench warrant problems.


I Hired Ben Ignacio For My Abuse Case And Was Found NOT GUILTY!



by Anonymous

The following is a genuine experience written from the perspective of a real life client of Honolulu Criminal Defense Lawyer Ben Ignacio. It has only been edited to preserve anonymity, which was requested.  While results and experiences may vary from case to case, it gives a first-person view of what our clients go through.

I thought I was happily married but things slowly deteriorated.  Maybe I could have done things differently, maybe not.  The next thing I know, things at home are getting tense.  Heated.  Confrontational.

One day, the cops called and said I was wanted for questioning.  My partner, now my ex, had made a complaint about me.  I didn’t understand.  We had been arguing regularly but nothing physical ever happened.  Why did the police want to question me?

Being a law-abiding citizen, I made arrangements to meet the officer at the station and I went down there only to find out that I was being accused of physically abusing my ex.  My ex was reporting something that happened months ago!  I vaguely remembered the incident that they wanted to know about.  It was a pretty serious argument that night, but did I really hit or abuse my ex?  I certainly didn’t think so.  The next thing I knew I was arrested.  The charge was called Abuse of Family or Household Member.

Shortly after bailing out, my family attorney referred me to Ben Ignacio.  I was told he was a criminal defense attorney with trial experience.  I had a free consultation where I met with my criminal defense attorney and we put all the issues in perspective; my marriage, my life, my self-esteem.  For the first time, I started to see things a little more clearly and began to put the pieces of my life back together. I was thinking, “I’m a professional.  I can’t be thought of as a spouse abuser.”  My goal was to not lose my kids, not lose my house, and not lose this trial! They even referred me to a good divorce attorney.

The accusations were so weak that my criminal defense attorney thought it was a good idea to try to convince the Prosecutors to drop or reduce the charges before my first court date.  They thought it was worth a try but I was told not to get my hopes up.  Being experienced criminal defense attorneys they had seen this before, but they were right.  So I wasn’t too disappointed when the charges weren’t dropped.  I decided that I would make no more compromises and I insisted on pleading “not guilty”.

Months went by as we waited for trial.  It became frustrating.  Frustrating especially when my criminal defense attorney got the police reports only to find that my ex had exaggerated all the so-called “facts”.

It also got frustrating when my ex filed for a restraining order against me and delayed the trial in an obvious attempt to gain an advantage in the divorce.

Throughout all this Ben Ignacio kept calm.  He had seen all this before.  More importantly, he kept me calm, and even talked me out of pleading to a deal when I just wanted to get things over with.  It would have been an easy way out.  My criminal defense attorney told me the Prosecutor was looking for a way out of trial.

Well, long story short, I finally did get to trial.  It must’ve been about nine months.  The jury got to watch my ex on the stand and answer the tough questions.  Why didn’t you call the police right away if you were abused?  Why did you wait six months?  Why didn’t you call an ambulance?  You didn’t go to the doctor right away if you were so hurt?  Where are the videos you supposedly took of your bruises?  Where are the celphone pictures?  Why didn’t you leave the house right away?

You were having an affair, weren’t you?

I didn’t have to testify, but I wanted to.  I wanted to tell my side of the story.  After watching my ex cross-examined so well, though, I knew it wasn’t necessary.  It was as if my criminal defense attorney’s cross-examination WAS my testimony.

Ben Ignacio wrapped everything up neatly in a closing argument to the jury and I could tell they really doubted what my ex was saying.  I even felt a little sorry for the Prosecutor who was trying to make sense of all the silly things my ex had said.

In the end, the jury swiftly returned a not guilty verdict.  I can’t say I was happy because my life was forever changed, but I was certainly relieved.

New Developments in DUI/ADLRO Law


Interlock Device Will Restore Your Privilege to Drive

Typically, persons arrested for DUI (Operating a Vehicle Under Influence of Intoxicants) have also had their drivers license confiscated at the police station.  They are probably wondering whether to hire a Hawaii criminal defense lawyer to help with your licensing issues. There are new developments for people facing drivers license revocation at the ADLRO (Administrative Drivers License Revocation Office) that raise as many questions as answers.  What will happen at the ADLRO now?  Should you still get a criminal defense lawyer to handle your ADLRO matter?

There is good news and bad news on the drivers license front.  The bad news is that, since 2011, you can lose your license for longer, on average, than you used to.  The good news is that despite the longer drivers license revocation, you can restore your privilege to drive relatively quickly and without significant limitation.  Either way, the licensing problem presented by ADLRO is best handled by a private criminal defense lawyer, because, remember a free Public Defender cannot assist in civil license revocation proceedings at ADLRO.

Under the old DUI laws in effect in Hawaii prior to 2011, a first offense DUI arrestee would lose his license for typically three months.  During that time, the last 60 days could see driving privileges restored for limited purposes, times, and destinations.  Even more inconveniently, the first 30 days was said to be “absolute”, meaning no driving whatsoever was allowed.  There was little your defense lawyer could do.

Now, the ADLRO can revoke your license for one year.  However, at your request or your criminal defense lawyer’s request, on your behalf, most people are immediately eligible for a partial restoration of driving privileges if you install an interlock device into your car.  An interlock device is a piece of aftermarket equipment designed to verify whether there is alcohol in your system.  Instead of waiting the 30 “absolute” days before driving, and instead of the limitations on driving only to and from work, a person can begin to drive as soon as an interlock device is installed in his car!  What’s even better your defense lawyer can still fight your revocation and have the interlock device installed at the same time.

Hawk Sing & Ignacio can help you arrange to have an interlock device installed AND fight the revocation of your drivers license.  We are the criminal defense lawyers you want on your side in any DUI problem, especially the ADLRO revocation.

Contact Us

If you or someone you know is facing DUI charges, Contact Hawk Sing & Ignacio today at 808-532-3800.

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