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Articles Posted in Assault

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

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

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

Woman-black-background-213x300In Washington criminal matters, the prosecution bears the burden of proving the defendant’s guilt. Specifically, the State must produce sufficient evidence to demonstrate, beyond a reasonable doubt, each element of the charged offense. If it cannot, the defendant should be deemed not guilty. Recently, a Washington court discussed what evidence is needed to prove a defendant committed an assault offense in a case in which the State charged the defendant with more than forty crimes. If you are accused of assault, it is in your best interest to speak to a Washington assault defense attorney to assess your options for seeking a just outcome.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant and the victim began dating in March 2016. Shortly after they began dating, the defendant advised the victim that he would leave his girlfriend if the victim would prostitute herself for money. The victim began posting prostitution ads and going on prostitution calls and gave the money she earned to the defendant.

Allegedly, after the victim became a prostitute, the defendant began to hit, cut, burn, and sexually abuse her. He threatened to kill her if she did not do as he directed or attempted to leave him. In January 2018, the State charged the defendant with 45 separate criminal offenses, including second-degree assault. He was convicted on over forty counts, including the assault charges, and he appealed, arguing the State lacked sufficient evidence to prove his guilt. Continue reading

After a person is charged with a criminal offense, the court will conduct various hearings, including one in which the defendant is asked to enter a plea. While a person’s first inclination is usually to plead not guilty, in some cases, it makes sense to enter a guilty plea. Even if pleading guilty is the best strategy, it is not a decision to be made lightly, as it can have significant ramifications. Thus, the court must ensure that a defendant who wishes to enter a guilty plea is making an educated and consensual decision to do so; otherwise, the plea may be deemed involuntary. The criteria for establishing an involuntary guilty plea were the topic of a recent Washington ruling in a case in which the defendant was convicted of assault. If you are accused of assault, it is wise to speak to a Washington assault defense lawyer to evaluate your options.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with numerous crimes relating to the death of the victim. After the charges had been pending for over a year, the State filed an amended information with nine charges, including first-degree assault with a firearm. Several months later, the defendant agreed to plead guilty to a count of second-degree assault and a count of first-degree manslaughter.

Allegedly, the defendant provided a written statement at the plea hearing that asserted he was guilty of second-degree assault because he assaulted the victim. The court reviewed the plea statement with the defendant and confirmed that he had reviewed it with his attorney. Thus, the defendant was found guilty as charged. He later appealed, arguing that his plea was involuntary. Continue reading

Generally, juvenile offenders are treated differently than adults, and in many instances, criminal proceedings involving minor offenders are handled by juvenile courts. Serious crimes are often handled by adult criminal courts, though, and typically a conviction in adult court will carry more significant penalties. Recently, a Washington court issued an opinion discussing whether a minor criminal defendant has the right to have his or her case heard in juvenile court, in a matter in which the defendant appealed his conviction for assault when he was a minor. If you are charged with assault, it is important to speak to a trusted Washington assault defense lawyer to determine your options.

History of the Case

Reportedly, the defendant was charged with first-degree assault when he was 16. As it was considered a serious and violent offense, the jurisdiction of the juvenile court was automatically declined, and the case was assigned to adult criminal court pursuant to Washington law. The defendant and the State subsequently reached a plea agreement, under which the charges were reduced to second-degree assault, which is a crime that is not subject to the automatic declination of the juvenile court’s jurisdiction.

It is alleged that the defendant did not waive the right to juvenile jurisdiction, and the court did not hold a declination hearing. The defendant ultimately pleaded guilty and was sentenced to nine months in prison, followed by twelve months of community supervision. Twenty-three years later, the defendant filed a motion for relief from the judgment, arguing that because it was not entered in juvenile court, it was facially invalid. The court denied his motion. Continue reading

It is not uncommon for people to be familiar with one another without knowing each other’s names. As such, if a person witnesses a casual acquaintance committing a crime, the police and prosecution may rely on pictures or video to help the witness identify the offender. Recently, a Washington court addressed the issue of whether social media posts used to identify a criminal defendant are admissible as evidence in an assault case or if doing so violates the constitutional right to confront a witness. If you are accused of assault, it is vital to meet with a skillful Washington assault defense attorney to assess your rights.

The Alleged Offense

It is reported that in October 2017, the witness encountered the defendant, who she knew from high school, in a convenience store. She spoke with him briefly, and saw him make gang signs. Before he exited the store, she saw one of his friends had lifted up his shirt to reveal a gun. The friend then gave the gun to the defendant.

Allegedly, the witness saw the defendant point the gun at a car and heard shots being fired. Bullets hit multiple windows on the vehicle. She then called the police and reported what she witnessed but could not recall the defendant’s name. When she spoke with the police in person, she showed them pictures from the defendant’s social media account. The defendant was charged with assault and unlawful possession of a firearm. He sought to suppress his social media posts from being introduced at trial, but his motion was denied. He was convicted, after which he appealed. Continue reading

Many crimes have degrees, and a defendant charged with one crime may ultimately be found guilty of a less serious offense that carries reduced penalties. Thus, in many instances, a defendant will request that the jury receive a lesser included offense instruction in hopes of avoiding a conviction for the more serious charge. A lesser included offense instruction is not appropriate in every case, but if a trial court errs in determining that such an instruction is not warranted, it may constitute grounds for reversing a conviction, as demonstrated in a recent Washington ruling issued in an assault case. If you are charged with an assault offense, it is in your best interest to speak to a trusted Washington assault defense attorney as soon as possible to assess your options.

The Alleged Assault

It is reported that the defendant lived with the victim, who was his girlfriend. The couple got into an argument, and the defendant pushed the victim to the ground. While the exact details of what transpired after that are disputed, the defendant admitted that he pinned the victim to the wall. The victim stated that he strangled her and dragged her through the apartment. The defendant was charged with second-degree assault by means of strangulation and fourth-degree assault. During his trial, he asked for a lesser included offense instruction for the fourth-degree assault charge. The court denied his request, and he was convicted on both counts. He then appealed, arguing the trial court erred in denying his request.

Lesser Included Offense Instructions

Pursuant to Washington law, a defendant is entitled to a lesser included offense instruction if every element of the lesser included offense is a necessary element of the charged offense, which is referred to as the legal prong, and if the evidence in the case supports an inference that the defendant committed the lesser offense crime, which is known as the factual prong. The court explained that while the applicable test was still valid, recent rulings had caused confusion as to whether the factual prong required evidence that only the lesser included offense was committed, to the exclusion of the greater crime. Continue reading

Criminal defendants are afforded the right to a fair trial. Among other things, this means that the State cannot introduce evidence that a defendant engaged in other wrongs, crimes, or bad acts to show that the defendant has bad character and acted in conformance with that character in committing the underlying offense. Such evidence may be admitted for other reasons, though, as long as it is not overly prejudicial. Recently, a Washington court issued an opinion discussing the preclusion of evidence of other wrongs and crimes in a case where the defendant appealed his numerous convictions for assault. If you are accused of committing an assault crime, it is in your best interest to meet with a trusted Washington criminal defense attorney to assess your possible defenses.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was arrested and charged with two counts of fourth-degree assault. The charges arose out of an altercation with his girlfriend. Prior to trial, the defendant moved to preclude the State from introducing evidence that he owned weapons. The trial court denied his motion, and during the trial, the State offered testimony indicating that the defendant owned a gun and kept it in the home he shared with his girlfriend. The jury found the defendant guilty as charged, after which he appealed, arguing the trial court erred in admitting evidence of his gun ownership.

Admission of Evidence of Other Crimes, Bad Acts, and Wrongs

Under Washington law, evidence of bad acts, crimes, or wrongs is inadmissible to demonstrate a person’s character or to show that the person acted in conformance with that character. Trial courts have to begin with the assumption that such evidence should not be admitted. It is permissible to admit it, however, if it is introduced to show intent, knowledge, or a lack of mistake. Continue reading

Physical altercations often follow verbal disagreements, and in some cases, it is difficult to determine who is ultimately responsible for starting a fight. Thus, in many instances in which a person is charged with assault, self-defense is a viable defense. The State may try to thwart a self-defense argument, though, by asserting that the defendant was the first aggressor and should be found guilty. The appropriateness of a first aggressor instruction was the topic of a recent ruling issued by a Washington court, in a matter in which the defendant argued the instruction was improper. If you are accused of assault, it is prudent to speak to a capable Washington assault defense attorney to evaluate your options.

The Alleged Assault

It is reported that the defendant was waiting at a bus stop where another man was also waiting. The defendant walked back and forth very close to the other man, who asked the defendant to back up. The defendant then showed the man a knife and became verbally aggressive. The man then encountered the victim in the bathroom and advised him of the defendant’s behavior. When the victim left the bathroom, the defendant started yelling at him, then punched him in the head. The two men started fighting, and the defendant stabbed the victim numerous times. The defendant was charged with two counts of assault with deadly weapon enhancements. He was convicted of both charges, after which he appealed, arguing in part that the trial court erred in giving a first aggressor instruction to the jury.

The First Aggressor Instruction

A court reviews whether there was adequate evidence submitted to warrant a first aggressor instruction de novo. If the evidence produced at trial was sufficient to support the instruction, the evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party that requested the instruction. The court explained that a first aggressor instruction would not be deemed improper where there is credible evidence that would allow a jury to reasonably find that the defendant provoked the need for the victim to act in self-defense. Continue reading

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