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In any Washington criminal case, there are procedural and evidentiary rules with which both the State and the defendant must comply. If a defendant is convicted based on evidence introduced by the State at trial that lacks a proper foundation or was improperly obtained it can result in a reversal of a conviction. A Washington Court of Appeals recently addressed the issue of whether the evidentiary rule of corpus delecti applies in a case in which the defendant entered a guilty plea for robbery in the first degree with a firearm enhancement. If you are a resident of Washington and are currently charged with a crime that includes a firearm enhancement it is important to meet with a skillful Washington weapons charge defense attorney to discuss the impact the firearm enhancement may have on your case and what evidence the State needs to obtain a conviction.

Factual Background of the Case

Reportedly, in November 2015, the defendant and another person broke into the home of an elderly man with the intent of robbing the man. Upon entering the home, one of them forced the elderly man to the ground, pointed a gun at him and demanded he relinquish his property, while the other person searched the property. The defendant and his co-conspirator ultimately left the elderly man’s home with a substantial amount of property, after which they were arrested. The defendant was charged with first-degree robbery with a firearm enhancement, first-degree burglary, and unlawful imprisonment.

It is alleged that the defendant’s attorney advised the defendant that he would probably lose if the case proceeded to trial and would receive a substantial sentence. Thus, the defendant pleaded guilty, advising the court that he entered his plea knowingly and voluntarily. The defendant subsequently appealed his conviction, arguing in part that his conviction violated the corpus delecti rule.
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In Washington, a unanimous verdict is required to convict a defendant of assault. Thus, if less than all of the jurors agree as to whether a defendant committed the crime of assault, the defendant cannot be convicted. Although unanimity is required for a conviction, in cases where the defendant is charged with an alternative means crime, a unanimous finding as to the manner in which the crime was committed is not required to uphold a conviction. This was elucidated in a recent Washington appellate court case, in which the court affirmed the defendant’s conviction for assault in the second degree despite no unanimous finding as to how the assault was committed. If you live in Washington and are facing assault charges it is critical to confer with a trusted Washington assault defense attorney to discuss the facts of your case and what evidence the State may use against you.

Facts Regarding the Alleged Assault

Reportedly, the police met with the defendant’s wife who had bruises, black eyes, a disfigured nose, and a cauliflower ear. The defendant was subsequently charged with two counts of assault in the second degree, which is an alternative means crime, to which he pleaded not guilty. During the trial, numerous witnesses testified regarding the defendant’s alleged assault of his wife on several occasions, including the wife, the child of the defendant and his wife, and the wife’s treating physicians. The defendant was ultimately convicted of both charges. The defendant appealed, arguing that he was deprived of his right to a unanimous jury verdict because there was insufficient evidence of each of the charged means of committing assault in the second degree.

Jury Unanimity

Assault in the second degree is an alternative means crime, which means that although the statute defining the crime sets forth a single criminal offense, it delineates seven subsections as to how the offense may be committed. In the subject case, the defendant was charged with assault in the second degree committed by three alternative means. The defendant argued that the jury was required to agree unanimously as to the means used to commit the crime to support a conviction.
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It is the duty of the police to ensure the safety of the public as a whole. In performing their job duties, however, the police are not permitted to violate the rights of individual citizens. One of the rights afforded individuals is the right to be free from unlawful seizure. If a person is unlawfully stopped, anything found during the seizure, such as a weapon, should be precluded from evidence in any trial for charges arising out of the seizure. A Washington appellate court recently addressed what constitutes a seizure in a case in which the defendant was convicted of unlawful firearm possession due to evidence found during an unlawful seizure. If you are charged with a weapons crime it is important to know how a conviction may impact your liberties and to engage an assertive Washington weapons charge defense attorney to help you present a strong defense.

Facts Regarding the Stop

It is alleged that the police received a call at 2:00 am regarding a suspicious vehicle in an alley. The caller stated that an unfamiliar vehicle was parked at the end of a dead-end street with its lights off. Two police officers responded to the call, each in his own patrol car. The patrol cars drove down the alley, but the police did not activate the cars’ overhead lights. The officers parked their cars and by doing so blocked the vehicle. The officers then approached the vehicle with flashlights and found the defendant and a woman in the vehicle. The defendant and his companion provided the police with identification, and the defendant informed the officers that he owned the vehicle.

Reportedly, the officers were informed by dispatch that the defendant was a convicted felon but that he did not have any outstanding warrants. The officers then spotted a gun in the backseat of the vehicle and made the defendant exit the vehicle. The officers subsequently obtained a search warrant and removed a loaded gun from the back seat. The defendant was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm. Prior to the trial, he moved to suppress all evidence and statements due to unlawful seizure. Following a hearing, the trial court ruled that the seizure was based on a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, and therefore, was lawful. The defendant was convicted and sentenced to thirty-six months imprisonment, after which he appealed.

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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.

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