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Evidence Sufficient to Establish Guilt of Gun Crimes Discussed in Washington Opinion

Firearm convictions can result in the loss of significant liberties. As with any criminal matter, though, the State must prove each element of the charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction, and if it does not, it may constitute a violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights. Recently, a Washington state court issued a ruling in which it explained what is considered adequate evidence to establish unlawful possession of a firearm in a case in which the defendant sought relief from personal restraint following convictions for multiple crimes. If you are charged with a weapons crime, it is advisable to meet with a trusted Washington gun crime defense attorney to discuss your possible defenses.

The Defendant’s Allegations

It is reported that in 2017, the defendant was convicted of three counts of assault and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm. Personal restraint was imposed following his convictions. In 2020, the defendant sought relief from his personal restraint, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to prove he was guilty of unlawful possession of a firearm and that his conviction and the firearm enhancements on his assault convictions violated his protections against double jeopardy. The court ultimately rejected the defendant’s arguments and denied his request for relief.

Evidence Sufficient to Establish Guilt in Gun Crime Cases

First, the court discussed the defendant’s allegations that the evidence was insufficient to prove his guilt with regard to the firearm charge. The court explained that evidence in criminal cases is sufficient to prove culpability if, after it is viewed in the light most favorable to the State, any rational factfinder could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that the elements of a crime were present.

In the subject case, the court noted that three separate witnesses saw the defendant fire a gun. Thus, the court found that the testimony presented at trial constituted sufficient evidence that the defendant possessed an operable firearm in violation of the law. The court also rejected the defendant’s argument that his firearm conviction and the firearm enhancements to the sentences for his assault conviction violated double jeopardy, simply stating they did not. Last, the court spurned the defendant’s argument that his offender score was incorrect. In sum, the court found that the defendant did not set forth evidence sufficient to show that there were any grounds for relief from personal restraint. Therefore, the court denied the defendant’s petition as well as his request for the appointment of counsel.

Speak to an Experienced Washington Attorney

The State faces a high burden in criminal cases, and if it cannot produce evidence sufficient to prove a defendant committed a gun-related offense, any conviction may constitute a violation of the defendant’s rights. If you are charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, the experienced weapons charge defense attorneys of The Law Offices of Smith & White can help you mount a compelling defense to provide you with a strong chance of obtaining a favorable outcome. You can contact us through the online form or by calling 253-203-1645 to schedule a meeting.

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