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Articles Posted in Domestic Violence

man-running-away-225x300In criminal cases, the state bears the burden of proof. Specifically, in order to prove a criminal defendant’s guilt, the state must establish each element of the charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt. In many instances, this means that the state has to prove the defendant acted with intent. In such cases, if the defendant is convicted despite a lack of evidence that they acted knowingly, their conviction may be reversed. This was illustrated recently in a Washington matter in which the court found that the state failed to prove that the defendant knowingly violated his domestic violence no-contact order. If you are charged with a crime of domestic violence, it is smart to contact a Tacoma domestic violence defense lawyer regarding your potential defenses.

History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was subject to a domestic violence no-contact order that prevented him from coming within 500 feet of his estranged wife’s home. In September 2020, the wife’s neighbor saw the defendant walking in his backyard. The neighbor approached the defendant to ask him what he was doing on his property. Instead of responding, the defendant began to run and subsequently ran in front of his estranged wife’s trailer.

It is alleged that following the incident, the defendant was charged with numerous crimes, including felony violation of the domestic violence no-contact order. He waived his right to a jury trial, and the case proceeded to a bench trial. The court found that there was sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he knowingly violated the terms of his no-contact order. Thus, he was convicted. He then appealed. Continue reading

HearsayTypically, witnesses for the state must testify in person, and if the state attempts to introduce a person’s out-of-court statements instead of offering them as a witness at trial, their statements may be precluded as hearsay. If the defendant engaged in certain wrongful acts that prevented the person from testifying, though, the court may find that the defendant forfeited the right to object to the submission of out-of-court statements. This issue arose in a recent Washington domestic violence case in which the court ultimately determined that the defendant waived the right to an appeal by failing to raise the issue at trial. If you are charged with a domestic violence crime, it is prudent to confer with a Tacoma domestic violence defense lawyer at Smith & White, PLLC to assess your rights.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with multiple counts of violating a domestic violence protection order. When he was in jail after his arrest, he made numerous calls to the victim and asked her not to testify against him at trial. She agreed and, in her absence, the state introduced calls the defendant made from jail to the number used by the victim when she called 911 to report the initial violation. The jury deemed the defendant guilty, and he appealed.

The Forfeiture by Wrongdoing Exception to Hearsay

On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court erred by admitting the phone calls into evidence because it presumed that he was the caller instead of finding that the evidence demonstrating he was the caller was cogent, clear, and convincing. The court explained that the rule against hearsay does not apply if a party engages in wrongdoing that constitutes a waiver of the hearsay rule. The appellate court noted, though, that the point was moot as the defendant did not object when the state offered the subject calls into evidence at trial and expressly stated that he did not contest the issue of identity. Continue reading

One of the fundamental rights provided by both the Constitution and state law is the protection against self-incrimination. In other words, parties cannot be compelled to submit to interrogation that would force them to make statements that would implicate their guilt. If a party says something incriminating on his or her own volition, though, the statement may be admissible as evidence at a criminal trial. In a recent Washington domestic violence matter, an appellate court issued an opinion discussing the nuances of the right against self-incrimination, ultimately upholding the trial court’s decision to admit incriminating statements. If you are charged with a domestic violence offense, it is smart to meet with a Washington domestic violence defense lawyer to discuss your rights.

The Alleged Attack

Reportedly, the defendant became suspicious that his girlfriend was having an affair. He drove to a location where she was meeting with another man and, when he arrived, slammed his truck into reverse, striking his girlfriend’s vehicle. The defendant’s girlfriend, who was getting into the car at the time, fell to the ground, suffering injuries. The police arrested the defendant and charged him with numerous crimes, including domestic violence assault. Prior to trial, the defendant moved to suppress statements he made in a phone call to his girlfriend regarding the assault, but the court denied his motion. He was convicted, after which he appealed, arguing, in part, that the trial court erred in denying his motion.

Protections Against Self-Incrimination

On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court deprived him of his right against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Washington law because the phone call with his girlfriend constituted a custodial interrogation. The court rejected his argument. The court explained that pursuant to the Miranda ruling, a person accused of a crime has the right to an attorney during a custodial interrogation, even if the State has not filed formal charges against the person. 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

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.

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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.

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