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.