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Articles Posted in Evidence

In Washington, people convicted of felony offenses typically lose the right to own firearms. Thus, if a person who is not permitted to own a gun is found with one in his or her possession, it may result in additional charges. As possession is a key element of many weapons offenses, if the State cannot produce sufficient evidence to demonstrate a defendant actually had a weapon, the defendant should not be found guilty. Recently, a Washington court set forth an opinion discussing what evidence is needed to demonstrate possession of a weapon in a case in which the defendant argued his conviction was improper. If you are charged with a weapons crime, it is in your best interest to meet with a knowledgeable Washington criminal defense lawyer to discuss your possible defenses.

The Defendant’s Charges

It is reported that police were working with detectives to investigate drug crimes. They ultimately obtained a warrant to search the home of the defendant, and during their search, found a sawed-off shotgun and two other weapons. The defendant was subsequently charged with multiple crimes, including unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawful possession of an illegal firearm. He moved to suppress the evidence obtained in the search at trial, but his motion was denied. He was ultimately convicted of the charged offenses by a jury, after which he appealed.

Evidence Needed to Establish Possession of a Weapon

On appeal, the defendant argued, in part, that the State failed to produce adequate evidence to convict him of unlawful possession of firearms. Specifically, he asserted that the evidence presented at trial merely showed that he was in the proximity of guns seized by law enforcement. The appellate court disagreed and affirmed his conviction. 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

While people generally have the right to own weapons, some people who have prior felony convictions are barred from owning firearms and can face criminal charges if guns are found in their possession. While a person that is not permitted to own guns can be charged with multiple weapons charges, they cannot be charged more than once for possessing the same weapon, and if they are, it likely constitutes double jeopardy. This was demonstrated in a recent Washington ruling in which the court reversed one of the defendant’s convictions for unlawful possession of a weapon. If you are charged with a weapons offense, you may be able to avoid a conviction, and it is advisable to speak to a knowledgeable Washington gun crime defense attorney to evaluate your rights.

The Defendant’s Arrest

It is reported that a barista called the police and reported that the defendant visited the drive-through window of a coffee shop, reported that he was running from the police, and showed the barista a revolver. Three days after that incident, the defendant shot a person with a revolver when he was at a lake. The defendant was subsequently charged with multiple offenses, including two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm. He was convicted as charged. He then appealed his firearm convictions, arguing that the two counts arose out of the same conduct and that double jeopardy applied, requiring the court to vacate one of his convictions. The court ultimately agreed.

Double Jeopardy in the Context of Gun Crimes

The court explained that double jeopardy protections are provided by the constitution, and therefore, the defendant did not waive his right to raise this argument by asserting it for the first time on appeal. The principle of double jeopardy prohibits a person from being put in jeopardy more than once for the same offense. 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

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

Firearm convictions can result in the loss of significant liberties. As with any criminal matter, though, the State must prove each element of the charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction, and if it does not, it may constitute a violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights. Recently, a Washington state court issued a ruling in which it explained what is considered adequate evidence to establish unlawful possession of a firearm in a case in which the defendant sought relief from personal restraint following convictions for multiple crimes. If you are charged with a weapons crime, it is advisable to meet with a trusted Washington gun crime defense attorney to discuss your possible defenses.

The Defendant’s Allegations

It is reported that in 2017, the defendant was convicted of three counts of assault and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm. Personal restraint was imposed following his convictions. In 2020, the defendant sought relief from his personal restraint, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to prove he was guilty of unlawful possession of a firearm and that his conviction and the firearm enhancements on his assault convictions violated his protections against double jeopardy. The court ultimately rejected the defendant’s arguments and denied his request for relief.

Evidence Sufficient to Establish Guilt in Gun Crime Cases

First, the court discussed the defendant’s allegations that the evidence was insufficient to prove his guilt with regard to the firearm charge. The court explained that evidence in criminal cases is sufficient to prove culpability if, after it is viewed in the light most favorable to the State, any rational factfinder could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that the elements of a crime were present.

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In Washington, when a person is charged with a weapons crime, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person committed each element of the offense. Typically, the prosecution will rely on circumstantial evidence, such as statements regarding the defendant’s whereabouts or discussions with the defendant regarding the weapons in order to prove its case. Thus, if a defendant can attack the validity of the prosecution’s evidence, it may weaken its case, but such efforts are not always successful. This was demonstrated in a recent Washington case in which the court affirmed the defendant’s convictions for firearm-related offenses despite the defendant’s arguments that the prosecution’s evidence should have been precluded at trial. If you are charged with unlawfully owning or possessing a firearm, it is advisable to speak with a skillful Washington gun crime defense attorney to discuss your case.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm as well as with being a felon in possession of ammunition, both of which were federal crimes. Following his trial, he was convicted by a jury. He then appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence found during a search of his home and in admitting evidence of his prior bad acts. The appellate court denied the defendant’s appeal, affirming his conviction.

Evidence Admissible at a Trial for Weapons Charges

First, the court explained that the officer’s entry into the defendant’s home was lawful as it was done in response to a 911 call. Further, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that the officer did not have authority to enter his home or search the surrounding hillside for weapons, and that the evidence found during the search should be suppressed.

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In many instances in which a person is convicted of a serious offense, in addition to being penalized via jail time or a fine, he or she will also lose the right to possess or own a firearm. As such, if a convicted felon is found with guns in his or her possession, it may result in additional charges. As discussed in a recent Washington case, the State may be able to obtain a conviction for a firearms charge by demonstrating constructive rather than actual possession. If you are a Washington resident currently charged with a weapons crime, it is prudent to speak to a dedicated Washington gun crime defense attorney regarding your rights.

Factual History

It is reported that the police received a tip that the defendant, who was a convicted felon, was in possession of firearms in violation of the law. As such, an officer visited the home where the defendant lived with his girlfriend. She allowed him to enter and search the premises and stated that while she owned guns, they were all locked in a safe. While she had the only key to the safe, she sometimes left it hanging in her bedroom. The officer observed the safe, which contained one more gun than reported and also saw a holster with a pistol in it hanging from a bedpost. The girlfriend admitted this was the defendant’s gun. The defendant was subsequently charged with six counts of unlawful possession of a firearm, and following a trial was convicted on all counts. He then appealed.

Evidence Sufficient to Show Possession of a Firearm

On appeal, the defendant argued in part that there was insufficient evidence to demonstrate that he possessed the firearms within the gun safe, which were the basis for five of his charges. The court explained that in appeals challenging the sufficiency of the evidence, all evidence must be reviewed in a light most favorable to the plaintiff, but circumstantial and direct evidence should be afforded the same weight. When a party claims the evidence is insufficient, though, they admit the truth of the evidence and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn from it.

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Many criminal statutes require the State to prove that a defendant possessed a certain mental state during the commission of the crime. If the State cannot establish that the defendant had the required state of mind when an offense was allegedly committed, then the defendant should not be found guilty. Recently, a Washington court discussed whether a defendant could argue that he lacked the requisite mental state to violate a domestic violence no-contact order due to voluntary intoxication in a case in which the defendant was charged with numerous crimes. If you live in Washington and are accused of a crime of domestic violence, it is advisable to consult a trusted Washington domestic violence defense attorney to discuss what defenses you may be able to assert.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was subject to two separate domestic violence no-contact orders that barred him from contacting his former girlfriend with whom he shared a child. Specifically, the orders stated that the defendant was not permitted to communicate with his former girlfriend except to discuss custody exchanges, and prohibited him from coming within 1,000 feet of her, her school, work, or home. While the orders were in effect, the former girlfriend found the defendant in her living room in the early morning.

Allegedly, the defendant appeared to be intoxicated and was crying and mumbling. He then swallowed a bottle of pills and lost consciousness, after which the former girlfriend called the police. The defendant was ultimately charged with multiple offenses, including two counts of a felony violation of a domestic violence order. During the trial, the defendant requested an instruction on the defense of involuntary intoxication, which the court denied. The jury convicted the defendant, after which he appealed, arguing in part that the trial court erred in denying his request.

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Often when a person is charged with assault, the evidence the State presents against the defendant is purely circumstantial. Thus, in many cases, there is insufficient evidence for the State to obtain a conviction. In some cases, the State will introduce evidence of substantial bodily harm to support the allegations a defendant committed assault. Recently, a Washington court discussed what constitutes sufficient evidence of substantial bodily harm in a case in which the defendant was convicted of second-degree assault of her minor son. If you are a Washington resident currently faced with assault charges, it is critical to retain a practiced Washington assault defense attorney to assist you in mounting a strong defense.

Facts Regarding the Alleged Assault

It is reported that prior to dropping the victim off at daycare, the defendant called the daycare to report that the victim had a bruise on his face due to an accident. Upon examination of the victim, the daycare noticed the victim had substantial bruising on his face and neck. As such, the daycare called the police, who began an investigation into the defendant. The defendant was ultimately charged with assault in the second degree of a child and was convicted following a trial. She then appealed, arguing, among other things, that there was insufficient evidence to support her conviction. Upon review, the appellate court affirmed her conviction.

Evidence of Substantial Bodily Harm

Under Washington law, a person will be found guilty of assault in the second degree of a child if the person is over eighteen years old, and the victim is under thirteen years old. There are numerous ways the State can prove assault in the second degree, one of which is through showing that a defendant intentionally assaulted another person, thereby recklessly causing substantial bodily harm. In turn, substantial bodily harm is defined under Washington law as a bodily injury that involves a disfigurement that is temporary but significant, a fracture, or temporary impairment or loss of bodily function.

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