Articles Posted in Firearms

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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Under Washington law, a person who has lost their firearm rights due to a conviction of certain felonies may petition the court to have his or her firearm rights restored after a five year period without any convictions or charges. In State of Washington v. Edgar Dennis III, the Supreme Court of the State of Washington held that a person eligible for restitution of firearm rights after five years need not prove that the five year period immediately precedes the application for restoration. If you were prohibited from possessing firearms due to a prior conviction and would like to have your right to possess a firearm reinstated, you should consult an experienced Washington weapons charge defense attorney to discuss your options.

Facts of the Case

Allegedly, in 1991, Petitioner was convicted of robbery, assault, and two felony violations of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, after which he was prohibited from possessing a firearm.  Petitioner was also convicted of third-degree assault in 1998. Petitioner was not convicted of any crimes for the next fifteen years. Then, in 2014, petitioner was convicted of negligent driving, which is a misdemeanor. In 2016, petitioner filed a petition for restoration of his firearm rights, without disclosing his 2014 conviction. The state objected, arguing that the law required a five year period in which the petitioner was free of convictions, which must immediately precede the petition. The court denied the petition. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, arguing that any five year period without convictions met the five-year requirement set forth under the law. The court denied the motion, after which the petitioner appealed. The appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling, after which petitioner appealed to the Supreme Court of the State of Washington.

A felony conviction may affect your ability to possess a handgun under Washington law. If you are prohibited from possessing a firearm due to a conviction, the state must advise you of the prohibition at the time of your conviction, and the state must show that you were advised of the prohibition to prosecute you for unlawful possession of a firearm. In State of Washington v. Joaquin David Garcia, the Supreme Court of the State of Washington held, however, that a suspect could be convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm even if he or she was not advised of the prohibition at the time of his or her conviction, if he or she later became aware of the prohibition. If you are charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, it is important to confer with a knowledgeable Washington weapons charge defense attorney to ensure your rights are protected.

Facts of the Case

Purportedly, the suspect’s girlfriend advised her physician during an appointment that the suspect threatened her and was in the waiting room with a gun. Upon arrival of the police, the suspect allegedly admitted he had a gun but stated it was his girlfriend’s. The suspect further advised the officer he was a convicted felon and was not permitted to carry a gun. The officer found a gun on the suspect’s person.

A famous song from the 1960s, borrowing from Jewish and Christian scriptures, states that there is a “time to every purpose under heaven.” Encounters with police can be like that. Which is to say, when interacting with the police, there is a time to be very forthcoming, and there is a time to refrain from speaking. Suffice it to say, whatever the specifics of your situation may be, the first thing you say when you encounter a law enforcement officer should probably not be, “I did it.” One man from southwestern Washington made that mistake in his case, a case in which the Washington Court of Appeals upheld his conviction.

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One of the proclaimed hallmarks of the United States, including Washington’s, judicial system is the fact that everyone is innocent until they are proven guilty. This applies to all people. So this applies to any accused person no matter what they are accused of. So this should apply to people accused of domestic violence.

However, if you or someone you love has been accused of domestic violence you probably feel like you are already being punished. You probably especially feel unjustly punished if you are the alleged victim and had no intention of pressing charges but your partner was arrested anyway because of the mandatory arrest law. You will have had a no contact order put on you. This will have made it impossible to converse with your partner either directly or indirectly. It has probably kept you out of your home. It may have made it difficult to go to work. It will have kept you from any children you have with your partner. You have had your gun rights taken away. If you have a job where a gun is required, you are out of work. You may have been ordered not to drink alcohol or have had other restrictions put on you. You probably already feel stigmatized by your family, friends or any else who is aware of the accusations.

Undoubtedly you want this whole experience to be over. Your defense attorney is required to bring you any plea bargain that the prosecution proposes. When he does it is likely that he will counsel you against taking it. You, on the other hand, may see it as a way out your current mess and may very well want to take it. It would be wise to listen to why he counsels against it. He knows what you are facing for the rest of your life if you accept. Continue reading

Are you facing a weapons charge? In Washington there are many possible weapons charges and they are all taken seriously. They can stand by themselves, such as illegal possession of a firearm, or they can be in conjunction with another criminal charge, as is the case with armed robbery. You’re understandably concerned what this will mean to your future. You are possibly upset and thinking, “Don’t I have the right to bear arms in this country?” That right does exist and Washington does uphold it but they have placed certain legal restrictions on that right.

As mentioned there are a wide variety of possible gun crimes but they fit into a few categories. The first category of weapons charges is if a gun is used to commit a crime – this can result in harsher sentencing. This is because Washington has in its laws what it calls weapons enhancers. This means that you can get sentenced for a crime and then extra time added if there was a weapon involved. Almost anything that could potentially cause harm can be raised by the prosecution as a weapon whether it was a gun, knife or even a baseball bat. They will then probably ask for a weapons enhancer to be attached. If the weapon was a gun it is rather difficult to claim it was anything other than a weapon – in fact firearms have a longer enhancement than any other weapon. The extra time will be added to the end of whatever other sentence is faced and will not be able to be reduced. There are, in fact, people who have spent more time in jail due to the weapons enhancement than they were sentenced for the actual crime. Continue reading

You or a loved one has been accused of a crime involving firearms. To make matters worse, it is classified as a federal crime. You may be wondering what makes it a federal crime and what difference that makes. Once classified, the difference between state and federal crimes is different procedures and stiffer penalties; you need a defense attorney who is licensed with the federal court and understands these differences and the stakes involved. Keep in mind that Washington state also has its own firearm laws and if there was any suspected crime against Washington statutes that is not being classified as federal you may be facing additional charges and penalties.

There are several firearm crimes that are immediately considered federal. Selling firearms across state lines without a license to do so is a federal crime. Knowingly falsifying information to purchase firearms, known as straw purchases, is a federal crime. Distorting a serial number in any way is a federal crime. Possession of a firearm by certain persons is a federal crime. The list of persons prohibited from owning a firearm under federal guidelines is as follows: convicted felons, fugitives, addicts to illegal substances, those who have been committed to a mental institution, illegal aliens, those dishonorably discharged from the military, those who have given up US citizenship, anyone with a restraining order against them, and anyone that has been convicted of a crime with a domestic violence designation. Knowingly selling a firearm to anyone that would be in that grouping is also a federal crime. Usually federal firearms crimes carry a penalty of 5-10 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000. This is per offense so if there were multiple firearms involved the penalty would be multiplied by however many as each firearm is considered its own offense. Plus if the federal firearms crime is in connected with the committing of a violent crime there can be an additional 25 years in federal prison added on top of that.

You, or your loved one, need not give up hope. You have options for defense. The burden of proof is on the prosecution – they have to prove every element of the crime. Ask yourself some questions.  Is your charged based on the person to whom you sold the gun? And if so, did you only just now finding out that that person was not allowed a firearm? It is not a crime to be tricked or deceived.  Though it may be left to a jury to determine whether it is believable or not that you did not know. These kind of potential defense before a jury can win your case if you choose to have a trial.  They can also be used for leverage in negotiating.

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