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she-running-away-300x200En casos penales, el estado tiene la carga de la prueba. Específicamente, para probar la culpabilidad de un acusado penal, el estado debe establecer cada elemento del delito imputado más allá de una duda razonable. En muchos casos, esto significa que el estado tiene que probar que el acusado actuó con intención. En tales casos, si el acusado es condenado a pesar de la falta de pruebas de que actuó a sabiendas, su condena puede ser revocada. Esto se ilustró recientemente en un asunto de Washington en el que el tribunal determinó que el estado no pudo probar que el acusado violó a sabiendas su orden de no contacto por violencia doméstica. Si lo acusan de un delito de violencia doméstica, es inteligente ponerse en contacto con un abogado defensor de violencia doméstica de Tacoma con respecto a sus posibles defensas.

Historia del Caso

Se informa que el acusado estaba sujeto a una orden de no contacto por violencia doméstica que le impedía acercarse a 500 pies de la casa de su esposa separada. En septiembre de 2020, el vecino de la esposa vio al acusado caminando en su patio trasero. El vecino se acercó al acusado para preguntarle qué estaba haciendo en su propiedad. En lugar de responder, el acusado comenzó a correr y luego corrió frente al tráiler de su esposa separada.

man-running-away-225x300In criminal cases, the state bears the burden of proof. Specifically, in order to prove a criminal defendant’s guilt, the state must establish each element of the charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt. In many instances, this means that the state has to prove the defendant acted with intent. In such cases, if the defendant is convicted despite a lack of evidence that they acted knowingly, their conviction may be reversed. This was illustrated recently in a Washington matter in which the court found that the state failed to prove that the defendant knowingly violated his domestic violence no-contact order. If you are charged with a crime of domestic violence, it is smart to contact a Tacoma domestic violence defense lawyer regarding your potential defenses.

History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was subject to a domestic violence no-contact order that prevented him from coming within 500 feet of his estranged wife’s home. In September 2020, the wife’s neighbor saw the defendant walking in his backyard. The neighbor approached the defendant to ask him what he was doing on his property. Instead of responding, the defendant began to run and subsequently ran in front of his estranged wife’s trailer.

It is alleged that following the incident, the defendant was charged with numerous crimes, including felony violation of the domestic violence no-contact order. He waived his right to a jury trial, and the case proceeded to a bench trial. The court found that there was sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he knowingly violated the terms of his no-contact order. Thus, he was convicted. He then appealed. Continue reading

Speedy-Trial-243x300Criminal defendants have numerous rights under the state and federal constitutions, including the right to a speedy trial. If their constitutional rights are violated, it may provide grounds for vacating their convictions. Not all trial delays are deemed constitutional violations, however, as demonstrated in a recent Washington opinion issued in a matter in which the defendant appealed his conviction for assault. If you are accused of an assault offense, it is advisable to speak to a Tacoma assault defense lawyer about your rights.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with second degree assault in January 2020, following an incident that occurred earlier in the month. He was arraigned two weeks later, and his trial was scheduled for May 2020. His trial was continued nine times, and he was not actually tried for over a year, however. The trial delays were attributed, in part, to the COVID-19 pandemic. He was found guilty of a lesser charge, after which he appealed, arguing that the state violated his right to a speedy trial.

The Right to a Speedy Trial

The United States and Washington Constitutions both protect criminal defendants’ right to a speedy trial. The court clarified that the analysis of speedy trial rights is substantially the same under both Constitutions. Specifically, the right to a speedy trial arises when a defendant is charged with a crime or arrested, whichever occurs first. Further, if their right to a speedy trial is violated, they are entitled to the dismissal of the charges against them with prejudice. Continue reading

Carl-Sagan-high-300x300Under Washington law, it is legal for people to use marijuana recreationally. However, they must abide by certain restrictions and laws regarding the safe use of marijuana. If they do not, they may be charged with crimes. This was illustrated recently in a Washington ruling issued in a DUI case in which the court rejected the defendant’s assertion that he had a constitutional right to use marijuana without restriction. If you are charged with a DUI crime, it is smart to speak to a dedicated Tacoma DUI defense attorney at Smith and White, PLLC regarding your rights as soon as possible.

Factual Background of the Case

It is reported that pursuant to Washington law, people can be convicted of DUI if, within two hours after driving, they have a THC concentration that is 5.00 nanograms per milliliter or higher, as illustrated by an analysis of their blood. The defendant was charged with and convicted of violating the marijuana DUI law after it was determined that his blood THC level was 9.4 nanograms per milliliter within two hours of driving. He appealed, arguing that the prong of the DUI statute regulating marijuana use was unconstitutionally vague and overbroad and was not a legitimate exercise of the legislature’s police power.

DUI Charges Arising Out of Marijuana Use

The appellate court rejected the defendant’s reasoning and affirmed his conviction. It explained that laws passed by the people through initiatives, like the DUI marijuana provisions, are presumed to be constitutional, and those individuals challenging the constitutionality of a law bear the burden of proving their position beyond a reasonable doubt. A party meets this burden if the research and arguments show that there is no reasonable doubt that the law violates the constitution. Continue reading

Punching-174x300El derecho penal estadounidense utiliza con frecuencia la palabra “assault”. La traducción más literal al español podría definir a la palabra como “asalto”, y a modo más genérico como “agresión” o “ataque”.

A cualquier hispano hablante, la palabra inmediatamente le traerá asociación con violencia durante atracos o invasiones armadas, incluso muchos países latinoamericanos utilizan la palabra casi exclusivamente para referirse a ataques con armas, frecuentemente a robos.

Sin embargo, para la ley del estado de Washington la definición es muchísimo más amplia. Específicamente se clasifica a las agresiones en cuatro grados (enlace en inglés).

JohnnyGenerally, Washington law prohibits prosecutors from using hearsay evidence to attempt to establish a defendant’s guilt. The law permits the introduction of hearsay evidence for other purposes, however. Further, even if hearsay evidence is improperly introduced at a criminal trial, the error may not constitute sufficient grounds for overturning a guilty verdict. This was demonstrated in a recent ruling in which a court rejected a defendant’s appeal of his assault conviction even though the prosecution offered improper hearsay evidence at trial. If you are accused of assault, you may face significant penalties, and it is wise to speak to a Tacoma assault defense attorney at the Law Offices of Smith & White, PLLC to evaluate your possible defenses.

History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant and the victim became romantically involved shortly after the victim moved to Washington. One evening, they were spending time together at the defendant’s apartment when the victim received a text message from a male friend. The defendant saw the message and became angry, and the two began to argue. The disagreement became physical, and the defendant held the victim down, put his arms around her neck, and threatened to kill her.

It is alleged that the victim lost consciousness. When she awoke, the defendant kicked her in the head and prevented her from leaving. She left the next day and went to the hospital. The defendant was ultimately charged with and convicted of second-degree assault and other offenses. He appealed, arguing, among other things, that the trial court erred in allowing the prosecution to admit medical records that contained inadmissible hearsay. Continue reading

hidden-guns-300x176The state and federal constitutions generally protect people from unreasonable searches, which means, in part, that absent exigent circumstances the police must have a warrant to conduct a search of a person’s body or property. If a police officer seeks a warrant to search a property based on information from an informant, their request should only be granted if they demonstrate probable cause to believe that the items in question will be found on the property. Recently, a Washington court discussed what constitutes probable cause in a case in which the defendant appealed his unlawful possession of a firearm conviction. If you are charged with a weapons crime, it is in your best interest to talk to a Tacoma weapons charge defense lawyer at Smith & White, PLLC as soon as possible.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with unlawful possession of firearms and other offenses after police found weapons in his apartment during a search pursuant to a warrant. The police sought the warrant after receiving information from a confidential informant indicating that the defendant was selling illicit substances and had weapons in his possession, which was unlawful because he was a convicted felon. The case proceeded to trial, and the defendant was convicted on all counts. He appealed, arguing in part that the warrant was not supported by probable cause.

Probable Cause for Issuing Warrants

The Washington and United States Constitutions dictate that search warrants will be issued upon a finding of probable cause. The appellate court explained that probable cause is present when the affidavit in support of a warrant sets forth facts and circumstances that are adequate to establish a reasonable inference that the defendant is most likely engaged in criminal activity and that evidence of their unlawful behavior may be found at a specific location. Continue reading

DV-200x300Para la ley del estado de Washington, un acto de violencia doméstica incluye prácticamente cualquier delito que haya sido cometido por un familiar o miembro del hogar.  Para saber más, pregunte a nuestros abogados de violencia doméstica en Tacoma en Smith & White, PLLC.

Como puede apreciar, esta definición es bastante amplia, por lo cual es importante aclarar que:

La violencia incluye entre otros:

HearsayTypically, witnesses for the state must testify in person, and if the state attempts to introduce a person’s out-of-court statements instead of offering them as a witness at trial, their statements may be precluded as hearsay. If the defendant engaged in certain wrongful acts that prevented the person from testifying, though, the court may find that the defendant forfeited the right to object to the submission of out-of-court statements. This issue arose in a recent Washington domestic violence case in which the court ultimately determined that the defendant waived the right to an appeal by failing to raise the issue at trial. If you are charged with a domestic violence crime, it is prudent to confer with a Tacoma domestic violence defense lawyer at Smith & White, PLLC to assess your rights.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with multiple counts of violating a domestic violence protection order. When he was in jail after his arrest, he made numerous calls to the victim and asked her not to testify against him at trial. She agreed and, in her absence, the state introduced calls the defendant made from jail to the number used by the victim when she called 911 to report the initial violation. The jury deemed the defendant guilty, and he appealed.

The Forfeiture by Wrongdoing Exception to Hearsay

On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court erred by admitting the phone calls into evidence because it presumed that he was the caller instead of finding that the evidence demonstrating he was the caller was cogent, clear, and convincing. The court explained that the rule against hearsay does not apply if a party engages in wrongdoing that constitutes a waiver of the hearsay rule. The appellate court noted, though, that the point was moot as the defendant did not object when the state offered the subject calls into evidence at trial and expressly stated that he did not contest the issue of identity. Continue reading

The state and federal constitutions offer numerous rights and protections to criminal defendants, including the right to a speedy trial.  These apply to all Pierce County and Tacoma DUI cases.  Speedy-Trial-243x300Thus, if a criminal defendant is subjected to undue delays during the pendency of their trial, they may be able to successfully advocate for dismissal of the charges against them, regardless of the strength of the prosecution’s case. Recently, a Washington court discussed the evidence a defendant must produce to demonstrate their speedy trial rights have been violated in a matter in which the defendant was charged with DUI and other crimes. If you are accused of a DUI offense, it is smart to contact a Washington criminal defense attorney to discuss your rights.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was charged with numerous crimes, including driving while under the influence following a police chase. He was incarcerated during the pendency of his trial for a total of 18 months. He was subsequently convicted, after which he sought an appeal, arguing that the trial court violated his right to a speedy trial when it granted multiple continuances in spite of his objections.

The Right to a Speedy Trial

The appellate court was not persuaded by the defendant’s reasoning and rejected his appeal. The analysis the courts conduct to determine if a defendant’s speedy trial rights have been violated are largely the same under both the state and federal constitutions. Specifically, the courts employ the Barker test, which is fact-specific and depends on the unique circumstances of the case. Continue reading

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