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Articles Posted in Evidence

Criminal defendants are afforded the right to a meaningful defense by both the Washington and United States Constitutions. This means, in part, that a criminal defendant has the right to confront any witnesses who testify in support of the State’s position. If a criminal defendant is not afforded the right to a meaningful defense, it can be grounds for seeking a reversal of any conviction obtained by the State, as illustrated in a case recently decided by the Washington Court of Appeals. In that case, the court reversed the defendant’s conviction, due to the fact that the defendant was convicted of assault without being permitted to question witnesses regarding facts surrounding the alleged assault. If you are a Washington resident charged with assault you should speak with a capable Washington assault defense attorney to discuss your rights under the law.

The Alleged Assault

Reportedly, the defendant’s assault charges arose out of an altercation with the victim. The victim drove the defendant to the hospital due to an eye injury. When the defendant was discharged, he discovered the victim had left. The defendant had no money or cell phone, so he sold his watch to pay for a taxi to drive him home. He subsequently went to the victim’s house and demanded money from him, arguing that the victim’s abandonment forced him to sell his watch. The victim refused to pay, after which the defendant left.

Allegedly, a few days later the defendant returned to the victim’s house with a friend. What transpired at the victim’s house is disputed between the parties. It was conceded that the defendant and the victim engaged in an altercation, but it was disputed whether the victim had a knife during the altercation. When the friend was examined by the State’s attorney regarding what happened, he testified he believed the victim had a knife. He admitted he had previously told the police he did not think the victim was armed, however, and that he never saw the victim with a knife. When he was cross-examined by defense counsel regarding the inconsistencies in his account, the State’s attorney objected to the line of questioning and the court sustained the objection, halting any further testimony on the matter. Further, during closing arguments, the State stated multiple times that the friend testified that the victim did not have a weapon. The defendant was convicted of his charges, after which he appealed.
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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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When a person is convicted of a crime in Washington, in addition to any sentence or fines imposed following the conviction, the person may lose the right to possess a firearm. Thus, if the person is subsequently found to be in possession of a firearm he or she may be charged with unlawful possession of a firearm. A Washington court of appeals recently discussed what constitutes sufficient evidence of possession, in a case in which it overturned a conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm. If you were charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, you should consult a capable Washington criminal defense attorney proficient in handling firearm cases to discuss what evidence the State may introduce against you.

Discovery of the Firearm

Reportedly, the defendant was under Department of Corrections supervision. The terms of his supervision required him to provide a valid address. The defendant reported he was living with his girlfriend, after which the defendant’s supervising community corrections officer conducted a routine home search. The father of the defendant’s girlfriend was the only person home during the search and confirmed that the defendant had recently moved into the home. Additionally, there was clothing that appeared to belong to a man throughout the home, including clothing the defendant had been observed wearing. During the search, the officer found a firearm in the living room. DNA testing revealed that the defendant’s fingerprint was on the firearm. The defendant was subsequently charged with and found guilty of unlawful possession of a firearm.

The law affords individuals certain rights, including the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. In other words, the police are not permitted to detain or search a person without a reasonable basis. Further, the State is precluded from introducing any evidence obtained during an unlawful stop against a defendant. If a conviction is based on evidence obtained during an unlawful stop, it may be grounds for a reversal of the conviction, as evidenced in a recent case in which a Washington court of appeals vacated a conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm. If you or a loved one are facing charges of unlawful possession of a firearm, you should meet with a skilled Washington criminal defense attorney to discuss your available defenses.

Facts Surrounding the Defendant’s Charges

Allegedly, the defendant was a seated passenger in a car parked in the parking lot of a grocery store. A man who parked next to the defendant’s car, observed the defendant holding a gun on his lap. The man went into the grocery store and called 911 to report what he observed. An officer responded to the call, an observed the car in which the defendant was a passenger leaving the lot. The officer subsequently conducted a felony stop. The driver, who claimed she was the owner of the car, denied there were any firearms in the car and gave the officer consent to search the car. It was determined that the defendant had prior felony convictions and was under Department of Corrections (DOC) supervision, so DOC was contacted to conduct the search.

Under Washington law, the police must have reasonable suspicion to justify a traffic stop. If you are stopped without a valid reason, and subsequently charged with a crime due to evidence produced during the stop, you have grounds to suppress the evidence at trial.

If the evidence is nonetheless admitted and you are subsequently convicted, you may be able to have the conviction overturned, as illustrated in State v. Browna case recently ruled on by the Court of Appeals of Washington. If you are charged with a DUI, it is in your best interest to consult an experienced Washington criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to formulate a plan for your defense.

Facts Regarding the Traffic Stop

It is alleged that a police officer observed the defendant turning left, and saw the tires of his vehicle briefly crossing the divider line. He continued to follow the defendant and observed the defendant turning on his left-hand indicator as he entered the lane, then shut off his indicator before turning. No other traffic was present at the time of the turn. The officer then stopped the defendant for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. The defendant was subsequently charged with a DUI. During the trial the defendant filed a motion to suppress any evidence produced during the stop, arguing the stop was not justified. The court denied the motion and the defendant was convicted of DUI. He then appealed.

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If you face charges of unlawful possession of a firearm, it is essential to retain an attorney that will seek the prohibition of any evidence that should not be admitted against you at trial. Recently, a Washington appellate court upheld a defendant’s conviction, finding that his attorney’s failure to object to the state’s admission of written statements regarding his alleged firearm crimes did not constitute a prejudicial error. If you face charges of a weapons crime, you should meet with a skilled Washington weapons charge defense attorney who will fight vigorously to preclude any evidence the state should not be permitted to introduce against you.

Facts Regarding the Alleged Crime and Investigation

Reportedly, the defendant stayed at his brother’s apartment on occasion. The defendant did not have a key to the apartment and was only permitted in the apartment with his brother’s permission. The defendant was one of few people who knew his brother owned a gun and where it was stored. The defendant’s brother came home one evening to find his apartment window broken and his gun missing. He contacted the police and advised them as to what had occurred, and also claimed that his brother was the likely suspect. He provided the police with a written statement as well. The defendant allegedly texted his brother, asking why he was a suspect and stating he was only borrowing the gun and intended to return it.

Allegedly, the defendant’s brother found the gun in a plastic bag on the handle of his front door a few weeks later. He contacted the police and provided them with a second written statement. The defendant was subsequently charged with and convicted of first-degree burglary, theft of a firearm, and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. The defendant appealed his conviction, arguing that his attorney provided ineffective assistance of counsel due to his failure to object to the introduction of his brother’s written statements at trial. On appeal, the court affirmed.

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In many criminal cases, whether a defendant is convicted of a greater or lesser offense depends on the state’s evidence against the defendant. As such, if you are charged with a crime, it is important to know what evidence the state intends to introduce against you and seek to exclude any prohibited evidence that may negatively affect your case.

In Washington v. Heyer, the Court of Appeals of the State of Washington affirmed a defendant’s conviction for third-degree assault, finding that testimony of a treating physician was not necessary to lay a foundation for a victim’s medical records to be admitted into evidence at trial. If you face assault charges, you should retain a skilled Washington criminal defense attorney to analyze the facts of your case and assist you in formulating a defense.

Factual Background

Allegedly, the defendant was at a car auction, where he bid on the same car as his victim. After the defendant won the car, the victim stated the defendant could use his commissary money to pay for the car, referring to the defendant’s prior imprisonment. In response, the defendant punched the victim in the face one or two times. The defendant was charged with second-degree assault. He waived his right to a jury and proceeded to a bench trial. During the trial the victim testified his nose would not stop bleeding following the assault and he was referred to a specialist due to a fracture. The defendant’s counsel objected to this testimony on the grounds that it was hearsay.

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If you are accused of a DUI, whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense depends on whether you have previously been convicted of vehicular assault under Washington law. As the Washington Court of Appeals explained in Washington v. Allen, however, not all vehicular assaults are treated equally in terms of evaluating subsequent charges. Rather, only certain vehicular assault convictions serve as a basis for enhanced charges. If you are charged with a DUI, it is essential to your defense to retain an experienced Washington DUI defense attorney to analyze the circumstances regarding your arrest and what evidence the state may attempt to introduce against you.

Facts of the Case

Purportedly, the defendant in Allen was charged with a felony DUI, due to a prior conviction of vehicular assault under the influence. The trial was bifurcated per the defendant’s request. The first issue submitted to the jury was whether the defendant was guilty of DUI, which the jury determined he was. The second issue submitted to the jury was whether the defendant’s prior conviction for vehicular assault provided sufficient grounds to convict the defendant of a felony offense. On the second issue, the state introduced records from the defendant’s prior case as well as testimony from the arresting officer in the defendant’s prior case as to the defendant’s behavior at the time of his prior arrest. Based on the evidence presented, the jury found that the defendant was previously convicted of vehicular assault while under the influence of alcohol. The defendant subsequently appealed the jury’s finding regarding his prior conviction.

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Under Washington law, evidence that a victim’s account of an alleged assault has remained consistent is inadmissible to corroborate the victim’s testimony. As outlined in Washington v. Kleinsmith, however, a failure to make a timely objection to inadmissible testimony will result in a waiver of the objection. In Kleinsmith, the Court of Appeals of the State of Washington upheld the defendant’s conviction for second-degree assault regardless of the fact the prosecutor introduced inadmissible testimony regarding the victim’s credibility, due to the defendant’s counsel’s failure to make a timely objection to the testimony. If you are charged with assault, it is essential to your defense to retain an experienced Washington assault defense attorney who will fight to have any inadmissible testimony precluded from evidence.

Facts of the Case

Reportedly, the defendant and her alleged victim were neighbors in an apartment building. The victim heard someone sag to “get out” as she walked past the defendant’s apartment, and when she turned around, she saw a woman with a butcher knife. The victim further alleged the woman began to chase her and screamed, “don’t come back.” The victim reported the incident to an employee in the building’s front office, who called the police.  The victim described her assailant as a blonde woman wearing a t-shirt and shorts. When the police arrived, the building employee advised them that the defendant matched the physical description of the assailant.

Allegedly, the police repeatedly knocked on the defendant’s door, but she would not answer. The police eventually opened the defendant’s apartment with a key. When they entered the apartment, the defendant came from the back of the apartment and advised she was sleeping. The defendant was arrested and informed of her Miranda rights, after which she requested an attorney. She asked the officers to retrieve items from her apartment, and one of the officers noticed a large knife by the kitchen sink. As the defendant was escorted from the building, the victim advised the officers she was “one hundred percent” sure that the defendant was her assailant. The defendant did not testify at the trial. The building employee and arresting officer both testified and stated the victim’s story remained consistent. The defendant was convicted of assault in the second degree, after which she appealed.

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Under Washington law, to convict a defendant of third-degree assault of a law enforcement officer the state is required to prove the officer was performing his or her job duties at the time of the assault and that the defendant intended to hit the officer. In Washington v. Eagle, the Court of Appeals of the State of Washington upheld the defendant’s conviction for third-degree assault of an officer, finding the officer’s testimony that he was performing his job at the time of the incident and believed the defendant intended to hit him was sufficient evidence of the crime charged. If you face assault charges, it is important to retain a Washington assault defense attorney who will aggressively advocate on your behalf.

Facts of the Case

Purportedly, a bystander called the police after she heard a man and woman fighting. When the police arrived, they spoke with a woman who stated the defendant hit her and pushed her to the ground. One of the police officers called the defendant, and the defendant agreed to meet with the officer at a park. After the defendant arrived, he spoke with the officer. The officer then advised the defendant he was under arrest. The defendant did not surrender to the arrest, and an altercation ensued, during which the officer had to force the defendant to the ground. The altercation was recorded via a surveillance camera. The defendant was charged with fourth-degree assault of the woman, but the charge was dropped. He was also charged with third-degree assault of a law enforcement officer.

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