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DNA-217x300Under Washington law, law enforcement agencies have the duty to collect DNA samples from certain criminal defendants. If a criminal defendant refuses to submit to an agency’s request for a DNA sample, they may be compelled by the courts to comply. This was demonstrated in a recent case in which a defendant charged with an assault crime argued she should not have to comply with DNA identification. If you are accused of an assault offense, it is important to know and understand your rights, and you should confer with a Tacoma assault defense attorney promptly.

Background of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with first-degree assault. She entered a guilty plea and was convicted. Following her conviction, she was directed to provide a biological sample for purposes of DNA identification analysis. She appealed, arguing that the State already had her DNA as she had been convicted of felonies before.

DNA Identification of Criminal Defendants in Washington

The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s order compelling the defendant to provide a DNA sample. The appellate court adopted the state’s argument that the defendant’s appeal was moot. Specifically, the court noted that the Department of Corrections collected the defendant’s DNA shortly after she was sentenced, therefore removing the appellate court’s ability to provide effective relief for the alleged legal error. Continue reading

shoplift-200x300Muchas personas consideran que hurtar mercancía de tiendas es un hurto menor que otros. Después de todo, el acusado de hurto en una tienda tenía derecho a entrar al establecimiento y la mercancía puede no ser de gran valor. Sin embargo, la ley de Washington no lo ve necesariamente así. Aun cuando otros estados distinguen entre hurto de mercancía de tiendas (shoplifting en la ley estadounidense) y otros hurtos (theft en la ley estadounidense) para nuestro estado, no hay diferencia. Un hurto es un hurto, pase donde pase, se hurte lo que se hurte.

La ley del estado de Washington (enlace en inglés) define al hurto como:

  • Incorrectamente obtener o ejercer control sin autorización sobre la propiedad o servicios de otro o su valor, con intención de privarle de dicha propiedad o servicios.
  • Engañar para obtener control sobre la propiedad o servicios de otro con intención de privarle de dicha propiedad o servicios.
  • Apropiarse de propiedad perdida o mal distribuida de otro, o su valor, con intención de privarle de dicha propiedad o servicios.

Como mencionamos anteriormente, que a usted se le acuse de un hurto (enlace en inglés) ocurrido en una tienda no cambia las cosas. Las consecuencias no dependerán del lugar sino del valor de la mercancía en cuestión.

Aún si Pablo y Pedro hurtan objetos de la misma tienda, si Pablo hurta un objeto que vale $2000 y Pedro uno que vale $500, Pablo enfrentará cargos de hurto como delito grave en segundo grado y Pedro hurto como delito menor en tercer grado.

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liar-liar-1-231x300“…the Draeger [breath test machine for DUIs] has generated tens of thousands of breath test result[s] … since 2010 in non-compliance with … WAC 448.16.060.” Judge Jahns, on behalf of all the Judges of Kitsap District Court.

The entire Kitsap Distict Court bench has spoken.  All four judges agree.  All Draeger breath test devices have not complied with the law since their inception.  We are talking tens of thousands of breath tests since 2010.  If you have a driving under the influence (DUI) case then contact the Tacoma DUI lawyers at Smith & White, PLLC.  The reasoning of the court is simple.  To summarize their decision:  1) the toxicologist was allowed to make reasonable rules about what is required for a valid test,  2)she created a rule that said the results should be rounded, 3) she had control over the machine’s software,  4) she required that the machine truncate, and not round,  5) she knows, or should have known, that in the scientific community truncate and round have different, specific meanings,  6) she knows, or should have known, that for scientific reliability of the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that the same procedure should be used in both, 7) Likewise, she knew or should have known that the procedure the machine used needed to follow the administrative code that she created, and 8) she or her various subordinates then sworn, in thousands of cases, that the machine was following the code, i.e., that the machine was rounding and not truncating.

To make matters worse the Impaired Driving Section of the Washington State Patrol (WSP) Forensic Laboratory Services Bureau then sent out a deceptive letter addressing the issue.  The Kitsap court determined that a number of the assertions in the letter were “false or misleading.”  The letter, entitled “Potential Impeachment Disclosure” was false or misleading in a number of ways.  She said that the Impaired Driving Section was notified June 3rd, 2021 that the Draeger potentially failed to comply with the Washington Administrative Code (WAC).  However, the court found that they actually knew since the Draeger was approved in 2010.  Also, that it “potentially” failed to comply with the WAC was similarly misleading as they knew that it had never complied with the WAC.  Similarly, she was false or misleading when she said that this information was coming to light per the “Initial investigation.”  Again, her office was on notice of this issue since its inception over a decade prior.

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she-running-away-300x200En casos penales, el estado tiene la carga de la prueba. Específicamente, para probar la culpabilidad de un acusado penal, el estado debe establecer cada elemento del delito imputado más allá de una duda razonable. En muchos casos, esto significa que el estado tiene que probar que el acusado actuó con intención. En tales casos, si el acusado es condenado a pesar de la falta de pruebas de que actuó a sabiendas, su condena puede ser revocada. Esto se ilustró recientemente en un asunto de Washington en el que el tribunal determinó que el estado no pudo probar que el acusado violó a sabiendas su orden de no contacto por violencia doméstica. Si lo acusan de un delito de violencia doméstica, es inteligente ponerse en contacto con un abogado defensor de violencia doméstica de Tacoma con respecto a sus posibles defensas.

Historia del Caso

Se informa que el acusado estaba sujeto a una orden de no contacto por violencia doméstica que le impedía acercarse a 500 pies de la casa de su esposa separada. En septiembre de 2020, el vecino de la esposa vio al acusado caminando en su patio trasero. El vecino se acercó al acusado para preguntarle qué estaba haciendo en su propiedad. En lugar de responder, el acusado comenzó a correr y luego corrió frente al tráiler de su esposa separada.

man-running-away-225x300In criminal cases, the state bears the burden of proof. Specifically, in order to prove a criminal defendant’s guilt, the state must establish each element of the charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt. In many instances, this means that the state has to prove the defendant acted with intent. In such cases, if the defendant is convicted despite a lack of evidence that they acted knowingly, their conviction may be reversed. This was illustrated recently in a Washington matter in which the court found that the state failed to prove that the defendant knowingly violated his domestic violence no-contact order. If you are charged with a crime of domestic violence, it is smart to contact a Tacoma domestic violence defense lawyer regarding your potential defenses.

History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was subject to a domestic violence no-contact order that prevented him from coming within 500 feet of his estranged wife’s home. In September 2020, the wife’s neighbor saw the defendant walking in his backyard. The neighbor approached the defendant to ask him what he was doing on his property. Instead of responding, the defendant began to run and subsequently ran in front of his estranged wife’s trailer.

It is alleged that following the incident, the defendant was charged with numerous crimes, including felony violation of the domestic violence no-contact order. He waived his right to a jury trial, and the case proceeded to a bench trial. The court found that there was sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he knowingly violated the terms of his no-contact order. Thus, he was convicted. He then appealed. Continue reading

Speedy-Trial-243x300Criminal defendants have numerous rights under the state and federal constitutions, including the right to a speedy trial. If their constitutional rights are violated, it may provide grounds for vacating their convictions. Not all trial delays are deemed constitutional violations, however, as demonstrated in a recent Washington opinion issued in a matter in which the defendant appealed his conviction for assault. If you are accused of an assault offense, it is advisable to speak to a Tacoma assault defense lawyer about your rights.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with second degree assault in January 2020, following an incident that occurred earlier in the month. He was arraigned two weeks later, and his trial was scheduled for May 2020. His trial was continued nine times, and he was not actually tried for over a year, however. The trial delays were attributed, in part, to the COVID-19 pandemic. He was found guilty of a lesser charge, after which he appealed, arguing that the state violated his right to a speedy trial.

The Right to a Speedy Trial

The United States and Washington Constitutions both protect criminal defendants’ right to a speedy trial. The court clarified that the analysis of speedy trial rights is substantially the same under both Constitutions. Specifically, the right to a speedy trial arises when a defendant is charged with a crime or arrested, whichever occurs first. Further, if their right to a speedy trial is violated, they are entitled to the dismissal of the charges against them with prejudice. Continue reading

Carl-Sagan-high-300x300Under Washington law, it is legal for people to use marijuana recreationally. However, they must abide by certain restrictions and laws regarding the safe use of marijuana. If they do not, they may be charged with crimes. This was illustrated recently in a Washington ruling issued in a DUI case in which the court rejected the defendant’s assertion that he had a constitutional right to use marijuana without restriction. If you are charged with a DUI crime, it is smart to speak to a dedicated Tacoma DUI defense attorney at Smith and White, PLLC regarding your rights as soon as possible.

Factual Background of the Case

It is reported that pursuant to Washington law, people can be convicted of DUI if, within two hours after driving, they have a THC concentration that is 5.00 nanograms per milliliter or higher, as illustrated by an analysis of their blood. The defendant was charged with and convicted of violating the marijuana DUI law after it was determined that his blood THC level was 9.4 nanograms per milliliter within two hours of driving. He appealed, arguing that the prong of the DUI statute regulating marijuana use was unconstitutionally vague and overbroad and was not a legitimate exercise of the legislature’s police power.

DUI Charges Arising Out of Marijuana Use

The appellate court rejected the defendant’s reasoning and affirmed his conviction. It explained that laws passed by the people through initiatives, like the DUI marijuana provisions, are presumed to be constitutional, and those individuals challenging the constitutionality of a law bear the burden of proving their position beyond a reasonable doubt. A party meets this burden if the research and arguments show that there is no reasonable doubt that the law violates the constitution. Continue reading

Punching-174x300El derecho penal estadounidense utiliza con frecuencia la palabra “assault”. La traducción más literal al español podría definir a la palabra como “asalto”, y a modo más genérico como “agresión” o “ataque”.

A cualquier hispano hablante, la palabra inmediatamente le traerá asociación con violencia durante atracos o invasiones armadas, incluso muchos países latinoamericanos utilizan la palabra casi exclusivamente para referirse a ataques con armas, frecuentemente a robos.

Sin embargo, para la ley del estado de Washington la definición es muchísimo más amplia. Específicamente se clasifica a las agresiones en cuatro grados (enlace en inglés).

JohnnyGenerally, Washington law prohibits prosecutors from using hearsay evidence to attempt to establish a defendant’s guilt. The law permits the introduction of hearsay evidence for other purposes, however. Further, even if hearsay evidence is improperly introduced at a criminal trial, the error may not constitute sufficient grounds for overturning a guilty verdict. This was demonstrated in a recent ruling in which a court rejected a defendant’s appeal of his assault conviction even though the prosecution offered improper hearsay evidence at trial. If you are accused of assault, you may face significant penalties, and it is wise to speak to a Tacoma assault defense attorney at the Law Offices of Smith & White, PLLC to evaluate your possible defenses.

History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant and the victim became romantically involved shortly after the victim moved to Washington. One evening, they were spending time together at the defendant’s apartment when the victim received a text message from a male friend. The defendant saw the message and became angry, and the two began to argue. The disagreement became physical, and the defendant held the victim down, put his arms around her neck, and threatened to kill her.

It is alleged that the victim lost consciousness. When she awoke, the defendant kicked her in the head and prevented her from leaving. She left the next day and went to the hospital. The defendant was ultimately charged with and convicted of second-degree assault and other offenses. He appealed, arguing, among other things, that the trial court erred in allowing the prosecution to admit medical records that contained inadmissible hearsay. Continue reading

hidden-guns-300x176The state and federal constitutions generally protect people from unreasonable searches, which means, in part, that absent exigent circumstances the police must have a warrant to conduct a search of a person’s body or property. If a police officer seeks a warrant to search a property based on information from an informant, their request should only be granted if they demonstrate probable cause to believe that the items in question will be found on the property. Recently, a Washington court discussed what constitutes probable cause in a case in which the defendant appealed his unlawful possession of a firearm conviction. If you are charged with a weapons crime, it is in your best interest to talk to a Tacoma weapons charge defense lawyer at Smith & White, PLLC as soon as possible.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with unlawful possession of firearms and other offenses after police found weapons in his apartment during a search pursuant to a warrant. The police sought the warrant after receiving information from a confidential informant indicating that the defendant was selling illicit substances and had weapons in his possession, which was unlawful because he was a convicted felon. The case proceeded to trial, and the defendant was convicted on all counts. He appealed, arguing in part that the warrant was not supported by probable cause.

Probable Cause for Issuing Warrants

The Washington and United States Constitutions dictate that search warrants will be issued upon a finding of probable cause. The appellate court explained that probable cause is present when the affidavit in support of a warrant sets forth facts and circumstances that are adequate to establish a reasonable inference that the defendant is most likely engaged in criminal activity and that evidence of their unlawful behavior may be found at a specific location. Continue reading

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