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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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In many instances in which a person is accused of engaging in acts of domestic violence, a court will issue a protective order barring the person from contacting the alleged victim. While a violation of a protective order may constitute a crime, if the terms of the order are unclear, it may not be understandable. In a recent Washington case, an appellate court discussed what terms in a protective order are sufficient to apprise a defendant of his or her limitations and what constitutes adequate evidence of a violation. If you are a Washington resident faced with charges of violating a protective order, you should confer with a seasoned Washington domestic violence defense attorney regarding your possible defenses.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant drove his girlfriend to the home of her granddaughter. The granddaughter had a valid protective order in place against the defendant, however, that required the defendant to “stay away” from the granddaughter and her home. After the defendant dropped off his girlfriend, he was arrested for violating the protective order and charged with multiple felony domestic offenses due to his prior criminal history.

Allegedly, the defendant pleaded guilty to certain charges but proceeded to trial on the charge regarding the violation of the anti-harassment provision of the protective order, arguing that the language of the order requiring him to “stay away” was vague. The trial court disagreed, finding that the language was understandable, and convicted the defendant. The defendant then appealed, arguing the State’s evidence was insufficient to obtain a conviction.

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Typically, in a Washington criminal trial, the prosecution is limited to introducing evidence that would persuade a judge or jury that the defendant committed the charged offense. As such, any evidence that is unrelated to the underlying crimes, and that would be prejudicial to the defendant may be precluded. For example, the prosecution cannot typically refer to uncharged crimes the defendant may have committed, as discussed in a recent Washington weapons charges case. If you live in Washington and are charged with a weapons crime, it is prudent to meet with a knowledgeable Washington weapons crime defense attorney to discuss what evidence the prosecution may be permitted to introduce against you at trial.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant had a close relationship with a female friend that lived with a boyfriend and a child she had with the boyfriend. One evening, the boyfriend showed the defendant multiple guns that he owned and kept in a gun safe. The following morning, the defendant, who suffered from several mental illnesses, became convinced that the boyfriend had molested the child and advised his friend that they needed to take the guns and child and leave the apartment.

Allegedly, the friend dismissed the defendant’s allegations, but he persisted, after which they became involved in a physical altercation. The friend called the police, and when the police arrived, they found the defendant outside of the apartment building with a bag containing two guns. The defendant was charged with two counts of firearm theft and second-degree assault. He was convicted as charged, after which he appealed on several grounds.

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Often when a person is charged with assault, the evidence the State presents against the defendant is purely circumstantial. Thus, in many cases, there is insufficient evidence for the State to obtain a conviction. In some cases, the State will introduce evidence of substantial bodily harm to support the allegations a defendant committed assault. Recently, a Washington court discussed what constitutes sufficient evidence of substantial bodily harm in a case in which the defendant was convicted of second-degree assault of her minor son. If you are a Washington resident currently faced with assault charges, it is critical to retain a practiced Washington assault defense attorney to assist you in mounting a strong defense.

Facts Regarding the Alleged Assault

It is reported that prior to dropping the victim off at daycare, the defendant called the daycare to report that the victim had a bruise on his face due to an accident. Upon examination of the victim, the daycare noticed the victim had substantial bruising on his face and neck. As such, the daycare called the police, who began an investigation into the defendant. The defendant was ultimately charged with assault in the second degree of a child and was convicted following a trial. She then appealed, arguing, among other things, that there was insufficient evidence to support her conviction. Upon review, the appellate court affirmed her conviction.

Evidence of Substantial Bodily Harm

Under Washington law, a person will be found guilty of assault in the second degree of a child if the person is over eighteen years old, and the victim is under thirteen years old. There are numerous ways the State can prove assault in the second degree, one of which is through showing that a defendant intentionally assaulted another person, thereby recklessly causing substantial bodily harm. In turn, substantial bodily harm is defined under Washington law as a bodily injury that involves a disfigurement that is temporary but significant, a fracture, or temporary impairment or loss of bodily function.

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In some cases in which a defendant is sentenced to imprisonment, he or she may be able to obtain a reduced sentence or compassionate release. There are strict parameters that define when a compassionate release is appropriate, and a court will not grant a defendant compassionate release unless the defendant demonstrates that one of the limited circumstances applies. Recently, a Washington court assessed whether the COVID-19 pandemic warrants sufficient grounds for a defendant serving a sentence for assault to obtain compassionate release, ultimately determining that it did not. If you live in Washington and are accused of committing assault, it is advisable to speak to a skillful Washington assault defense attorney to discuss your options.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was serving a prison term of twenty months for assaulting a police officer. The defendant, who was 23-years-old, suffered from a heart murmur and filed an emergency motion for compassionate release, arguing that it was warranted due to the threat that he would become infected with COVID-19 while imprisoned. After reviewing the facts and relevant law, the court denied the defendant’s motion.

Grounds for Compassionate Release

Generally, a conviction that includes a sentence of imprisonment is a final judgment that may not be modified by a district court, with limited exceptions. For example, under the compassionate release statute, a defendant may only seek a reduction in a sentence when he or she establishes that he or she has met the statutory exhaustion requirements, a compelling and extraordinary reason supports the defendant’s motion, and the reduction sought is consistent with the policy statement, which sets forth the criteria for determining if a compelling reason for a sentence reduction exists.

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It is common knowledge that when a person is charged with a crime, they cannot be forced to make self-incriminating statements. Many people do not understand the nuances of the right against self-incrimination, however, or when it applies, as demonstrated in a recent case in which the defendant’s conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm was upheld, in part because of statements the defendant made to police prior to his arrest. If you are charged with a weapons crime, it is prudent to speak to a knowledgeable Washington weapons charge defense attorney regarding your rights.

Facts Surrounding the Defendant’s Arrest

It is reported that the defendant was arrested and charged with theft of a firearm and two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm. Before the trial commenced, the defendant filed a motion to suppress statements he made to police officers prior to his arrest, on the grounds that he was not advised of his Miranda rights, his statements were involuntary, and he was in the custody of the police. The trial court denied the defendant’s motion, and he was convicted. He appealed on numerous grounds, including the argument that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress. After reviewing the facts of the case, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Right Against Self-Incrimination

Upon review, the appellate court found that the defendant was not in police custody at the time he made his incriminating statements, and therefore, the trial court properly denied his motion to suppress. The appellate court explained that in determining whether a suspect is in police custody, the court will assess whether a reasonable person in the suspect’s position would feel as if his or her freedom was impaired to the degree normally associated with an arrest. The court went on to state that an interrogation in terms of Miranda rights does not only refer to express questioning but also to any actions or words on behalf of the police that the police understand are reasonably likely to result in an incriminating statement.

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