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Court Explains Sufficiency of Evidence in Washington Firearm Theft Case

On Behalf of | May 30, 2019 | Firearms

In any case in which the State charges a defendant with theft of a firearm, the State must introduce adequate evidence of the charge to support a conviction. If a defendant is subsequently convicted and appeals on the grounds of insufficient evidence, the defendant effectively admits the truth of the State’s evidence but argues the evidence introduced by the State was insufficient to support a conviction. This was explained in a recent Washington appellate court case in which the court affirmed the defendant’s convictions for burglary and theft of a firearm. If you are charged with theft of a firearm or any other weapons charge it is critical to engage a knowledgeable Washington weapons charge defense attorney to help you develop a strong defense.

Factual Background of the Case

Allegedly, the defendant and his girlfriend lived in a shed on a female friend’s property. The defendant rented a storage unit, in which he and his girlfriend and female friend stored their belongings and stolen property. Shortly after the defendant began renting the unit, someone broke into three other storage units in the same property. A six-foot high fence surrounded the property, and an access code was required to open the gate. An investigation revealed that the defendant’s unique code had been used to enter the property ten times over three days.

It is further reported that security footage showed the defendant and his female friend exiting a car near the storage units that were robbed. One of the storage units that was burglarized held a gun safe that contained eight firearms. All of the firearms were missing following the burglary, and none were recovered. The defendant was charged with two counts of burglary, theft of a firearm, and unlawful possession of a firearm. The defendant was convicted of all charges except unlawful possession of a firearm. He subsequently appealed, arguing there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction.

Review of Sufficiency of the Evidence

In any case where a defendant argues the evidence is insufficient to support a conviction, the court views the evidence in a light most favorable to the State, to assess whether any rational finder of fact could have found sufficient evidence of the elements of the crime alleged, to convict the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. The court explained that when a defendant alleges insufficient evidence, he or she admits the truth of the evidence submitted and any reasonable inferences that can be made from the evidence, but argues any evidence or inference is not enough to support a conviction. Further, any inferences will be construed in favor of the State and against the defendant.

Upon review of the evidence submitted in the subject case, the court found that the evidence was adequate to support the defendant’s conviction, rejecting the defendant’s argument that because there was no direct evidence of the crimes, he could not be convicted. Specifically, the court found that the State presented evidence, including testimony from the defendant’s female friend, that the defendant stole a gun safe, pried it open, and removed the guns. As such, the court affirmed the defendant’s conviction.

Speak with a Skilled Washington Weapons Charges Defense Attorney

If you are charged with theft of a firearm or another weapons charge it is in your best interest to speak with a skilled Washington weapons charges defense attorney regarding the circumstances surrounding your arrest and your available defenses. The proficient weapons charge defense attorneys of the Law Offices of Smith & White will work diligently to help you seek the most favorable outcome possible under the unique facts of your case. You can contact us at 253-363-8662 or via our online form to set up a confidential and expert consultation to discuss your case.