Articles Posted in General Defense Info

While ending someone’s life is typically a brutal and traumatizing event, it is not always viewed as murder by the law. For example, in many cases, self-defense is a valid defense to a murder charge. In cases where one person accidentally kills another person, it may not be murder, but it could result in a conviction for other charges. It is essential for anyone facing murder charges to retain an attorney who will thoroughly explain to the jury any defense for the defendant’s actions.

The Supreme Court of Washington recently analyzed whether the court erred in failing to instruct the jury on excusable homicide, in Washington v. Henderson, a case where the defendant argued he killed the victim in self-defense. If you are charged with a crime, you should meet with a skilled Washington criminal defense attorney to discuss your available defenses. 

Factual Background

Allegedly, the defendant and his victim were involved in a verbal altercation at a gas station. At one point, the victim lunged at the defendant and appeared to reach for his pocket. The defendant then drew a gun from his pocket and shot and killed the victim. He was subsequently charged with felony murder based on second-degree assault with a deadly weapon. During the trial, the defendant argued he was acting in self-defense and accidentally killed the victim. The court instructed the jury in justifiable homicide but not in excusable homicide. The jury convicted the defendant after which he appealed, arguing the trial court erred in refusing to instruct the jury in excusable homicide. The court of appeals reversed, after which the State petitioned the Supreme Court of Washington for review.

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A person does not lose their liberties simply because he or she is charged with a crime. Rather, under both state and federal law, criminal defendants are afforded with certain rights and protections, including the right to a speedy trial.

The Court of Appeals of Washington recently analyzed what constitutes a violation of the right to a speedy trial, in State v. Holcomb, a case where the defendant’s trial was delayed on several occasions. If you currently facing criminal charges, you should retain an experienced Washington criminal defense attorney to assist you in protecting your rights.

Factual Background

The defendant was charged with first and second-degree assault, both with firearm enhancements, violating a no-contact order, and tampering with a witness. He was subsequently tried and convicted of all charges. He then appealed, alleging in part, that the trial court violated the time for trial rule and his right to a speedy trial. On appeal, the court affirmed.

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By James J. White, Directing Attorney at Smith & White, PLLC.

It can be bad enough you did not realize you were on probation. But many cases do have a “stealth” probation. You do not have a probation officer, you do not need to do anything affirmative for the court, yet you are still on probation. You maybe did not know or totally forgot and then something unexpected happens.

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There has been plenty of press about the opiate epidemic that has swept the United States.  CDC opioid death statistics.  How the doctors neglect to warn people about the addictive properties of the painkillers which they are liberally prescribing and whether the FDA should approve such addictive substances to begin with are the subject for another article.  Deceptive Marketing of Drugs.  The hard truth that we must face, regardless how we got here, is that there is a crime wave that accompanies any opiate epidemic.

Fortunately, the vast majority of crimes associated with drug addiction are property crimes–theft, trafficking in stolen property, taking motor vehicles and even the noxious but not physically threatening identity theft.  As such, they are often eligible for the residential DOSA alternative to prison.  https://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=9.94A.664. Continue reading

 

Contrary to popular belief, in Washington a police officer cannot simply pull you over based on a “hunch”; there has to be a viable cause, or what is referred to as “reasonable suspicion” for the stop. Be it a minor traffic violation such as running a red light or perhaps an even lesser infraction like a defunct headlight, the officer in question cannot initiate a traffic stop based strictly on the fact the he/she thinks you may have been drinking. That said, assuming you are pulled over as a result of a valid suspicion, being knowledgeable about your rights at that moment and knowing precisely how to act, speak and behave is critical for any future DUI defense.

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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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If you or a friend or relative has been accused of a crime, there are many things about which to concern yourself in the criminal trial. One of these is ensuring that your case includes all of the defenses allowed by the law, possibly including self-defense. You are entitled to request that your jury receive an instruction on self-defense if there is enough evidence in your case to create a reasonable possibility that your actions were in self-defense. As a recent Washington Court of Appeals decision makes clear, it doesn’t matter if the evidence that potentially raises the issue of self-defense comes from your case or the prosecution’s case. If the evidence is validly before the court, and it raises the possibility that you acted in self-defense, the jury should be instructed on self-defense.

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The U.S. and Washington constitutions give criminal defendants certain clear rights. In Washington, one right accused people have is the right to a public trial. There are several procedural obligations that the courts must follow in order to ensure that an accused person’s trial meets this requirement. One requirement that does not exist is that prosecuting and defense attorneys cannot use sidebar to submit peremptory juror exclusion choices. The Washington Supreme Court, in a recent decision explaining the extent of the public trial right as it relates to submitting peremptory challenges, concluded that attorneys could make these challenges at sidebar as long as certain other processes are followed.

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You have been accused of stalking. You are probably quite understandably upset, worried and maybe even angry. In most of these cases the two parties know each other. You may have been completely unaware that the other person was upset by your presence or communication. You are worried what this will mean to your future.  Commonly, this is a former intimate partner or relationship making this a domestic violence allegation.

Stalking is charged when you are suspected of repeatedly following another person who is afraid or intimidated by this and you know (or should have known) that they felt fearful. Please notice that you do not need to intend to frighten the other person for this crime to be charged; it simply matters that they felt threatened. This is generally a gross misdemeanor charge with penalties of up to a year in jail and a $5000 fine. But, there are situations which can increase this to a felony charge with penalties of up to 5 years in jail a $10,000 fine. This increase happens when you have a past conviction of stalking or there is a restraining order in place or you are suspected of trying to intimidate a witness in another case. So this is very serious. Also, if this is a domestic violence situation then the probation, even on the misdemeanor, can be five years long.  That is what you need to know and that is why you need a defense attorney. Continue reading

You are facing robbery charges. You are understandably upset and worried about what that may mean to your future – both immediate and long term. Your family may be upset with you. You are upset with yourself for getting into this situation. You may feel all alone. You do not need to be and, in fact, you should not be. You need a defense attorney on your side.

Theft, in and of itself, is a serious charge. But robbery gets even more serious. It is like being charged with theft and a violent crime at the same time. Robbery has two possible degrees you could be charged with. Second degree is charged when you are accused of taking property from someone else by threatening them harm or intimidating them. This is a class B felony and has penalties of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000. That is serious enough but first degree is even more serious. First degree robbery is charged in the event of four possible situations: you were armed, or you showed a weapon, or the victim suffered bodily harm, or the robbery was done at a bank or financial institution. Of course any combination of these suspected scenarios would also lead to a first degree robbery charge. This is now classified as a class A felony which is on the same level as murder in the first degree; you could be facing life in prison and a fine of up to $50,000. That is the bad news and is why you want and need a defense attorney on your side. Continue reading

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