March 25 Shelter in Place—Distance sharing is caring. So Zoom video conference to continue with your essential legal services while keeping you, your family and your community safe. Smith & White is open as an essential service because courts remain open to address safety issues. So contact us in the secure manner you think best.

Justia Lawyer Rating
AV Preeminent
Avvo Client's Choice Award 2018
Avvo Rating 10 - Top Attorney
BBB Business Accredited
2019 Champion of Justice

Under Washington law, if a defendant is convicted of a crime that constitutes an act of domestic violence, the court may find that aggravated circumstances are present that warrant an exceptional sentence. Recently, a Washington appellate court denied a criminal defendant’s challenge to such a sentence, finding that the defendant’s interpretation of the relevant statute was flawed and would lead to an absurd result. If you are accused of committing a crime of domestic violence, it is wise to meet with a knowledgeable Washington domestic violence defense attorney to talk about your options.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant and his wife were separated when the defendant visited the wife in the marital home. They were embroiled in an argument when the husband took out a gun and threatened to kill himself. At that time, the wife was in the bedroom, holding the couple’s infant daughter. The defendant calmed down and tried to uncock his gun. In doing so, he accidentally discharged the weapon, shooting the wife through the bedroom door.

It is reported that the wife subsequently died from her injuries, and the defendant was charged with first-degree manslaughter. During the trial, the judge gave the jury an instruction on the elements of an aggravated domestic violence offense. The jury found the defendant guilty of manslaughter and found that the evidence supported the conclusion that the act was an aggravated domestic violence offense. The court imposed an exceptional sentence above the standard range, and the defendant appealed.

Continue reading

In Washington, some crimes have alternative means of commission. In other words, a person may be found guilty of such a crime for engaging in more than one type of activity. Simply because there are multiple ways an offense may be committed does not mean the State’s burden is lessened. Rather, as demonstrated in a recent Washington gun crime case, jury unanimity is required to convict a person of theft of a firearm when there is inadequate evidence to support one of the means of commission. If you are charged with a weapons crime, it is advisable to meet with a trusted Washington gun crime defense attorney to discuss your case.

The Alleged Theft

It is reported that the defendant was at the home of his minor girlfriend when the home was visited by a neighbor who brought a bottle of liquor. The defendant and the neighbor consumed some of the alcohol, and the defendant, his girlfriend, and the neighbor went outside so that the girlfriend could shoot the neighbor’s rifle. The neighbor and the defendant became involved in an altercation, and the defendant hit the neighbor in the head with the rifle. The girlfriend’s mother called 911, after which the defendant took the gun and ran into the woods.

Allegedly, when the police arrived, they saw the defendant running away but did not apprehend him. Over the next few days, the defendant stored the gun in his home and took it with him outside. The police found the weapon during a search of the defendant’s home. He was charged with and convicted of multiple crimes, including theft of a firearm. He appealed his convicted as to the theft charge, arguing that because the court failed to instruct the jury regarding unanimity, and the State did not present sufficient evidence of two of the three means of committing the crime, his conviction must be reversed.

Continue reading

While a person can be convicted of more than one crime for acts that occur during a single event, state and federal law prohibits a person from being convicted for the same criminal activity more than once. Thus, if a defendant is convicted multiple times for essentially the same crime, it may constitute a violation of the rule against double jeopardy and may be grounds for reversal. This was discussed in a recent Washington case in which the defendant was convicted for both second-degree and fourth-degree assault, for a single act. If you are accused of an assault crime, it is in your best interest to speak to a dedicated Washington assault defense attorney regarding your rights.

The Alleged Assault

It is reported that the police responded to a report of a domestic violence incident between the defendant and his victim. When the police spoke to the victim, she stated that the defendant had strangled her and bit her thumb and upper lip. The victim was covered in blood as well. The defendant was charged with second-degree assault for strangling the victim and two counts of fourth-degree assault for biting her.

Allegedly, during the trial, the victim testified that the defendant held her down rather than strangling her, and while he was holding her down, he bit her thumb. She denied that he bit her lip or that she advised the police that he bit her lip. The defendant was found guilty of second-degree assault and one of the counts of fourth-degree assault. The defendant appealed, arguing the acts for which he was convicted happened in a single assault and convicting him more than once constituted double jeopardy.

Continue reading

In Washington, when a person is charged with a weapons crime, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person committed each element of the offense. Typically, the prosecution will rely on circumstantial evidence, such as statements regarding the defendant’s whereabouts or discussions with the defendant regarding the weapons in order to prove its case. Thus, if a defendant can attack the validity of the prosecution’s evidence, it may weaken its case, but such efforts are not always successful. This was demonstrated in a recent Washington case in which the court affirmed the defendant’s convictions for firearm-related offenses despite the defendant’s arguments that the prosecution’s evidence should have been precluded at trial. If you are charged with unlawfully owning or possessing a firearm, it is advisable to speak with a skillful Washington gun crime defense attorney to discuss your case.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm as well as with being a felon in possession of ammunition, both of which were federal crimes. Following his trial, he was convicted by a jury. He then appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence found during a search of his home and in admitting evidence of his prior bad acts. The appellate court denied the defendant’s appeal, affirming his conviction.

Evidence Admissible at a Trial for Weapons Charges

First, the court explained that the officer’s entry into the defendant’s home was lawful as it was done in response to a 911 call. Further, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that the officer did not have authority to enter his home or search the surrounding hillside for weapons, and that the evidence found during the search should be suppressed.

Continue reading

Physically attacking someone often constitutes a crime. Specifically, in Washington, it may be grounds for assault charges. While engaging in physically violent behavior is generally unlawful, a defendant that is acting in self-defense might be found not guilty. If the State can show that the defendant was the first aggressor, however, the jury may be advised that self-defense is not available as a defense. In a recent Washington assault case, the court discussed the first aggressor exception to self-defense and when it applies. If you are accused of committing assault, it is prudent to meet with a trusted Washington assault defense attorney to evaluate your possible defenses.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant had a contentious relationship with the alleged victim, due to the fact that the defendant believed the victim had stolen one of his guns. At one point, the victim fired shots at the defendant’s house, and a bullet nearly struck the defendant in the head. There is conflicting evidence as to whether the victim threatened to kill the defendant. Approximately four years later, the defendant was at a gas station when he saw the victim sitting in a car in the parking lot.

It is alleged that the defendant fired multiple shots at the car and ultimately killed the victim. The defendant was charged with numerous counts of first-degree assault as well as first-degree murder. At trial, the jury was given the first-aggressor instruction. The defendant was found guilty as charged, after which he appealed. The appellate court reversed the conviction, stating that the first aggressor charge relieved the State of proving the defendant committed the alleged acts. The State then appealed.

Continue reading

As most people are aware, criminal defendants cannot be compelled to make incriminating statements and must be advised of their rights via a Miranda warning prior to any custodial interrogations. As such, any incriminating statement made by a person during a line of questioning that occurs prior to a Miranda warning may be precluded from evidence. Additionally, as discussed in a recent assault case, if a party makes an incriminating statement following such warnings, it may be inadmissible if the line of questioning as a whole constitutes a two-step interrogation. If you are charged with assault, it is wise to speak to a zealous Washington assault defense attorney to determine what arguments you may be able to set forth in your defense.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant and his victim lived in an RV together. A passerby alerted the police to an altercation outside of the RV, which prompted the police to report to the scene. When they arrived, they asked the defendant what happened, and he responded that he was trying to fix things between him and the victim. He further stated that he had not choked the victim, he was just trying to get her to talk to him. The defendant was given a Miranda warning, after which he was questioned.

Allegedly, he again denied choking or hitting the victim but stated that he placed his hands on her shoulders. The defendant was charged with assault with domestic violence allegations. Prior to trial, he filed a motion to preclude the statements he made to the police during the investigation. The court denied his motion, and he was convicted, after which he appealed.

Continue reading

Although all citizens of Washington are expected to comply with the law, regardless of their maturity, the law presumes that children under a certain age lack the capacity to commit a crime. Thus, if a defendant charged with a criminal offense is under the age of twelve, the State must prove that the person understood the act he or she committed and knew that it was wrong. What constitutes evidence sufficient to overcome the presumption was discussed in a recent Washington assault case in which the court found the State failed to meet its burden of proof and reversed the defendant’s conviction. If you or your child are charged with assault, it is critical to retain a seasoned Washington assault defense attorney to assist you in fighting to protect your rights.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant, who was eleven years old, was confined to a juvenile detention center after she was charged with assaulting her grandmother, who was her legal guardian. While she was at the center, she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and attention deficit hyperactive disorder, stemming from her troubled and traumatic childhood when she lived with her parents who suffered from mental illness and drug addiction.

Allegedly, while the defendant was at the detention center, she was charged with custodial assault. Before the trial on the custodial assault charge, the court held a capacity hearing and ultimately found that the defendant possessed the ability to commit the charged offense. The defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court incorrectly understood the law regarding juvenile capacity and therefore applied the wrong standard.

Continue reading

It is well-established under state and federal law that a person accused of a crime cannot be compelled to make incriminating statements. In some instances, though, a criminal defendant may be coerced into making a statement that can be used against them, due to a lack of awareness regarding his or her rights. In a recent Washington case in which the defendant was accused of domestic violence assault with a firearm, the court discussed when an incriminating statement should be suppressed as an involuntary admission. If you live in Washington and are accused of committing a weapons offense, it is advisable to confer with a skilled Washington gun crime defense attorney to discuss what evidence the State may be permitted to use against you.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant and another woman were both romantically involved with the victim, but unaware of the existence of one another. They both became pregnant, after which the defendant broke up with the victim. The other woman learned that the defendant was also expecting the victim’s child, and reached out to the defendant. The two women then confronted the victim, and the victim testified that the defendant shot him in the leg.

Allegedly, the defendant was arrested three weeks later and transported to jail. She was advised of her Miranda rights and right to counsel, after which she stated she wished to make a statement. She was reminded of her right against self-incrimination and right to counsel but nonetheless admitted to participating in the shooting. She was then charged with first-degree assault with a firearm. She was convicted by a jury, after which she appealed, alleging in part that the statement she made in jail was coerced.

Continue reading

In many instances in which a person is convicted of a serious offense, in addition to being penalized via jail time or a fine, he or she will also lose the right to possess or own a firearm. As such, if a convicted felon is found with guns in his or her possession, it may result in additional charges. As discussed in a recent Washington case, the State may be able to obtain a conviction for a firearms charge by demonstrating constructive rather than actual possession. If you are a Washington resident currently charged with a weapons crime, it is prudent to speak to a dedicated Washington gun crime defense attorney regarding your rights.

Factual History

It is reported that the police received a tip that the defendant, who was a convicted felon, was in possession of firearms in violation of the law. As such, an officer visited the home where the defendant lived with his girlfriend. She allowed him to enter and search the premises and stated that while she owned guns, they were all locked in a safe. While she had the only key to the safe, she sometimes left it hanging in her bedroom. The officer observed the safe, which contained one more gun than reported and also saw a holster with a pistol in it hanging from a bedpost. The girlfriend admitted this was the defendant’s gun. The defendant was subsequently charged with six counts of unlawful possession of a firearm, and following a trial was convicted on all counts. He then appealed.

Evidence Sufficient to Show Possession of a Firearm

On appeal, the defendant argued in part that there was insufficient evidence to demonstrate that he possessed the firearms within the gun safe, which were the basis for five of his charges. The court explained that in appeals challenging the sufficiency of the evidence, all evidence must be reviewed in a light most favorable to the plaintiff, but circumstantial and direct evidence should be afforded the same weight. When a party claims the evidence is insufficient, though, they admit the truth of the evidence and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn from it.

Continue reading

Many criminal statutes require the State to prove that a defendant possessed a certain mental state during the commission of the crime. If the State cannot establish that the defendant had the required state of mind when an offense was allegedly committed, then the defendant should not be found guilty. Recently, a Washington court discussed whether a defendant could argue that he lacked the requisite mental state to violate a domestic violence no-contact order due to voluntary intoxication in a case in which the defendant was charged with numerous crimes. If you live in Washington and are accused of a crime of domestic violence, it is advisable to consult a trusted Washington domestic violence defense attorney to discuss what defenses you may be able to assert.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was subject to two separate domestic violence no-contact orders that barred him from contacting his former girlfriend with whom he shared a child. Specifically, the orders stated that the defendant was not permitted to communicate with his former girlfriend except to discuss custody exchanges, and prohibited him from coming within 1,000 feet of her, her school, work, or home. While the orders were in effect, the former girlfriend found the defendant in her living room in the early morning.

Allegedly, the defendant appeared to be intoxicated and was crying and mumbling. He then swallowed a bottle of pills and lost consciousness, after which the former girlfriend called the police. The defendant was ultimately charged with multiple offenses, including two counts of a felony violation of a domestic violence order. During the trial, the defendant requested an instruction on the defense of involuntary intoxication, which the court denied. The jury convicted the defendant, after which he appealed, arguing in part that the trial court erred in denying his request.

Continue reading

Contact Information