March 25 Shelter in Place—Distance sharing is caring. So Zoom video conference to continue with your essential legal services while keeping you, your family and your community safe. Smith & White is open as an essential service because courts remain open to address safety issues. So contact us in the secure manner you think best.

Articles Posted in Domestic Violence

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

Generally, the State is not permitted to introduce evidence of prior bad acts or wrongs to establish that a person violated the law on a certain occasion. In other words, the State cannot point to previous behavior in an effort to convince a jury that a defendant acted similarly on the date of an alleged crime. Evidence of other wrongs may be admitted for other reasons, however. The grounds for admitting evidence of prior acts of domestic violence was the topic of a recent Washington opinion, in a matter involving a felony violation of a no-contact order. If you are accused of a domestic violence offense, it is advisable to speak to a capable Washington domestic violence defense attorney about your rights.

The Alleged Crime

It is reported that the defendant and the victim became romantically involved when they were co-workers. At some point, a no-contact order was entered, preventing the two from associating with each other. Regardless, they saw each other at a party for their former employer. Later that evening, the victim sent a friend messages indicating she had been assaulted by the defendant. The friend went to the victim’s house and observed marks on her leg and face. He then heard someone in the garage and hid in the bathroom, and called 911.

Allegedly, during the 911 call, the defendant could be heard engaging in an altercation with the victim. The police arrived and arrested the defendant, who was charged with felony violation of a no-contact order. He was convicted, after which he appealed, arguing in part that the trial court erred in admitting evidence of prior acts of domestic violence at his trial. Continue reading

Domestic violence is a serious issue and is treated as such by the Washington courts. Therefore, in order to prevent victims of domestic violence from suffering continued harm, a court may order a defendant convicted of violating a no-contact order to attend counseling or mental health treatment. Recently, the discretion and basis for imposing certain community custody conditions in cases involving domestic violence were explained in an opinion issued by a Washington court, in a matter in which the defendant argued his sentence was unrelated to his crime. If you are charged with violating a no-contact order or a similar crime, it is in your best interest to speak to a capable Washington domestic violence defense attorney to determine your rights.

The Alleged Crimes

It is reported that in 2017, the defendant was convicted of six counts of misdemeanor domestic violence after he damaged his ex-wife’s home and car, set her bed on fire, and threatened to kill himself. After his conviction, a no-contact order was entered prohibiting him from coming within one thousand feet of his ex-wife’s home.

Allegedly, in 2019, the police received a phone call from a relative of the defendant’s ex-wife, stating that the defendant was in the ex-wife’s home and there were concerns for her safety. The police ultimately detained the defendant at the premises, and he was arrested and charged with a felony violation of the no-contact order. He was sentenced to a year in prison, followed by two years of community custody. One of the conditions of his community custody was that he was to attend a domestic violence program. He appealed, arguing that the condition was unrelated to his offense. On appeal, the court affirmed. Continue reading

People who are found guilty of committing acts of domestic violence may be subject to no-contact orders, which generally prohibit them from speaking to or otherwise contacting their victims. A person that disregards a no-contact order may face felony charges. The State must prove that an individual charged with felony violation of a domestic violence no-contact order was both aware of the order and willfully violated its terms in order to obtain a conviction, as discussed in a recent Washington ruling. If you are charged with a crime of domestic violence, it is prudent to speak to a Washington domestic violence defense attorney regarding your rights.

Charges Against the Defendant

It is reported that the defendant and the victim had an on-again-off-again romantic relationship since 2009. At some point, a domestic violence no-contact order was issued barring the defendant from contacting the victim. In March 2015, the defendant was found guilty of violating the order, and the court entered a second order that prohibited him from contacting the victim for five years.

Allegedly, in November 2018, the defendant asked the victim to meet him. They were subsequently caught by the police in a car parked behind a store. The woman initially provided the police with a fake name but eventually revealed her identity. The defendant gave the police his proper name. He was subsequently charged with and convicted of a felony violation of a domestic violence no-contact order. He appealed, arguing the State had insufficient evidence that he was aware of the order. Continue reading

People convicted of crimes of domestic violence are often prohibited from interacting with their victims via domestic violence no-contact orders. Thus, if a person subject to a no-contact order subsequently contacts the victim, it may result in additional criminal charges. While a no-contact order must be valid to be enforceable, there are specific parameters for objecting to an order as improper. The failure to comply with the correct procedural process can result in the waiver of rights, as demonstrated in a recent Washington ruling. If you are accused of violating a no-contact order or committing another crime of domestic violence, it is advisable to meet with a Washington domestic violence defense attorney to assess your options.

The Defendant’s Alleged Violation

Allegedly, the defendant was convicted of fourth-degree assault, which was a crime of domestic violence in October 2017. The court issued a five-year domestic violence no-contact order, barring the defendant from interacting with the victim either indirectly or directly or being within 500 feet of her. The defendant continued to contact the victim regardless, however.

It is reported that in January 2018 and March 2018, incidents occurred in which the defendant assaulted the victim. During the second incident, he took her purse as well. He was subsequently charged with two felony violations of the domestic violence no-contact order and robbery. Following a trial, the jury convicted the defendant, and he was sentenced to five years in prison. He then appealed, arguing in part that the no-contact order was invalid.

Continue reading

In many cases in which a person is convicted of a domestic violence crime, the court will issue a no-contact order, prohibiting the person from contacting his or her victim. The failure to comply with a no-contact order constitutes a crime. Additionally, a person that repeatedly violates no-contact orders could face felony charges. Recently, a Washington court set forth a ruling in which it discussed what constitutes adequate evidence of repeated violations of no contact orders, in a case in which the defendant appealed his felony conviction. If you are charged with a crime of domestic violence, it is in your best interest to speak to a trusted Washington domestic violence defense attorney to assess your rights.

Factual and Procedural History

It is alleged that a no-contact order was in place that prohibited the defendant from contacting or being within 500 feet of his parents. The defendant’s father called the police to report that the defendant was in his shed. When the police arrived, they affirmed that the no-contact order was in place and found the defendant in the shed as his father described. He was arrested and charged with violating the no-contact order. As it was the defendant’s third violation of a no-contact order, it was charged as a felony. The defendant was convicted, after which he appealed, arguing the State failed to produce sufficient evidence of prior violations. On appeal, the court affirmed his conviction.

Evidence of Violations of a No-Contact Order

In order to prove that the defendant’s violation of the no-contact order constituted a felony, the State was required to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant committed violations of no-contact orders on two prior occasions. To determine whether evidence is sufficient, an appellate court must examine whether a rational factfinder would determine that the defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt when viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the State.

Continue reading

In some criminal matters, even a defendant that admits to committing the allegedly criminal acts may be found not guilty if a valid justification for the behavior exists. For example, in many assault cases, the defendant may be able to avoid a conviction by demonstrating that the alleged unlawful acts were taken in self-defense. In a recent Washington assault case, the court discussed each party’s burden of proof with regard to self-defense. If you are accused of an assault crime, it is prudent to confer with a skilled Washington assault defense attorney to discuss your possible defenses.

The Alleged Assault

Allegedly, the defendant and her husband became involved in a verbal altercation over the fact that the defendant had a boyfriend. The defendant began looking for the deed to their house to prove that she was a co-owner but became enraged when she could not find it. She began throwing things and then started to hit and kick her husband. She ultimately charged him with a sword that was a replica from a movie and sliced his arm. The husband called 911 and had to be airlifted to a hospital due to his wounds.

It is reported that the defendant was arrested and charged with second-degree assault with a deadly weapon, which was deemed a crime of violence. The case proceeded to trial, and the defendant was convicted, after which she appealed, arguing in part that the State failed to produce sufficient evidence that she was not acting in self-defense. The appellate court ultimately rejected her arguments and affirmed her conviction.

Continue reading

Assault crimes are often committed in the heat of the moment, in response to an emotionally charged event. Thus, if the State can produce evidence that demonstrates motive, it may be able to persuade a jury that a defendant is guilty of the offense charged. The admissibility of motive evidence was recently discussed in a Washington assault case in which the court denied the defendant’s appeal of his conviction. If you are charged with assault or another crime, it is smart to talk to a trusted Washington assault defense attorney to determine what evidence may be used against you.

The Alleged Assault

It is alleged that the defendant and his victim were engaged and lived together. The victim confronted the defendant regarding his drug use, and they became embroiled in a physical argument. The defendant choked the victim, who broke free and ran outside. The defendant then followed the victim and hit her and proceeded to drag her back into the house. A motorist passing by observed the incident and allowed the victim to call 911. The defendant then fled.

Reportedly, the defendant was arrested two days later. He was ultimately charged with second-degree assault, witness tampering, and other crimes. A trial was held before a jury, and the defendant was convicted as charged, and his offenses were deemed crimes of domestic violence. Following his sentencing hearing, he appealed.

Continue reading

Under Washington law, if a defendant is convicted of a crime that constitutes an act of domestic violence, the court may find that aggravated circumstances are present that warrant an exceptional sentence. Recently, a Washington appellate court denied a criminal defendant’s challenge to such a sentence, finding that the defendant’s interpretation of the relevant statute was flawed and would lead to an absurd result. If you are accused of committing a crime of domestic violence, it is wise to meet with a knowledgeable Washington domestic violence defense attorney to talk about your options.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant and his wife were separated when the defendant visited the wife in the marital home. They were embroiled in an argument when the husband took out a gun and threatened to kill himself. At that time, the wife was in the bedroom, holding the couple’s infant daughter. The defendant calmed down and tried to uncock his gun. In doing so, he accidentally discharged the weapon, shooting the wife through the bedroom door.

It is reported that the wife subsequently died from her injuries, and the defendant was charged with first-degree manslaughter. During the trial, the judge gave the jury an instruction on the elements of an aggravated domestic violence offense. The jury found the defendant guilty of manslaughter and found that the evidence supported the conclusion that the act was an aggravated domestic violence offense. The court imposed an exceptional sentence above the standard range, and the defendant appealed.

Continue reading

As most people are aware, criminal defendants cannot be compelled to make incriminating statements and must be advised of their rights via a Miranda warning prior to any custodial interrogations. As such, any incriminating statement made by a person during a line of questioning that occurs prior to a Miranda warning may be precluded from evidence. Additionally, as discussed in a recent assault case, if a party makes an incriminating statement following such warnings, it may be inadmissible if the line of questioning as a whole constitutes a two-step interrogation. If you are charged with assault, it is wise to speak to a zealous Washington assault defense attorney to determine what arguments you may be able to set forth in your defense.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant and his victim lived in an RV together. A passerby alerted the police to an altercation outside of the RV, which prompted the police to report to the scene. When they arrived, they asked the defendant what happened, and he responded that he was trying to fix things between him and the victim. He further stated that he had not choked the victim, he was just trying to get her to talk to him. The defendant was given a Miranda warning, after which he was questioned.

Allegedly, he again denied choking or hitting the victim but stated that he placed his hands on her shoulders. The defendant was charged with assault with domestic violence allegations. Prior to trial, he filed a motion to preclude the statements he made to the police during the investigation. The court denied his motion, and he was convicted, after which he appealed.

Continue reading

Contact Information