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Under Washington law, the State must prove each element of a crime to rightfully convict a defendant. For example, if a defendant is charged with possessing a stolen firearm the State must provide evidence showing that the defendant possessed a stolen firearm and acted with knowledge that the firearm was stolen. If the State does not have strong enough evidence to show the defendant actually knew the firearm he or she possessed was stolen in most cases, the State may try to rely on profile testimony in support of the charge. This was illustrated in a recent Washington appellate case, where a defendant’s conviction for possession of a stolen firearm was overturned after the State relied on testimony that because the defendant was a convicted felon he was more likely to possess a stolen firearm. If you are charged with a firearm crime in Washington it is critical to retain a seasoned Washington weapons charge defense attorney to assist you in precluding any evidence the State should not be permitted to introduce against you.

Facts Regarding the Crime and Trial

Allegedly, in June 2015, the defendant was confronted by a police officer pursuant to an outstanding warrant. The defendant ran away from the officer and threw a gun while he was running. The officer ultimately apprehended the defendant and retrieved the gun, which was reported stolen in October 2014. The defendant, who was a convicted felon, was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of a stolen firearm.

It is reported that during the trial, the State introduced testimony from multiple police officers regarding how convicted felons obtain guns. The officers each testified that “they” will steal them or buy them off the street. Further, the prosecuting attorney in his closing argument stated that it would be impossible to prove the defendant had actual knowledge that the gun was stolen, but “that’s how these guys are getting them.” The defendant was convicted of both charges after which he appealed the possession of a stolen firearm charge.
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Criminal defendants are afforded the right to a meaningful defense by both the Washington and United States Constitutions. This means, in part, that a criminal defendant has the right to confront any witnesses who testify in support of the State’s position. If a criminal defendant is not afforded the right to a meaningful defense, it can be grounds for seeking a reversal of any conviction obtained by the State, as illustrated in a case recently decided by the Washington Court of Appeals. In that case, the court reversed the defendant’s conviction, due to the fact that the defendant was convicted of assault without being permitted to question witnesses regarding facts surrounding the alleged assault. If you are a Washington resident charged with assault you should speak with a capable Washington assault defense attorney to discuss your rights under the law.

The Alleged Assault

Reportedly, the defendant’s assault charges arose out of an altercation with the victim. The victim drove the defendant to the hospital due to an eye injury. When the defendant was discharged, he discovered the victim had left. The defendant had no money or cell phone, so he sold his watch to pay for a taxi to drive him home. He subsequently went to the victim’s house and demanded money from him, arguing that the victim’s abandonment forced him to sell his watch. The victim refused to pay, after which the defendant left.

Allegedly, a few days later the defendant returned to the victim’s house with a friend. What transpired at the victim’s house is disputed between the parties. It was conceded that the defendant and the victim engaged in an altercation, but it was disputed whether the victim had a knife during the altercation. When the friend was examined by the State’s attorney regarding what happened, he testified he believed the victim had a knife. He admitted he had previously told the police he did not think the victim was armed, however, and that he never saw the victim with a knife. When he was cross-examined by defense counsel regarding the inconsistencies in his account, the State’s attorney objected to the line of questioning and the court sustained the objection, halting any further testimony on the matter. Further, during closing arguments, the State stated multiple times that the friend testified that the victim did not have a weapon. The defendant was convicted of his charges, after which he appealed.
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Under Washington law, a defendant can only be convicted of the crime for which he or she was charged, or a lesser included offense of that charge. Thus, if the State charges a defendant with violation of a protective order but fails to offer proof to establish the defendant committed the crime as charged, the State cannot then modify the information to change the elements of the alleged crime. This was illustrated in a case recently decided by the Washington Court of Appeals in which the court reversed a defendant’s conviction for violation of a protective order, following the State’s mid-trial amendment of the information charging the defendant. If you live in Washington and are charged with violation of a protective order it is in your best interest to consult a skilled Washington domestic violence defense attorney to discuss potential defenses to the charges you face.

Facts Surrounding the Defendant’s Charges

Reportedly, the defendant and his wife were in the process of divorcing when the wife obtained a protective order against the defendant. The order prohibited the defendant from contacting the wife or entering either of the two properties they previously inhabited together. However, the defendant was advised he could contact the sheriff’s department to assist him in obtaining his belongings from one of the properties. The defendant was also personally served with the order. The defendant was subsequently arrested after his truck was seen at one of the properties. The truck was searched at it was found that both the defendant’s and the plaintiff’s belongings were in the truck. The defendant was found on the property charged with violating the protective order and second-degree burglary.

It is alleged that after the State rested its case at trial, the defendant testified that he was at the property to return the plaintiff’s belongings and pick up his belongings. Further, he admitted the property was subject to the protective order. The defendant moved to dismiss the violation of the protective order charge, however, due to the fact that the information alleged he violated the order by contacting the wife. The State then moved to amend the information to allege that the defendant violated the order by entering a protected property. The State’s motion was granted and the defendant was found guilty, after which he appealed.
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In an effort to provide consistency between penalties imposed on criminal defendants throughout the state, the Washington legislature has set forth criminal sentencing guidelines. The guidelines set forth the mandatory minimum sentence and the maximum sentence that can be imposed for a crime. Some crimes, such as assault, have degrees ranging from a misdemeanor to a felony, with separate sentences for each degree of the crime. If a defendant is convicted of a crime and the penalty imposed exceeds the penalty allowed by law, it may constitute grounds for a reversal of a sentence.

This was shown in a recent assault case, in which a Washington appellate court reversed a sentence following the defendant’s conviction, due to the fact that the combined terms of confinement and community custody to which the defendant was sentenced exceeded the maximum sentence permitted. If you are a Washington resident and are charged with assault or another violent crime you should meet with an experienced Washington criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss the circumstances surrounding your charges and your possible defenses.

Allegedly, the defendant was at his home when three sheriff deputies arrived to serve arrest warrants on the defendant. The deputies entered the defendant’s home and found the defendant inside of a bathroom in one of the bedrooms. The deputies advised the defendant that they had warrants for his arrest and told him to exit the bathroom. One of the deputies then grabbed the defendant’s arm and told the defendant he was under arrest. The defendant began to struggle and yell at the deputies. The defendant then began to throw punches at one of the deputies, after which the other two deputies physically restrained the defendant. The defendant broke free and ripped a towel rack off of the wall and began swinging it at the deputies.

When a person is convicted of a crime in Washington, in addition to any sentence or fines imposed following the conviction, the person may lose the right to possess a firearm. Thus, if the person is subsequently found to be in possession of a firearm he or she may be charged with unlawful possession of a firearm. A Washington court of appeals recently discussed what constitutes sufficient evidence of possession, in a case in which it overturned a conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm. If you were charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, you should consult a capable Washington criminal defense attorney proficient in handling firearm cases to discuss what evidence the State may introduce against you.

Discovery of the Firearm

Reportedly, the defendant was under Department of Corrections supervision. The terms of his supervision required him to provide a valid address. The defendant reported he was living with his girlfriend, after which the defendant’s supervising community corrections officer conducted a routine home search. The father of the defendant’s girlfriend was the only person home during the search and confirmed that the defendant had recently moved into the home. Additionally, there was clothing that appeared to belong to a man throughout the home, including clothing the defendant had been observed wearing. During the search, the officer found a firearm in the living room. DNA testing revealed that the defendant’s fingerprint was on the firearm. The defendant was subsequently charged with and found guilty of unlawful possession of a firearm.

The law affords individuals certain rights, including the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. In other words, the police are not permitted to detain or search a person without a reasonable basis. Further, the State is precluded from introducing any evidence obtained during an unlawful stop against a defendant. If a conviction is based on evidence obtained during an unlawful stop, it may be grounds for a reversal of the conviction, as evidenced in a recent case in which a Washington court of appeals vacated a conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm. If you or a loved one are facing charges of unlawful possession of a firearm, you should meet with a skilled Washington criminal defense attorney to discuss your available defenses.

Facts Surrounding the Defendant’s Charges

Allegedly, the defendant was a seated passenger in a car parked in the parking lot of a grocery store. A man who parked next to the defendant’s car, observed the defendant holding a gun on his lap. The man went into the grocery store and called 911 to report what he observed. An officer responded to the call, an observed the car in which the defendant was a passenger leaving the lot. The officer subsequently conducted a felony stop. The driver, who claimed she was the owner of the car, denied there were any firearms in the car and gave the officer consent to search the car. It was determined that the defendant had prior felony convictions and was under Department of Corrections (DOC) supervision, so DOC was contacted to conduct the search.

In Washington, there are certain factors that can increase a person’s sentence if he or she is convicted of a crime. For example, firearm enhancements can increase the sentence for a felony conviction. A Washington appellate court recently discussed the sufficiency of evidence needed to support a firearm enhancement in a case in which the defendant argued that there was insufficient evidence to support the enhancement following her assault, kidnapping, and robbery convictions. If you are charged with a criminal offense involving the use of a firearm, it is important to retain an experienced Washington criminal defense attorney to analyze what evidence the State may introduce against you and the effect any evidence may have in the event of a conviction.

Facts Surrounding the Alleged Crime

It is reported that the defendant and two other individuals robbed multiple people inside a house. The defendant demanded money and drugs from one of the victims. Additionally, at three different points during the robbery, she allegedly pointed what appeared to be a gun at people. Ultimately, the defendant and her accomplices left the home. They were apprehended about a mile from the house. After searching the vehicle in which the defendant and her accomplices were traveling, the police found a rifle, a shotgun, and two pistols. On further inspection, however, it was revealed that only the shotgun was a real gun, as the rifle and pistols were pellet guns. The defendant was charged with a multitude of crimes, including robbery, assault, and kidnapping. Following a trial, a jury found her guilty on all charges and found that she was armed with a firearm during the crimes. The defendant appealed on several grounds. One of the arguments set forth by the defendant was that there was insufficient evidence to support the firearm enhancements to her kidnapping, robbery, and assault convictions.

Under Washington law, if a person is convicted of more than one crime, any sentences imposed typically run concurrently. Courts have the discretion to order sentences to run consecutively, however, and such orders will not be overturned absent an abuse of discretion.

A Washington appellate court recently affirmed a court’s order for consecutive sentences following a defendant’s conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm, in part due to the defendant’s repeated commission of the offense. If you are charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, you should consult a seasoned Washington criminal defense attorney to discuss your case.

Charges Against the Defendant

Reportedly, the defendant was convicted of drug offenses and armed robbery as a juvenile, for which he served a three-year prison term. Following his release, he married and began his own business. Then, in 2015, he was charged with two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm and promoting prostitution in Pierce County. He was released pending trial with the condition that he not engage in illegal conduct or possess any firearms or weapons. He failed to appear for a scheduled hearing, after which the court issued a bench warrant. The defendant was arrested in King County and had a firearm in his possession at the time of his arrest.  He was subsequently charged with unlawful possession of a firearm. Later that month, he was charged with second-degree assault with intent to commit second-degree rape.

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A Washington law known as the Sentencing Reform Act provides standard sentencing ranges that set forth what the legislature has deemed an appropriate sentence for a crime. A sentencing court is not always required to abide by the standard sentence, and in some cases may set forth an exceptional sentence, which is a sentence that is below the sentencing range.

Recently, a Washington Court of Appeals explained when a court’s refusal to issue an exceptional sentence and noted that a court’s discretion to impose an exceptional sentence does not extend to deadly weapon enhancements.  If you face charges for a crime that involves the use of a deadly weapon, you should speak with a knowledgeable  Washington criminal defense attorney to discuss your available defenses.

Facts Surrounding the Alleged Crimes

Reportedly, the defendant participated in what he believed was an organized robbery of a marijuana dispensary with some of the dispensary employees. The dispensary supervisor saw the robbery on surveillance video and called 911. The defendant and his co-conspirators were subsequently arrested and the defendant was charged with robbery in the first degree and unlawful imprisonment.

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If you are charged with a crime, in part, due to a firearm found during a search without a warrant it is essential to determine whether the search constituted an unreasonable search and seizure and therefore, the evidence of the gun should be suppressed.

A Washington court of appeals recently discussed the grounds for permitting a Terry stop, an exception to the rule a warrant is needed to conduct a search, in assessing whether to overturn convictions based on a firearm and other evidence found during the stop. If you are charged with a firearm related crime, it is in your best interest to retain an experienced Washington criminal defense attorney to fight to preclude evidence that the State should not be permitted to use.

Facts Regarding the Traffic Stop

Reportedly, in the early morning hours of October 16, 2015, the police received four calls within a few minutes regarding an active shooter at a gas station. A police officer responded to the call and observed two men sitting in an SUV near the entrance of the gas station parking lot. The men matched the description of the shooters that were provided in the 911 calls. The officer initiated a traffic stop and ordered the passengers of the SUV to exit the vehicle. The passengers were frisked, handcuffed, read their Miranda warnings, and placed in the back of a police car.

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