Articles Posted in Firearms

In many cases in which a person is charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, the evidence in support of the charges was obtained without a warrant. Evidence obtained without a warrant may be unlawful, and the State may be precluded from introducing it at trial. In some cases, however, unlawfully obtained evidence may be admitted under the independent source doctrine, as recently discussed by a case decided by a Washington appellate court. If you are a Washington resident charged with unlawful possession of a firearm it is essential to retain a zealous Washington weapons charge defense attorney to assist you in setting forth a strong defense.

Facts of the Case and Procedural Background

It is alleged that police officers responded to a report of a burglary at a business, by the owner of the business. The police then stopped the defendant outside of the business. The owner reported that the defendant was a prior employee who had been fired a week earlier. The defendant admitted he had been living in a room in the business. The owner and the defendant then became involved in a verbal argument and entered into the room.

It is reported that the police followed the men, and observed a handgun near the defendant. The defendant was handcuffed, and one of the police officers opened a cabinet to ensure no one was hiding inside. The cabinet contained two guns. The police then obtained a search warrant and found multiple firearms and amphetamines. The defendant was charged with four counts of unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawful possession of a controlled substance.

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Under Washington law, a person can be convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm if the person has previously been convicted of a serious crime and he or she possesses or owns a firearm. Thus, one of the elements the State must prove is a prior conviction for a serious offense. Recently, in a case ruled on by the Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 3, the court discussed what constitutes sufficient evidence of a predicate conviction in an unlawful firearm possession case. If you live in Washington and are faced with charges of unlawful firearm possession it is crucial to engage and assertive Washington weapons charge defense attorney to fight to help you retain your rights.

Factual and Procedural Background of the Case

Allegedly, the police responded to reports of a fight at the defendant’s home. When the police arrived, the defendant admitted he had guns in his house. The defendant then gave the police a rifle. The police subsequently conducted a criminal history check on the defendant, which revealed the defendant had previously been convicted of felonies in Georgia, that prohibited him from possessing firearms.

It is reported the police then obtained a warrant to search the defendant’s home. During the search, they recovered a rifle. The defendant denied, however, that he had previously been convicted of crimes in Georgia, stating that it was his brother, not him, who was convicted. The defendant was charged with two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm and following a trial, was convicted on all counts. He subsequently appealed, arguing the State failed to prove he had prior felony convictions.

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Although in some cases a person will be arrested during the commission of a crime, in many cases a person will be arrested after the alleged crime is committed, based on circumstantial evidence. While circumstantial evidence is admissible to prove guilt, the State must nonetheless produce sufficient evidence to obtain a conviction. Recently, a Washington appellate court analyzed the sufficiency of the evidence, in a case in which the defendant was convicted of unlawful possession and theft of a firearm. If you are charged with unlawful possession of a firearm or any other weapons charge it is essential to retain a skilled Washington criminal defense attorney to develop persuasive arguments in your defense.

Factual Background

It is reported that the victim, a 79-year-old man owned over two dozen guns that he stored in a locked gun cabinet. The victim’s neighbor noticed that a female acquaintance visited the victim on occasion. On a day in June 2017, the victim left the female acquaintance alone at the home. The neighbor then observed the defendant park a red minivan near the victim’s home, and subsequently run out of the back of the home with a large bundle. The neighbor called the police, who detained the defendant, and entered the home and observed several guns lying on the bed.

Allegedly, the victim returned home during the investigation but refused to enter the home and inspect his gun cabinet. The police released the defendant, but after the victim entered his home and realized several guns were missing, they located and arrested the defendant, who had a single round of ammunition in his pocket. Upon searching the defendant’s minivan, the police found a .22-caliber pistol, ammunition, and several gun cleaning supplies. The defendant was charged with and convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm and theft of a firearm. He appealed, arguing there was insufficient evidence to support either conviction.

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Criminal defendants are afforded numerous rights and protections that continue even after a conviction. For example, a defendant has a right to be present and allocute at any sentencing or resentencing hearing. A Washington Appellate court recently discussed what falls under the statutory parameters of a sentencing hearing in a case in which the State filed a motion to amend a sentence to correct a facial invalidity pertaining to firearm enhancements. If you live in Washington and are currently charged with a crime involving the use of a firearm it is essential to retain a skilled Washington weapons charge defense attorney to aid you in formulating a strong defense.

Factual Background of the Case

Allegedly, the defendant was charged with and convicted of second-degree and first-degree kidnapping, second-degree assault, and harassment. Firearm enhancements were imposed for each count, with the exception of the harassment charge. A sentencing hearing was held, during which the court sentenced the defendant to consecutive sentences for each crime. At the hearing, the State requested that the firearm enhancements run concurrently. Thus, the court included a handwritten note regarding the firearm enhancements. The court failed to identify the total number of months of confinement, however.

In any case in which the State charges a defendant with theft of a firearm, the State must introduce adequate evidence of the charge to support a conviction. If a defendant is subsequently convicted and appeals on the grounds of insufficient evidence, the defendant effectively admits the truth of the State’s evidence but argues the evidence introduced by the State was insufficient to support a conviction. This was explained in a recent Washington appellate court case in which the court affirmed the defendant’s convictions for burglary and theft of a firearm. If you are charged with theft of a firearm or any other weapons charge it is critical to engage a knowledgeable Washington weapons charge defense attorney to help you develop a strong defense.

Factual Background of the Case

Allegedly, the defendant and his girlfriend lived in a shed on a female friend’s property. The defendant rented a storage unit, in which he and his girlfriend and female friend stored their belongings and stolen property. Shortly after the defendant began renting the unit, someone broke into three other storage units in the same property. A six-foot high fence surrounded the property, and an access code was required to open the gate. An investigation revealed that the defendant’s unique code had been used to enter the property ten times over three days.

It is further reported that security footage showed the defendant and his female friend exiting a car near the storage units that were robbed. One of the storage units that was burglarized held a gun safe that contained eight firearms. All of the firearms were missing following the burglary, and none were recovered. The defendant was charged with two counts of burglary, theft of a firearm, and unlawful possession of a firearm. The defendant was convicted of all charges except unlawful possession of a firearm. He subsequently appealed, arguing there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction.
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In any Washington criminal case, there are procedural and evidentiary rules with which both the State and the defendant must comply. If a defendant is convicted based on evidence introduced by the State at trial that lacks a proper foundation or was improperly obtained it can result in a reversal of a conviction. A Washington Court of Appeals recently addressed the issue of whether the evidentiary rule of corpus delecti applies in a case in which the defendant entered a guilty plea for robbery in the first degree with a firearm enhancement. If you are a resident of Washington and are currently charged with a crime that includes a firearm enhancement it is important to meet with a skillful Washington weapons charge defense attorney to discuss the impact the firearm enhancement may have on your case and what evidence the State needs to obtain a conviction.

Factual Background of the Case

Reportedly, in November 2015, the defendant and another person broke into the home of an elderly man with the intent of robbing the man. Upon entering the home, one of them forced the elderly man to the ground, pointed a gun at him and demanded he relinquish his property, while the other person searched the property. The defendant and his co-conspirator ultimately left the elderly man’s home with a substantial amount of property, after which they were arrested. The defendant was charged with first-degree robbery with a firearm enhancement, first-degree burglary, and unlawful imprisonment.

It is alleged that the defendant’s attorney advised the defendant that he would probably lose if the case proceeded to trial and would receive a substantial sentence. Thus, the defendant pleaded guilty, advising the court that he entered his plea knowingly and voluntarily. The defendant subsequently appealed his conviction, arguing in part that his conviction violated the corpus delecti rule.
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It is the duty of the police to ensure the safety of the public as a whole. In performing their job duties, however, the police are not permitted to violate the rights of individual citizens. One of the rights afforded individuals is the right to be free from unlawful seizure. If a person is unlawfully stopped, anything found during the seizure, such as a weapon, should be precluded from evidence in any trial for charges arising out of the seizure. A Washington appellate court recently addressed what constitutes a seizure in a case in which the defendant was convicted of unlawful firearm possession due to evidence found during an unlawful seizure. If you are charged with a weapons crime it is important to know how a conviction may impact your liberties and to engage an assertive Washington weapons charge defense attorney to help you present a strong defense.

Facts Regarding the Stop

It is alleged that the police received a call at 2:00 am regarding a suspicious vehicle in an alley. The caller stated that an unfamiliar vehicle was parked at the end of a dead-end street with its lights off. Two police officers responded to the call, each in his own patrol car. The patrol cars drove down the alley, but the police did not activate the cars’ overhead lights. The officers parked their cars and by doing so blocked the vehicle. The officers then approached the vehicle with flashlights and found the defendant and a woman in the vehicle. The defendant and his companion provided the police with identification, and the defendant informed the officers that he owned the vehicle.

Reportedly, the officers were informed by dispatch that the defendant was a convicted felon but that he did not have any outstanding warrants. The officers then spotted a gun in the backseat of the vehicle and made the defendant exit the vehicle. The officers subsequently obtained a search warrant and removed a loaded gun from the back seat. The defendant was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm. Prior to the trial, he moved to suppress all evidence and statements due to unlawful seizure. Following a hearing, the trial court ruled that the seizure was based on a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, and therefore, was lawful. The defendant was convicted and sentenced to thirty-six months imprisonment, after which he appealed.

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Under Washington law, the State must prove each element of a crime to rightfully convict a defendant. For example, if a defendant is charged with possessing a stolen firearm the State must provide evidence showing that the defendant possessed a stolen firearm and acted with knowledge that the firearm was stolen. If the State does not have strong enough evidence to show the defendant actually knew the firearm he or she possessed was stolen in most cases, the State may try to rely on profile testimony in support of the charge. This was illustrated in a recent Washington appellate case, where a defendant’s conviction for possession of a stolen firearm was overturned after the State relied on testimony that because the defendant was a convicted felon he was more likely to possess a stolen firearm. If you are charged with a firearm crime in Washington it is critical to retain a seasoned Washington weapons charge defense attorney to assist you in precluding any evidence the State should not be permitted to introduce against you.

Facts Regarding the Crime and Trial

Allegedly, in June 2015, the defendant was confronted by a police officer pursuant to an outstanding warrant. The defendant ran away from the officer and threw a gun while he was running. The officer ultimately apprehended the defendant and retrieved the gun, which was reported stolen in October 2014. The defendant, who was a convicted felon, was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of a stolen firearm.

It is reported that during the trial, the State introduced testimony from multiple police officers regarding how convicted felons obtain guns. The officers each testified that “they” will steal them or buy them off the street. Further, the prosecuting attorney in his closing argument stated that it would be impossible to prove the defendant had actual knowledge that the gun was stolen, but “that’s how these guys are getting them.” The defendant was convicted of both charges after which he appealed the possession of a stolen firearm charge.
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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.

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