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One of the fundamental rights provided by both the Constitution and state law is the protection against self-incrimination. In other words, parties cannot be compelled to submit to interrogation that would force them to make statements that would implicate their guilt. If a party says something incriminating on his or her own volition, though, the statement may be admissible as evidence at a criminal trial. In a recent Washington domestic violence matter, an appellate court issued an opinion discussing the nuances of the right against self-incrimination, ultimately upholding the trial court’s decision to admit incriminating statements. If you are charged with a domestic violence offense, it is smart to meet with a Washington domestic violence defense lawyer to discuss your rights.

The Alleged Attack

Reportedly, the defendant became suspicious that his girlfriend was having an affair. He drove to a location where she was meeting with another man and, when he arrived, slammed his truck into reverse, striking his girlfriend’s vehicle. The defendant’s girlfriend, who was getting into the car at the time, fell to the ground, suffering injuries. The police arrested the defendant and charged him with numerous crimes, including domestic violence assault. Prior to trial, the defendant moved to suppress statements he made in a phone call to his girlfriend regarding the assault, but the court denied his motion. He was convicted, after which he appealed, arguing, in part, that the trial court erred in denying his motion.

Protections Against Self-Incrimination

On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court deprived him of his right against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Washington law because the phone call with his girlfriend constituted a custodial interrogation. The court rejected his argument. The court explained that pursuant to the Miranda ruling, a person accused of a crime has the right to an attorney during a custodial interrogation, even if the State has not filed formal charges against the person. 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

People charged with DUI offenses are often tried shortly after their arrests. In some instances, however, a person may be able to defer his or her prosecution to take part in a treatment or rehabilitation program. People who successfully complete such programs are often able to have their DUI charges dismissed, but they must comply with the conditions imposed by the law, and if they do not, their deferred prosecution may be revoked. The revocation of deferred prosecution was the topic of a recent Washington opinion. If you are accused of committing a DUI offense, it is smart to speak to a Washington criminal defense lawyer to evaluate your possible options.

The Defendant’s Charges

Reportedly, the defendant was charged with DUI and reckless driving in May 2012. He petitioned the court for deferred prosecution in October 2013. The court granted his petition and entered an order approving a two-year treatment plan and deferring the prosecution of the matter for five years. The order also dictated that the defendant had to totally abstain from the use of alcohol or illicit drugs for the duration of the deferred prosecution and abide by the law.

Allegedly, in January 2018, the State moved to revoke the defendant’s deferred prosecution on the grounds that he was charged with hit and run, reckless endangerment, and DUI. The trial court entered an order granting the petition, but the defendant appealed, and the trial court’s ruling was ultimately reversed. The State then petitioned the court of appeals for discretionary review. 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

Generally, juvenile offenders are treated differently than adults, and in many instances, criminal proceedings involving minor offenders are handled by juvenile courts. Serious crimes are often handled by adult criminal courts, though, and typically a conviction in adult court will carry more significant penalties. Recently, a Washington court issued an opinion discussing whether a minor criminal defendant has the right to have his or her case heard in juvenile court, in a matter in which the defendant appealed his conviction for assault when he was a minor. If you are charged with assault, it is important to speak to a trusted Washington assault defense lawyer to determine your options.

History of the Case

Reportedly, the defendant was charged with first-degree assault when he was 16. As it was considered a serious and violent offense, the jurisdiction of the juvenile court was automatically declined, and the case was assigned to adult criminal court pursuant to Washington law. The defendant and the State subsequently reached a plea agreement, under which the charges were reduced to second-degree assault, which is a crime that is not subject to the automatic declination of the juvenile court’s jurisdiction.

It is alleged that the defendant did not waive the right to juvenile jurisdiction, and the court did not hold a declination hearing. The defendant ultimately pleaded guilty and was sentenced to nine months in prison, followed by twelve months of community supervision. Twenty-three years later, the defendant filed a motion for relief from the judgment, arguing that because it was not entered in juvenile court, it was facially invalid. The court denied his motion. Continue reading

It is not uncommon for people to be familiar with one another without knowing each other’s names. As such, if a person witnesses a casual acquaintance committing a crime, the police and prosecution may rely on pictures or video to help the witness identify the offender. Recently, a Washington court addressed the issue of whether social media posts used to identify a criminal defendant are admissible as evidence in an assault case or if doing so violates the constitutional right to confront a witness. If you are accused of assault, it is vital to meet with a skillful Washington assault defense attorney to assess your rights.

The Alleged Offense

It is reported that in October 2017, the witness encountered the defendant, who she knew from high school, in a convenience store. She spoke with him briefly, and saw him make gang signs. Before he exited the store, she saw one of his friends had lifted up his shirt to reveal a gun. The friend then gave the gun to the defendant.

Allegedly, the witness saw the defendant point the gun at a car and heard shots being fired. Bullets hit multiple windows on the vehicle. She then called the police and reported what she witnessed but could not recall the defendant’s name. When she spoke with the police in person, she showed them pictures from the defendant’s social media account. The defendant was charged with assault and unlawful possession of a firearm. He sought to suppress his social media posts from being introduced at trial, but his motion was denied. He was convicted, after which he appealed. Continue reading

Many crimes have degrees, and a defendant charged with one crime may ultimately be found guilty of a less serious offense that carries reduced penalties. Thus, in many instances, a defendant will request that the jury receive a lesser included offense instruction in hopes of avoiding a conviction for the more serious charge. A lesser included offense instruction is not appropriate in every case, but if a trial court errs in determining that such an instruction is not warranted, it may constitute grounds for reversing a conviction, as demonstrated in a recent Washington ruling issued in an assault case. If you are charged with an assault offense, it is in your best interest to speak to a trusted Washington assault defense attorney as soon as possible to assess your options.

The Alleged Assault

It is reported that the defendant lived with the victim, who was his girlfriend. The couple got into an argument, and the defendant pushed the victim to the ground. While the exact details of what transpired after that are disputed, the defendant admitted that he pinned the victim to the wall. The victim stated that he strangled her and dragged her through the apartment. The defendant was charged with second-degree assault by means of strangulation and fourth-degree assault. During his trial, he asked for a lesser included offense instruction for the fourth-degree assault charge. The court denied his request, and he was convicted on both counts. He then appealed, arguing the trial court erred in denying his request.

Lesser Included Offense Instructions

Pursuant to Washington law, a defendant is entitled to a lesser included offense instruction if every element of the lesser included offense is a necessary element of the charged offense, which is referred to as the legal prong, and if the evidence in the case supports an inference that the defendant committed the lesser offense crime, which is known as the factual prong. The court explained that while the applicable test was still valid, recent rulings had caused confusion as to whether the factual prong required evidence that only the lesser included offense was committed, to the exclusion of the greater crime. 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

Criminal defendants are afforded the right to a fair trial. Among other things, this means that the State cannot introduce evidence that a defendant engaged in other wrongs, crimes, or bad acts to show that the defendant has bad character and acted in conformance with that character in committing the underlying offense. Such evidence may be admitted for other reasons, though, as long as it is not overly prejudicial. Recently, a Washington court issued an opinion discussing the preclusion of evidence of other wrongs and crimes in a case where the defendant appealed his numerous convictions for assault. If you are accused of committing an assault crime, it is in your best interest to meet with a trusted Washington criminal defense attorney to assess your possible defenses.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was arrested and charged with two counts of fourth-degree assault. The charges arose out of an altercation with his girlfriend. Prior to trial, the defendant moved to preclude the State from introducing evidence that he owned weapons. The trial court denied his motion, and during the trial, the State offered testimony indicating that the defendant owned a gun and kept it in the home he shared with his girlfriend. The jury found the defendant guilty as charged, after which he appealed, arguing the trial court erred in admitting evidence of his gun ownership.

Admission of Evidence of Other Crimes, Bad Acts, and Wrongs

Under Washington law, evidence of bad acts, crimes, or wrongs is inadmissible to demonstrate a person’s character or to show that the person acted in conformance with that character. Trial courts have to begin with the assumption that such evidence should not be admitted. It is permissible to admit it, however, if it is introduced to show intent, knowledge, or a lack of mistake. Continue reading

Criminal defendants in Washington have the right to a trial by jury. They do not have the right to pick the jurors, however. Rather, jurors are randomly selected from people living in the county where the crime occurred. The prosecution and the defense both can question jurors for potential bias, though, and can make peremptory challenges to strike certain jurors that they feel may not be able to render an impartial decision. Peremptory challenges cannot be used for unethical or unjust purposes, however, like racial discrimination. In a recent opinion issued in a DUI case, a Washington court discussed the grounds for evaluating whether a peremptory challenge to a juror was improper. If you are charged with a DUI crime, you should confer with a seasoned Washington DUI defense attorney as soon as possible to evaluate your rights.

The Defendant’s Arrest and Trial

It is reported that the defendant was arrested and charged with felony DUI, felony physical control while under the influence, and reckless driving. The case proceeded to trial, and during the voir dire of the jury, the State used peremptory challenges to three jurors. The defense objected to the use of the challenges, but two of the jurors were excused regardless. The defendant was found guilty of the physical control charge and sentenced to fifteen months in prison. He then appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in allowing the State to remove two jurors because the strikes constituted racial discrimination, in violation of Washington law.

Racial Discrimination in the Selection of Jurors

Under GR 37, a Washington Rule, racial discrimination in the process of selecting a jury is prohibited, regardless of whether it arises out of an implicit bias or is the result of purposeful discrimination. GR 37 was adopted by the Washington Supreme Court to address the unjust exclusion of potential jurors due to an unconscious bias. It allows a party to object to the use of a peremptory challenge on the grounds that it demonstrates improper bias, after which the objecting party must articulate its reasons, and the court must evaluate whether the challenge is justified based on the totality of the circumstances. Continue reading

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