Articles Posted in Assault

A person does not lose their liberties simply because he or she is charged with a crime. Rather, under both state and federal law, criminal defendants are afforded with certain rights and protections, including the right to a speedy trial.

The Court of Appeals of Washington recently analyzed what constitutes a violation of the right to a speedy trial, in State v. Holcomb, a case where the defendant’s trial was delayed on several occasions. If you currently facing criminal charges, you should retain an experienced Washington criminal defense attorney to assist you in protecting your rights.

Factual Background

The defendant was charged with first and second-degree assault, both with firearm enhancements, violating a no-contact order, and tampering with a witness. He was subsequently tried and convicted of all charges. He then appealed, alleging in part, that the trial court violated the time for trial rule and his right to a speedy trial. On appeal, the court affirmed.

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In many criminal cases, whether a defendant is convicted of a greater or lesser offense depends on the state’s evidence against the defendant. As such, if you are charged with a crime, it is important to know what evidence the state intends to introduce against you and seek to exclude any prohibited evidence that may negatively affect your case.

In Washington v. Heyer, the Court of Appeals of the State of Washington affirmed a defendant’s conviction for third-degree assault, finding that testimony of a treating physician was not necessary to lay a foundation for a victim’s medical records to be admitted into evidence at trial. If you face assault charges, you should retain a skilled Washington criminal defense attorney to analyze the facts of your case and assist you in formulating a defense.

Factual Background

Allegedly, the defendant was at a car auction, where he bid on the same car as his victim. After the defendant won the car, the victim stated the defendant could use his commissary money to pay for the car, referring to the defendant’s prior imprisonment. In response, the defendant punched the victim in the face one or two times. The defendant was charged with second-degree assault. He waived his right to a jury and proceeded to a bench trial. During the trial the victim testified his nose would not stop bleeding following the assault and he was referred to a specialist due to a fracture. The defendant’s counsel objected to this testimony on the grounds that it was hearsay.

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Domestic violence no-contact orders are required to provide sufficient information to give notice to the party prohibited from contact of the terms of the prohibition. No-contact orders are not required to be exact, however, and a defendant can be convicted of violating an order even if some of the information is inaccurate.

For example, in State of Washington v. Michael Dwayne Harris, the Court of Appeals of the State of Washington upheld a conviction for violation of a no-contact order where the victim’s race was improperly identified, finding the order nonetheless provided sufficient notice to the defendant regarding who he was prohibited from contacting. If you are charged with a violation of a no-contact order, you should seek the assistance of an experienced Washington domestic violence defense attorney to assess what evidence the state may use against you.

Alleged Violation of the No-Contact Order

Allegedly, the defendant was prohibited from contacting a woman identified as his intimate partner via a domestic violence no-contact order (the Order). The Order also set forth the date of the woman’s birth and identified her as African-American. Four years after the order was issued, the defendant’s wife called the police to report the defendant assaulted her. The defendant was arrested, after which he admitted to being at his wife’s home but stated that she assaulted him. He also admitted there was a no-contact order that barred him from contacting his wife but he believed it had expired. The police then confirmed that the birthdate of the party protected by the Order was the same as the defendant’s wife’s birthdate. The defendant was charged with violating the Order.

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Under Washington law, evidence that a victim’s account of an alleged assault has remained consistent is inadmissible to corroborate the victim’s testimony. As outlined in Washington v. Kleinsmith, however, a failure to make a timely objection to inadmissible testimony will result in a waiver of the objection. In Kleinsmith, the Court of Appeals of the State of Washington upheld the defendant’s conviction for second-degree assault regardless of the fact the prosecutor introduced inadmissible testimony regarding the victim’s credibility, due to the defendant’s counsel’s failure to make a timely objection to the testimony. If you are charged with assault, it is essential to your defense to retain an experienced Washington assault defense attorney who will fight to have any inadmissible testimony precluded from evidence.

Facts of the Case

Reportedly, the defendant and her alleged victim were neighbors in an apartment building. The victim heard someone sag to “get out” as she walked past the defendant’s apartment, and when she turned around, she saw a woman with a butcher knife. The victim further alleged the woman began to chase her and screamed, “don’t come back.” The victim reported the incident to an employee in the building’s front office, who called the police.  The victim described her assailant as a blonde woman wearing a t-shirt and shorts. When the police arrived, the building employee advised them that the defendant matched the physical description of the assailant.

Allegedly, the police repeatedly knocked on the defendant’s door, but she would not answer. The police eventually opened the defendant’s apartment with a key. When they entered the apartment, the defendant came from the back of the apartment and advised she was sleeping. The defendant was arrested and informed of her Miranda rights, after which she requested an attorney. She asked the officers to retrieve items from her apartment, and one of the officers noticed a large knife by the kitchen sink. As the defendant was escorted from the building, the victim advised the officers she was “one hundred percent” sure that the defendant was her assailant. The defendant did not testify at the trial. The building employee and arresting officer both testified and stated the victim’s story remained consistent. The defendant was convicted of assault in the second degree, after which she appealed.

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Under Washington law, self-defense is a valid defense to an assault charge. If a jury is not properly instructed on the law regarding self-defense, however, a defendant may be improperly convicted. In Washington v. Backemeyer, the Court of Appeals of the State of Washington overturned the Defendant’s conviction for assault and granted him a new trial after finding the defense counsel performed deficiently in failing to ensure the jury received a proper self-defense instruction, which was prejudicial to the Defendant. If you face assault charges, it is essential to your case to retain an attorney who is well-versed in the defenses to the crime you are charged with and can adequately convey the defenses to the jury. You should consult a seasoned Washington assault defense attorney to discuss your options.

Facts of the Case

Allegedly, in Backemeyer, the Defendant was in a bar when he was asked to leave by an individual who identified himself as a bouncer. The Defendant told the bouncer to leave him alone and began pushing the bouncer, after which the bouncer pushed the Defendant to the floor and got on top of him. The Defendant, who was significantly smaller than the bouncer, pulled out a knife and began cutting the bouncer. The Defendant was subsequently charged with first-degree assault with a deadly weapon. During the trial, the Defendant testified he was afraid of being seriously injured and was acting in self-defense, and that he did not know the bouncer was a bar employee.

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In criminal cases in Washington, there are several elements against which you must defend if you’re accused of a crime. One of these is the imposition of a legal financial obligation (LFO) or monetary cost. In order to be obligated to pay, however, the court must provide a statute that specifically authorizes the LFO. In one man’s assault case, the Washington Court of Appeals decided that his LFO was improper because he did not commit any of the underlying crimes listed by the statute as requirements.

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law booksA recent opinion from the Washington Court of Appeals offers an important reminder about the significance of lesser included offenses in a criminal trial. In this recent case, a man was able to get a conviction overturned because fourth-degree assault was a lesser included offense, but the trial judge refused to give the jury the instruction on fourth-degree assault that the accused man requested.

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In criminal law, there are certain issues in which the defendant’s state of mind or knowledge are vitally important matters to determining his level of guilt. In other areas, the defendant’s mental state is completely irrelevant. This distinction is what unraveled one Navy seaman’s defense against a charge of assault on a police officer. The seaman sought a self-defense jury instruction, based upon his alleged lack of knowledge that the man detaining him was a police officer. The Washington Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s ruling because, in the seaman’s case, it didn’t matter what he did or didn’t know about the officer. It only mattered that the officer’s detainment of him was lawful, which the seaman did not contest.

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cell phoneIn an important new ruling from the Washington Court of Appeals that shows just how broad the state’s electronic surveillance law is, the appeals court threw out an attempted murder conviction against a husband whose threats to kill his wife were accidentally recorded on a cell phone’s voicemail application. Even though no third person was involved in secretly recording the exchange, the fact was that neither the husband nor the wife had consented to being recorded, which triggered the electronic surveillance law and made the recording inadmissible in the husband’s trial.

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police officerA famous song from the 1960s, borrowing from Jewish and Christian scriptures, states that there is a “time to every purpose under heaven.” Encounters with police can be like that. Which is to say, when interacting with the police, there is a time to be very forthcoming, and there is a time to refrain from speaking. Suffice it to say, whatever the specifics of your situation may be, the first thing you say when you encounter a law enforcement officer should probably not be, “I did it.” One man from southwestern Washington made that mistake in his case, a case in which the Washington Court of Appeals upheld his conviction.

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