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Articles Posted in Firearms

hidden-guns-300x176The state and federal constitutions generally protect people from unreasonable searches, which means, in part, that absent exigent circumstances the police must have a warrant to conduct a search of a person’s body or property. If a police officer seeks a warrant to search a property based on information from an informant, their request should only be granted if they demonstrate probable cause to believe that the items in question will be found on the property. Recently, a Washington court discussed what constitutes probable cause in a case in which the defendant appealed his unlawful possession of a firearm conviction. If you are charged with a weapons crime, it is in your best interest to talk to a Tacoma weapons charge defense lawyer at Smith & White, PLLC as soon as possible.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with unlawful possession of firearms and other offenses after police found weapons in his apartment during a search pursuant to a warrant. The police sought the warrant after receiving information from a confidential informant indicating that the defendant was selling illicit substances and had weapons in his possession, which was unlawful because he was a convicted felon. The case proceeded to trial, and the defendant was convicted on all counts. He appealed, arguing in part that the warrant was not supported by probable cause.

Probable Cause for Issuing Warrants

The Washington and United States Constitutions dictate that search warrants will be issued upon a finding of probable cause. The appellate court explained that probable cause is present when the affidavit in support of a warrant sets forth facts and circumstances that are adequate to establish a reasonable inference that the defendant is most likely engaged in criminal activity and that evidence of their unlawful behavior may be found at a specific location. Continue reading

firearmII-225x300Under Washington law, people convicted of felonies typically lose their right to possess firearms. As such, if they are found with a weapon in their possession, they may be charged with criminal offenses. The State does not actually have to catch a person holding a gun to convict them of unlawfully possessing a weapon, though, as discussed in a recent Washington opinion in which the court affirmed the defendant’s conviction for unlawfully possessing a gun. If you are accused of a firearms offense, it is advisable to consult a Washington weapons charges defense lawyer to discuss your options for seeking a favorable outcome.

Facts of the Case

Allegedly, the defendant took his girlfriend to the hospital after she was shot in the back. He ran into the emergency department screaming that she had a gunshot wound and then immediately left the building. He later returned and reported that they were cleaning, and he heard a pop and saw that his girlfriend had fallen to the floor. He later reported that he accidentally shot her.

It is reported that the State charged the defendant, a convicted felon, with assault with a deadly weapon and unlawful possession of a firearm. A jury convicted him, after which he appealed, arguing in part that the State lacked sufficient evidence to obtain a conviction for the weapons charge. Continue reading

locker-of-guns-300x214In Washington, people convicted of felonies are often barred from owning or possessing firearms. As such, if the police find guns in the possession of a convicted felon, it can lead to criminal charges and sentence enhancements. Further, the penalties can increase with the number of weapons found. Recently, a Washington court issued an opinion explaining the grounds for imposing multiple firearms enhancements in criminal cases, in a matter in which the defendant appealed his sentence. If you are accused of a weapons crime, it is advisable to meet with a Washington weapons charges defense lawyer regarding your potential defenses.

The Defendant’s Arrest, Trial, and Sentencing

It is reported that a confidential informant advised the police that the defendant, a convicted felon on parole, possessed two weapons: a rifle and a shotgun. He sold the weapons to an undercover officer the following day. Approximately three months later, he was indicted on an unlawful possession of a firearm charge, and was arrested the following day. Officers searched his residence and found a revolver. They searched his storage unit as well and found two more guns.

Allegedly, the defendant entered a guilty plea. The pre-sentence report recommended, among other things, a level-two enhancement because the crime involved five firearms. The enhancement was applied, after which the defendant appealed. Continue reading

Under both Washington and Federal law, people are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures. This means, in part, that the police cannot detain or interrogate people without a warrant, with few exceptions. One such exception is the Terry stop, which is an investigatory stop conducted due to a suspicion that a person is engaged in criminal activity. The scope of the Terry stop exception is narrow, though, and searches that fall outside of the scope may constitute custodial arrests without a warrant in violation of constitutional rights. The standards for reviewing the nature of a stop were recently explained by a Washington court, in an opinion issued in a case in which the defendant appealed his conviction for unlawful possession of firearms. If you are charged with a weapons offense, it is smart to consult a Washington weapons charges defense lawyer to assess whether your rights were violated.

The Defendant’s Stop

It is reported that the defendant was driving his vehicle when an officer recognized him and followed him to a nearby restaurant parking lot. The officer was aware that there was a warrant out for the defendant’s arrest and that he was a convicted felon. The officer, along with two other officers, tackled the defendant inside of the restaurant, held him down and handcuffed him. They then advised him that he was under arrest for a felony crime. One of the officers then questioned the defendant, who admitted he had a gun.

Allegedly, the officer located the weapon, and the defendant was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm. He moved to suppress the handgun found during the search, arguing the police did not have the lawful authority to search and detain him. the court denied his motion, finding that the Terry stop exception applied, and the defendant appealed. Continue reading

People convicted of felony crimes are often prohibited from owning weapons, and if they are stopped with guns in their possession, they can face criminal charges. Weapons crimes, like many offenses, often require the prosecution to establish the defendant’s intent. Thus, if the State cannot show that defendant knew it was illegal to possess a weapon, it should not be able to obtain a conviction for the crime of being a felon in possession of a firearm. This was demonstrated in a recent Washington opinion in which the court explained what the prosecution must prove with regard to the defendant’s mental status to establish guilt in weapons cases. If you are charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, it is prudent to meet with a Washington gun crime defense lawyer to assess your options.

The Defendant’s Arrest

It is alleged that the defendant has a storied criminal past, including convictions for multiple felonies. In 2011, an anonymous source advised a federal agent that the defendant possessed weapons and was selling drugs out of his home. As the defendant was on probation, the agent contacted a State corrections officer who conducted a probation search of the defendant’s home. The search revealed two guns, ammunition, and other weapons paraphernalia.

It is reported that the defendant was arrested and charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of federal law and other crimes. He was convicted on all counts, after which he filed numerous appeals. Continue reading

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

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

People charged with weapons crimes in Washington may face significant penalties. In some instances, it is within the discretion of the sentencing court to determine whether the circumstances warrant a lesser sentence than called for by the guidelines. Extraordinary sentences will only be granted in certain circumstances, though, as demonstrated in a recent Washington ruling. If you are accused of committing a crime involving a firearm, it is advisable to meet with a knowledgeable Washington weapons charge defense attorney to discuss your options.

The Defendant’s Conviction and Sentence

It is reported that the defendant was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and robbery with a firearm enhancement. He pleaded guilty to both charges. He was nineteen years old at the time he committed the offenses. Thus, during the sentencing hearing, he requested that he receive an exceptional sentence due to his youth. For the base sentence, the trial court imposed a sentence of fifty-four months imprisonment, which was below the standard range. For the firearm enhancement, though, the court found that it did not have the discretion to reduce the standard sentence or to allow it to run at the same time as the base sentence and sentenced the defendant to sixty additional months in prison. The defendant then appealed.

Discretion in Sentencing for Convictions of Firearm Charges

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling. The court was not persuaded by the defendant’s argument that the trial court failed to acknowledge its discretion to reduce the length of the firearm enhancement or to permit it to run at the same time as the base sentence, as an exceptional sentence based on the defendant’s youth. Instead, the court noted that it recently ruled on the precise issue at hand, nothing that trial courts do not have the authority to impose an exceptional downward sentence for a firearm enhancement, in cases in which the defendant was not a juvenile at the time the crime was committed.

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While criminal defendants can be charged with multiple crimes that are similar, they cannot be charged numerous times for the same offense. Thus, if a defendant is charged with different degrees of unlawful possession of a firearm for a single uninterrupted act, it may constitute a violation of the right against double jeopardy. This was the topic of a recent Washington ruling in which the court vacated one of a defendant’s two convictions for the same act. If you are charged with a weapons crime, it is in your best interest to speak to a Washington weapons charge defense attorney to determine your rights.

The Defendant’s Charges

It is reported that while the defendant was being arrested for the possession of marijuana as a minor, a handgun fell out of his pocket. He had previous convictions that prohibited him from possessing a weapon. Thus, he was charged with two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm, one first-degree charge, and one second-degree. He was convicted on both counts, after which he appealed, arguing his convictions violated double jeopardy.

Double Jeopardy with Regards to Weapons Charges

Pursuant to the United States and Washington Constitutions, no person can be put in jeopardy twice for the same offense. This is known as the prohibition against double jeopardy, and it prohibits the State from imposing numerous punishments for the same crime. If a defendant is convicted of violating one law multiple times, each conviction can only withstand analysis under double jeopardy standards if each one is a separate unit of prosecution.

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People convicted of felonies often lose the right to own weapons, and the mere act of possessing a firearm can result in significant penalties. The State must prove each element of a charged firearm offense through competent evidence, though, and if it cannot, it should not be able to obtain a conviction. Recently, a Washington court assessed what constitutes sufficient proof of possession of a real firearm, in an opinion arising out of an appeal of an unlawful possession conviction. If you are accused of illegally owning a gun, it is in your best interest to consult a skilled Washington weapons charge defense attorney to assess your rights.

The Defendant’s Arrest and Trial

It is reported that a police officer approached a car that was parked in a closed parking lot. There were two people sitting in the front seats, and the defendant was sitting alone in the back seat. The officer noticed a semiautomatic weapon on the floor of the car by the defendant’s feet. The defendant would not keep his hands in view, after which he was removed from the car. The officer obtained consent to search the vehicle and retrieved the gun.

Allegedly, he then obtained a warrant and found a holster for the gun under a blanket in the backseat, illicit substances, and paraphernalia related to the sale of illegal drugs. The defendant was charged with multiple gun and drug crimes. He was convicted, after which he appealed, arguing in part that there was insufficient evidence to prove that he was in possession of an actual firearm.

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