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People are protected by both the State and Federal Constitutions against unreasonable search and seizures. What this means, in part, is that the police cannot stop a driver absent a warrant or a reasonable suspicion that the person is engaging in criminal behavior. Thus, if the police stop a motorist without cause and the person is subsequently charged with a DUI offense, there may be grounds to suppress the evidence gathered during the stop. What constitutes sufficient grounds to effectuate a traffic stop was the topic of a recent Washington opinion in which the defendant sought a reversal of his DUI conviction. If you are accused of driving under the influence, it is advisable to consult a knowledgeable Washington DUI defense attorney to discuss your possible defenses.

The Defendant’s Arrest

Allegedly, a police officer was dispatched to investigate a hit and run accident involving a white SUV. When he arrived at the scene, he observed a sedan with significant damage to the driver’s side door parked on the shoulder of the highway. The driver of the sedan was lying unconscious on the side of the road, and a witness advised the officer that the white SUV struck the sedan and the driver and sped off.

It is reported that later that evening, a second officer observed the defendant driving a white SUV of the same make and model as the one involved in the accident and made a traffic stop. When he approached the vehicle, the officer observed that the defendant smelled of marijuana, his eyes were glazed over, and he was lethargic. The officer observed that the SUV had damage consistent with the earlier accident, and after questioning the defendant, arrested him for DUI. The defendant filed a motion to suppress the evidence obtained during the stop, but his motion was denied. He was convicted, after which he appealed. Continue reading

People who are found guilty of committing acts of domestic violence may be subject to no-contact orders, which generally prohibit them from speaking to or otherwise contacting their victims. A person that disregards a no-contact order may face felony charges. The State must prove that an individual charged with felony violation of a domestic violence no-contact order was both aware of the order and willfully violated its terms in order to obtain a conviction, as discussed in a recent Washington ruling. If you are charged with a crime of domestic violence, it is prudent to speak to a Washington domestic violence defense attorney regarding your rights.

Charges Against the Defendant

It is reported that the defendant and the victim had an on-again-off-again romantic relationship since 2009. At some point, a domestic violence no-contact order was issued barring the defendant from contacting the victim. In March 2015, the defendant was found guilty of violating the order, and the court entered a second order that prohibited him from contacting the victim for five years.

Allegedly, in November 2018, the defendant asked the victim to meet him. They were subsequently caught by the police in a car parked behind a store. The woman initially provided the police with a fake name but eventually revealed her identity. The defendant gave the police his proper name. He was subsequently charged with and convicted of a felony violation of a domestic violence no-contact order. He appealed, arguing the State had insufficient evidence that he was aware of the order. Continue reading

People charged with weapons crimes in Washington may face significant penalties. In some instances, it is within the discretion of the sentencing court to determine whether the circumstances warrant a lesser sentence than called for by the guidelines. Extraordinary sentences will only be granted in certain circumstances, though, as demonstrated in a recent Washington ruling. If you are accused of committing a crime involving a firearm, it is advisable to meet with a knowledgeable Washington weapons charge defense attorney to discuss your options.

The Defendant’s Conviction and Sentence

It is reported that the defendant was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and robbery with a firearm enhancement. He pleaded guilty to both charges. He was nineteen years old at the time he committed the offenses. Thus, during the sentencing hearing, he requested that he receive an exceptional sentence due to his youth. For the base sentence, the trial court imposed a sentence of fifty-four months imprisonment, which was below the standard range. For the firearm enhancement, though, the court found that it did not have the discretion to reduce the standard sentence or to allow it to run at the same time as the base sentence and sentenced the defendant to sixty additional months in prison. The defendant then appealed.

Discretion in Sentencing for Convictions of Firearm Charges

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling. The court was not persuaded by the defendant’s argument that the trial court failed to acknowledge its discretion to reduce the length of the firearm enhancement or to permit it to run at the same time as the base sentence, as an exceptional sentence based on the defendant’s youth. Instead, the court noted that it recently ruled on the precise issue at hand, nothing that trial courts do not have the authority to impose an exceptional downward sentence for a firearm enhancement, in cases in which the defendant was not a juvenile at the time the crime was committed.

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Typically, when a crime is committed, the police do not actually witness the offense and must rely on eyewitness reports and other evidence to attempt to identify a defendant. Mere suspicion alone is not sufficient to arrest a person, however, as the police must have probable cause to believe that a person committed a criminal offense prior to taking a person into custody. What constitutes probable cause was the topic of a recent Washington opinion issued by a court in a case in which the defendant appealed his conviction for assault and other crimes on the basis that his arrest was improper. If you are charged with assault, it is in your best interest to speak to a skillful Washington assault defense attorney to evaluate your rights.

Factual History

It is alleged that in November 2017, the victim called 911 and reported that the defendant, who was her boyfriend, came into her apartment, struck her in the face, and held a gun to her stomach while threatening to kill her unborn baby. The victim exited the apartment, which the police then surrounded, ordering the defendant to come out with his hands up.

It is reported that the defendant did not come out of the apartment but was arrested shortly thereafter behind the apartment next door. He was charged with assault and other crimes. A jury convicted him, after which he appealed, arguing in part that the police lacked probable cause to arrest him and therefore his arrest and conviction were unlawful. The court disagreed and affirmed his conviction.

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People convicted of crimes of domestic violence are often prohibited from interacting with their victims via domestic violence no-contact orders. Thus, if a person subject to a no-contact order subsequently contacts the victim, it may result in additional criminal charges. While a no-contact order must be valid to be enforceable, there are specific parameters for objecting to an order as improper. The failure to comply with the correct procedural process can result in the waiver of rights, as demonstrated in a recent Washington ruling. If you are accused of violating a no-contact order or committing another crime of domestic violence, it is advisable to meet with a Washington domestic violence defense attorney to assess your options.

The Defendant’s Alleged Violation

Allegedly, the defendant was convicted of fourth-degree assault, which was a crime of domestic violence in October 2017. The court issued a five-year domestic violence no-contact order, barring the defendant from interacting with the victim either indirectly or directly or being within 500 feet of her. The defendant continued to contact the victim regardless, however.

It is reported that in January 2018 and March 2018, incidents occurred in which the defendant assaulted the victim. During the second incident, he took her purse as well. He was subsequently charged with two felony violations of the domestic violence no-contact order and robbery. Following a trial, the jury convicted the defendant, and he was sentenced to five years in prison. He then appealed, arguing in part that the no-contact order was invalid.

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While criminal defendants can be charged with multiple crimes that are similar, they cannot be charged numerous times for the same offense. Thus, if a defendant is charged with different degrees of unlawful possession of a firearm for a single uninterrupted act, it may constitute a violation of the right against double jeopardy. This was the topic of a recent Washington ruling in which the court vacated one of a defendant’s two convictions for the same act. If you are charged with a weapons crime, it is in your best interest to speak to a Washington weapons charge defense attorney to determine your rights.

The Defendant’s Charges

It is reported that while the defendant was being arrested for the possession of marijuana as a minor, a handgun fell out of his pocket. He had previous convictions that prohibited him from possessing a weapon. Thus, he was charged with two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm, one first-degree charge, and one second-degree. He was convicted on both counts, after which he appealed, arguing his convictions violated double jeopardy.

Double Jeopardy with Regards to Weapons Charges

Pursuant to the United States and Washington Constitutions, no person can be put in jeopardy twice for the same offense. This is known as the prohibition against double jeopardy, and it prohibits the State from imposing numerous punishments for the same crime. If a defendant is convicted of violating one law multiple times, each conviction can only withstand analysis under double jeopardy standards if each one is a separate unit of prosecution.

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In a criminal case, it is the prosecution’s duty to try to convince the jury that the defendant is guilty of the charged offenses. The prosecution must remain within the confines of the law, however, and cannot introduce evidence or testimony that is improper, as it may be prejudicial and result in an unjust verdict. Recently, a Washington court discussed what constitutes an improper and harmful statement in a case in which the defendant was convicted of multiple crimes, including assault. If you are accused of assault, it is advisable to meet with a Washington assault defense attorney to determine your options.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was raised by the victim, who was his grandmother. As he grew older, their relationship deteriorated. He ultimately moved out and went to live with the victim’s former romantic partner. One evening he entered the victim’s home and injected drugs into his arm. The victim told him to leave, after which the defendant held a gun to her head, stating he would kill her. He then struck the victim in the head with the gun.

It is reported that the victim and another individual were found dead. The defendant was charged with numerous crimes, including assault and murder, to which he pleaded not guilty. During its closing statement, the prosecution directed the jury that it should feel right in the gut, heart, and head to find the defendant guilty. The defendant was convicted, after which he appealed, arguing that the statements were prejudicial and amounted to prosecutorial misconduct.

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In many cases in which a person is convicted of a domestic violence crime, the court will issue a no-contact order, prohibiting the person from contacting his or her victim. The failure to comply with a no-contact order constitutes a crime. Additionally, a person that repeatedly violates no-contact orders could face felony charges. Recently, a Washington court set forth a ruling in which it discussed what constitutes adequate evidence of repeated violations of no contact orders, in a case in which the defendant appealed his felony conviction. If you are charged with a crime of domestic violence, it is in your best interest to speak to a trusted Washington domestic violence defense attorney to assess your rights.

Factual and Procedural History

It is alleged that a no-contact order was in place that prohibited the defendant from contacting or being within 500 feet of his parents. The defendant’s father called the police to report that the defendant was in his shed. When the police arrived, they affirmed that the no-contact order was in place and found the defendant in the shed as his father described. He was arrested and charged with violating the no-contact order. As it was the defendant’s third violation of a no-contact order, it was charged as a felony. The defendant was convicted, after which he appealed, arguing the State failed to produce sufficient evidence of prior violations. On appeal, the court affirmed his conviction.

Evidence of Violations of a No-Contact Order

In order to prove that the defendant’s violation of the no-contact order constituted a felony, the State was required to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant committed violations of no-contact orders on two prior occasions. To determine whether evidence is sufficient, an appellate court must examine whether a rational factfinder would determine that the defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt when viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the State.

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People convicted of felonies often lose the right to own weapons, and the mere act of possessing a firearm can result in significant penalties. The State must prove each element of a charged firearm offense through competent evidence, though, and if it cannot, it should not be able to obtain a conviction. Recently, a Washington court assessed what constitutes sufficient proof of possession of a real firearm, in an opinion arising out of an appeal of an unlawful possession conviction. If you are accused of illegally owning a gun, it is in your best interest to consult a skilled Washington weapons charge defense attorney to assess your rights.

The Defendant’s Arrest and Trial

It is reported that a police officer approached a car that was parked in a closed parking lot. There were two people sitting in the front seats, and the defendant was sitting alone in the back seat. The officer noticed a semiautomatic weapon on the floor of the car by the defendant’s feet. The defendant would not keep his hands in view, after which he was removed from the car. The officer obtained consent to search the vehicle and retrieved the gun.

Allegedly, he then obtained a warrant and found a holster for the gun under a blanket in the backseat, illicit substances, and paraphernalia related to the sale of illegal drugs. The defendant was charged with multiple gun and drug crimes. He was convicted, after which he appealed, arguing in part that there was insufficient evidence to prove that he was in possession of an actual firearm.

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Firearm convictions can result in the loss of significant liberties. As with any criminal matter, though, the State must prove each element of the charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction, and if it does not, it may constitute a violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights. Recently, a Washington state court issued a ruling in which it explained what is considered adequate evidence to establish unlawful possession of a firearm in a case in which the defendant sought relief from personal restraint following convictions for multiple crimes. If you are charged with a weapons crime, it is advisable to meet with a trusted Washington gun crime defense attorney to discuss your possible defenses.

The Defendant’s Allegations

It is reported that in 2017, the defendant was convicted of three counts of assault and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm. Personal restraint was imposed following his convictions. In 2020, the defendant sought relief from his personal restraint, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to prove he was guilty of unlawful possession of a firearm and that his conviction and the firearm enhancements on his assault convictions violated his protections against double jeopardy. The court ultimately rejected the defendant’s arguments and denied his request for relief.

Evidence Sufficient to Establish Guilt in Gun Crime Cases

First, the court discussed the defendant’s allegations that the evidence was insufficient to prove his guilt with regard to the firearm charge. The court explained that evidence in criminal cases is sufficient to prove culpability if, after it is viewed in the light most favorable to the State, any rational factfinder could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that the elements of a crime were present.

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