In Washington, when a person is charged with a weapons crime, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person committed each element of the offense. Typically, the prosecution will rely on circumstantial evidence, such as statements regarding the defendant’s whereabouts or discussions with the defendant regarding the weapons in order to prove its case. Thus, if a defendant can attack the validity of the prosecution’s evidence, it may weaken its case, but such efforts are not always successful. This was demonstrated in a recent Washington case in which the court affirmed the defendant’s convictions for firearm-related offenses despite the defendant’s arguments that the prosecution’s evidence should have been precluded at trial. If you are charged with unlawfully owning or possessing a firearm, it is advisable to speak with a skillful Washington gun crime defense attorney to discuss your case.
Facts of the Case
It is reported that the defendant was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm as well as with being a felon in possession of ammunition, both of which were federal crimes. Following his trial, he was convicted by a jury. He then appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence found during a search of his home and in admitting evidence of his prior bad acts. The appellate court denied the defendant’s appeal, affirming his conviction.
Evidence Admissible at a Trial for Weapons Charges
First, the court explained that the officer’s entry into the defendant’s home was lawful as it was done in response to a 911 call. Further, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that the officer did not have authority to enter his home or search the surrounding hillside for weapons, and that the evidence found during the search should be suppressed.
Specifically, the court explained that the law permitted the officer to conduct a protective sweep, which is a cursory inspection of the places a person might be found. As the defendant told the officer that an armed militia member was in the area, it warranted a reasonably prudent officer in the area to believe the area harbors a dangerous individual. As the officer was within his authority in performing the sweep, he could also seize incriminating evidence that was found in plain sight.
Further, the court found that the trial court did not err in allowing evidence of the defendant’s pistol-whipping of his ex-girlfriend prior to committing the alleged offense to be introduced at trial. The court explained that such evidence was inextricably intertwined with the charged offense and therefore was both relevant and permissible. As such, the defendant’s conviction was affirmed.
Speak with a Skillful Washington Attorney
In some instances, even if a defendant engaged in acts that may meet the elements of a crime, he or she will nonetheless be able to offer a compelling defense. If you are charged with a gun crime, the skillful weapons charge defense attorneys of The Law Offices of Smith & White have the knowledge and experience needed to help you strive for just results, and we will fight tirelessly on your behalf. We can be contacted via our online form or at 253-363-8662 to set up a meeting.