Articles Posted in Domestic Violence

In many domestic violence cases, the defendant will dispute the alleged victim’s account of events, arguing that the victim has an ulterior motive for making the accusations or that the victim’s account is unreliable. Thus, it is not uncommon for a defendant to seek to introduce evidence to impeach the victim, but not all evidence will be deemed admissible. In a recent Washington appellate case, the court analyzed when medical records indicating a victim had an altered perception of reality may be introduced to impeach the victim in a domestic violence assault trial. If you reside in Washington and are charged with a domestic violence crime, you should speak with a trusted Washington domestic violence defense attorney to discuss what you can do to protect your rights.

Factual and Procedural Background of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant and his wife, the reported victim, had an argument. During the argument, the defendant told his wife to kill herself, stated he would kill her himself and strangled her twice. The wife testified that during both times the defendant strangled her, she couldn’t speak or breathe, she had tunnel vision, and she thought the defendant was going to kill her. The defendant was charged with one count of domestic violence second-degree assault for each of the strangling instances, as well as a count of felony harassment for threatening to kill the wife.

Reportedly, the wife was diagnosed with bipolar disorder shortly before the alleged assault. During the trial, the husband sought to introduce medical records regarding the wife’s diagnosis and alleged symptoms, to support his position that the wife had an altered perception of reality at the time of the alleged assault. The court deemed the records inadmissible. The defendant was convicted on all counts, after which he appealed, arguing, in part, that the trial court erred in excluding the victim’s medical records.

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Under Washington criminal cases, hearsay evidence is inadmissible. In other words, the State cannot introduce evidence of an out of court statement made by another party, to show the truth of the matter of the statement. There are exceptions to the rule, though, that will render hearsay evidence admissible. For example, if a statement was made under certain conditions, it may fall under the excited utterance exception to the rule against hearsay, as demonstrated in a recent domestic violence case. If you are a Washington resident charged with a crime of domestic violence, it is wise to speak with a capable Washington domestic violence defense attorney regarding what evidence the State may introduce against you.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant and his victim were former romantic partners who decided to resume their relationship. In January 2018, the victim picked up the defendant, who appeared angry. The defendant proceeded to verbally and physically assault the victim while she was driving. The victim then drove her car into the parking lot of a casino, where she hoped to drop the defendant off. The victim noticed a police officer patrolling the lot and drove her car directly at him, yelling that the defendant had just assaulted her.

Reportedly, the officer ordered the defendant out of the car and questioned the victim, who stated that the defendant told her he wanted to kill her, and she was in imminent fear for her life. The officer noticed redness around the victim’s neck as well. The defendant was charged with three crimes of domestic violence, including second-degree assault. The case proceeded to trial, during which the officer testified regarding the victim’s statements prior to the defendant’s arrest. The defendant was found guilty, after which he appealed, arguing that the trial court abused its discretion in allowing the victim’s statements to be admitted under the excited utterance exception of the rule against hearsay.

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Under Washington law, some crimes may be designated as crimes of domestic violence if the State can produce sufficient evidence that the offense meets the criteria set forth under the law. If the State cannot prove each element of a domestic violence crime, a domestic violence designation may be stricken, however, as evidenced by a recent Washington appellate case. If you live in Washington and are charged with a crime of domestic violence, it is prudent to meet with a capable Washington domestic violence defense attorney to discuss your case.

Factual and Procedural Background of the Case

It is alleged that the victim received a phone call from an unidentified number. The victim recognized the caller as the defendant, even though the defendant did not identify himself. The caller stated that he was glad that the victim had a brain tumor and that he hoped the victim would die, and used profanity. The caller also called the victim offensive names.

Reportedly, the victim had a restraining order against the defendant at the time of the call. The victim called the police to report that the defendant had violated the restraining order and harassed the victim via telephone. The defendant was charged with violating the restraining order and telephone harassment, both of which were designated crimes of domestic violence. A jury convicted the defendant of both offenses. The defendant appealed on several grounds, including that the State failed to produce sufficient evidence that the crimes were acts of domestic violence.

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In Washington, if a defendant is convicted of a crime of domestic violence, the court may consider numerous factors when sentencing the defendant. For example, if the defendant has prior convictions, those convictions are used to calculate a defendant’s offender score, which is then used in determining an appropriate sentence. In a recent case in which the defendant pleaded guilty to numerous crimes, including fourth-degree assault domestic violence, the Court of Appeals of Washington discussed how out of state prior convictions should be assessed when determining an offender score. If you reside in Washington and are charged with one or more domestic violence crimes, you should speak with a trusted Washington domestic violence defense attorney about what actions you can take to protect your rights.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported that the defendant was charged with numerous crimes, including fourth-degree assault, domestic violence. He pleaded guilty to the charges. Prior to sentencing, both the defendant and the State submitted briefs regarding the defendant’s Florida criminal history. Following argument on the matter, the court found that five of the defendant’s twelve prior convictions were equal to misdemeanors or gross misdemeanors, and treated two of the convictions as the same course of conduct. Thus, the defendant was given an offender score of 6 on the harassment charge and was subsequently sentenced to 56 months of imprisonment. He then appealed.

Scoring of Out of State Convictions

On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court committed an error in calculating his offender score. Specifically, he argued that the 6 Florida convictions the court counted towards his score were only comparable to misdemeanor offenses.

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In Washington, in any case in which a defendant is convicted of a domestic violence crime, in addition to imposing a sentence and fines on the defendant, the court may issue a domestic violence no-contact order (DVNCO). While Washington courts are permitted to enter a DVNCO, their authority in defining the duration and terms of the DVNCO are limited by statute and case law, as recently explained by a Washington appellate court. If you are a Washington resident and are currently facing charges of a crime of domestic violence it is essential to meet with a knowledgeable Washington domestic violence defense attorney regarding your rights and protections afforded by the law.

Procedural and Factual Background

Reportedly, the defendant was charged with domestic violence assault and malicious mischief of the alleged victim. Following a  jury trial, the defendant was convicted as charged. The trial court then entered a felony judgment and sentence of twenty-nine months imprisonment for the assault conviction. The court also sentenced the defendant to 364 days confinement for the malicious mischief conviction, which was a gross misdemeanor, to run consecutively with the felony sentence, but suspended 244 days of the sentence.

It is alleged that the court then issued a DVNCO stating that the defendant was prohibited from contacting the victim for ten years. The defendant appealed the DVNCO with regards to the malicious mischief conviction, arguing that the DVNCO must be limited to the length of the suspended sentence. The appellate court agreed and remanded the case for a separate DVNCO for the malicious mischief conviction. Continue reading

In Washington, if a person is restricted by a domestic violence no-contact order, the person must strictly abide by the terms of the order, or he or she may face significant penalties. This was demonstrated in a recent Washington appellate court case in which the court found that the State produced sufficient evidence that the defendant committed a felony violation of a no-contact order, even though the person protected by the order consented to the contact. If you live in Washington and are charged with violating a domestic violence no-contact order it is imperative to meet with a seasoned Washington domestic violence defense attorney to evaluate what defenses you can set forth to protect your rights.

Factual Background of the Case

Reportedly, the defendant was subject to two separate domestic violence no-contact orders, preventing him from contacting the alleged victim. The orders were issued in February and July 2016. The defendant acknowledged receipt of the first order via signature but refused to sign for the second order. He was served the second order, however. Each order contained language stating that the defendant could be arrested even if the victim protected by the order permitted or invited the defendant to violate the terms of the order. The orders further explained that it was the defendant’s sole responsibility to refrain from violating the orders.

It is alleged that on August 2017, a police officer observed the defendant and the victim together. The officer recognized the defendant from a prior violation and approached the pair. The defendant gave his real name, but both the defendant and the victim gave the police a fake name for the victim. The defendant was subsequently charged with felony violation of both no-contact orders. The defendant was convicted by a jury, after which he appealed, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction.

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Under Washington law, for a defendant to be found guilty by a jury in a criminal case, the jury’s decision must be unanimous. There are exceptions to the rule, however, such as cases involving a continuing course of conduct. This was elucidated in a recent Washington appellate court case, in which the defendant was convicted of domestic violence stalking. If you live in Washington and are charged with stalking or another crime of domestic violence you should consult a skilled Washington domestic violence defense attorney to discuss your options for protecting your liberties.

Pertinent Facts and Procedure

Allegedly, the defendant and his victim were married for eighteen years. During the pendency of their divorce, the victim obtained a no-contact order, that prohibited the defendant from coming within 500 feet of her home. The defendant was observed driving around the victim’s property on numerous occasions, after which he was charged with felony stalking and a gross misdemeanor offense of violating a civil antiharassment protect order, both of which were crimes of domestic violence. The case proceeded to trial, and the jury convicted the defendant of both charges. He was sentenced to twelve months and one day in prison for the stalking charge. The defendant subsequently appealed arguing, in part, that the trial court erred in failing to instruct the jury that it needed to unanimously agree that his actions constituted a crime.

Unanimity Requirement

Under Washington law, only a unanimous jury can issue a guilty verdict in a criminal case. If the evidence shows numerous acts occurred that could constitute the charged offense, either the State must elect which act it relied upon in issuing the charges or instruct the jury that it must choose which act it found the defendant committed that constituted a crime. If the State does not elect an act or provide the jury with a unanimity instruction, it is a constitutional error that requires a new trial, unless it is proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the error was harmless.

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In many cases in which a person alleges he or she was the victim of a crime of domestic violence, the court will issue an order barring the defendant from contacting the victim. No-contact orders are strictly enforced and if a person violates a no-contact order it can result in felony charges. Recently, a Washington appellate court discussed the shifting burdens of proof when a defendant is charged with violating a no-contact order. If you are a Washington resident charged with violating a domestic violence no-contact order or any other domestic violence crime it is critical to engage an assertive Washington domestic violence defense attorney who will fight to help you retain your rights.

Facts of the Case

Allegedly, in October 2015, a court issued a no-contact order that restrained the defendant from contacting his former girlfriend, the mother of his daughter.  Specifically, he was prohibited from knowingly entering or remaining within 500 feet of the girlfriends’ house, school, place of work or car. The order was in affect for five years.  In February 2017, the girlfriend observed the defendant outside of her apartment, in violation of the order, and called the police. The police responded and questioned the defendant, who stated that he was there to give an EBT card to his daughter and nodded in the direction of the girlfriend’s apartment.

It is reported that the police subsequently arrested the defendant, and he was charged with a domestic violence felony violation of a no-contact order. During the trial, the defendant testified that he was not aware that he was violating the order at the time of his arrest. He was convicted of violating the order and sentenced to 72 to 96 months in prison. He subsequently appealed arguing the prosecutor committed misconduct by shifting the evidentiary burden. The court denied the defendant’s appeal.

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Frequently, a person will be charged with assault following an altercation. It is common for both parties in an altercation to commit acts of physical violence and therefore in many cases in which a person is charged with assault, he or she can argue that he or she was acting in self-defense and should not be convicted. In a recent Washington case in which the defendant appealed his assault conviction, the court analyzed what constitutes sufficiency of evidence of self-defense. If you live in Washington and were recently charged with assault you should meet with a skilled Washington criminal defense attorney to discuss what defenses may be available in your case.

Factual Background of the Case

Allegedly, the defendant and his wife were arguing at their apartment. The disagreement became physical when the defendant grabbed his wife’s hand, pulled it behind her back, and pushed her against the wall. The defendant’s wife’s brother came to the apartment the following day and the defendant and the brother began to fight. The following day the defendant’s wife obtained a protective order prohibiting the defendant from contacting her or entering their apartment. She decided she wanted to end their relationship and removed the defendant’s name from their joint accounts.

It is reported that the defendant went to the apartment to remove his belongings. His wife’s brother met him there and served him with the protective order, after which the defendant became angry and began cursing. The defendant was walking towards the car when he was approached by his wife’s brother. The defendant then stabbed his wife’s brother in the abdomen. He was subsequently charged with and convicted of second-degree assault. The defendant appealed his conviction, arguing that the State failed to produce sufficient evidence that he was not acting in self-defense, and that the trial court misstated the law when answering a jury question.

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It is well-established that to prove a person committed a crime, the State is required to produce evidence adequate to establish each element of the crime. A defendant can attack the State’s case, by arguing that the State has not met its burden regarding the sufficiency of the evidence. This was demonstrated in a recent Washington domestic violence case, in which the defendant argued that the State failed to offer sufficient evidence to prove he was in a “dating relationship” with his alleged victim. If you live in Washington and are charged with a domestic violence crime it is essential to retain a diligent Washington domestic violence defense attorney who will assert any available defenses on your behalf.

Factual Background

It is reported that the defendant and his alleged victim met through an online dating website and communicated for two weeks before deciding to meet. They met at a restaurant, where they ate and had drinks together. They then traveled to a second bar, where they had another drink, and stopped at the defendant’s house where the defendant introduced the victim to his mother. The couple then proceeded to a waterfront area, where they kissed and went to additional bars where they consumed alcohol, before returning to the defendant’s home. They had intercourse and then fell asleep.

It is alleged that the victim awoke to find the defendant urinating on the floor. The victim attempted to rouse the defendant, who became irritated and began punching and strangling the victim. The victim left the house and called the police, who took the victim to the hospital and arrested the defendant. The defendant was ultimately charged with assault in the second degree and felony harassment, both of which included domestic violence allegations. The defendant was convicted on both charges, after which he appealed.

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