Articles Posted in Domestic Violence

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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Under Washington law, if a defendant is convicted of a crime in addition to imprisonment or probation the court may impose monetary penalties. If a defendant is indigent, however, the court may be barred from imposing certain penalties. In a recent Washington appellate court case, the court analyzed the definition of indigence under recent amendments to the Washington Rules of Criminal Procedure and whether indigency bars domestic violence penalty assessments. If you are a Washington resident currently facing domestic violence charges you should meet with a skillful Washington domestic violence defense attorney to discuss your case and potential penalties you may face.

Facts of the Case

Reportedly, the defendant pleaded guilty to seven offenses, each of which included a domestic violence allegation. The court sentenced the defendant to 347 months of imprisonment and imposed mandatory and discretionary legal financial obligations, including a domestic violence penalty assessment. The defendant appealed, arguing that recent amendments to the Washington legal financial obligation laws barred the imposition of penalties, including the domestic violence penalty, due to his indigency.

Indigency Under Washington Law

In 2018, the Washington legislature amended the rules of criminal procedure. The amendments included a prohibition of the imposition of criminal filing fees against defendants who are indigent at the time of sentencing. Further, the 2018 amendments set forth a specific definition of indigence. Under the amendments, the inability to afford a lawyer is not sufficient to prove a defendant is indigent with regards to the ability to pay legal financial obligations. Rather, the defendant must show either that he or she receives a qualifying form of public assistance, that he or she was involuntarily committed in a public mental health facility, or that his or her annual income, after taxes, is 125 percent or less of the current poverty level established by the federal government.

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Under Washington law, a defendant can only be convicted of the crime for which he or she was charged, or a lesser included offense of that charge. Thus, if the State charges a defendant with violation of a protective order but fails to offer proof to establish the defendant committed the crime as charged, the State cannot then modify the information to change the elements of the alleged crime. This was illustrated in a case recently decided by the Washington Court of Appeals in which the court reversed a defendant’s conviction for violation of a protective order, following the State’s mid-trial amendment of the information charging the defendant. If you live in Washington and are charged with violation of a protective order it is in your best interest to consult a skilled Washington domestic violence defense attorney to discuss potential defenses to the charges you face.

Facts Surrounding the Defendant’s Charges

Reportedly, the defendant and his wife were in the process of divorcing when the wife obtained a protective order against the defendant. The order prohibited the defendant from contacting the wife or entering either of the two properties they previously inhabited together. However, the defendant was advised he could contact the sheriff’s department to assist him in obtaining his belongings from one of the properties. The defendant was also personally served with the order. The defendant was subsequently arrested after his truck was seen at one of the properties. The truck was searched at it was found that both the defendant’s and the plaintiff’s belongings were in the truck. The defendant was found on the property charged with violating the protective order and second-degree burglary.

It is alleged that after the State rested its case at trial, the defendant testified that he was at the property to return the plaintiff’s belongings and pick up his belongings. Further, he admitted the property was subject to the protective order. The defendant moved to dismiss the violation of the protective order charge, however, due to the fact that the information alleged he violated the order by contacting the wife. The State then moved to amend the information to allege that the defendant violated the order by entering a protected property. The State’s motion was granted and the defendant was found guilty, after which he appealed.
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It is common knowledge that criminal defendants are afforded the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Each criminal charge has different elements that the state must prove in order to convict a defendant. If a defendant is convicted absent sufficient evidence, he or she may be able to have the conviction overturned.

Recently, a Washington appellate court reviewed the evidence needed to convict a defendant of assault with a deadly weapon, in State v. Solorazano. If you are charged with a crime, it is important to retain a Washington criminal defense attorney who will fight vigorously to help you retain your liberties.

Factual Allegations

Reportedly, police responded to reports of a domestic dispute at a mobile home. When they arrived, the police placed the defendant into custody. They spoke with his girlfriend, the alleged victim and her daughter, both of whom were panicked and scared. The police found a knife that had a seven inch blade, that they believed the defendant used in the altercation. Neither the girlfriend nor her daughter had any injuries. The defendant was charged with second-degree assault with a deadly weapon. During the trial, the State played the 911 call from the alleged incident, in which the defendant’s girlfriend’s daughter could be heard stating that the defendant had a knife and had placed his girlfriend in a headlock. The defendant was convicted as charged, after which he appealed.

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