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Under Washington law, a DUI offense that would ordinarily be prosecuted as a misdemeanor may be graded as a felony under certain circumstances. For example, if a DUI defendant has numerous prior qualifying convictions, it could constitute grounds for charging a DUI offense as a felony. Recently, a Washington court set forth an opinion explaining how prior offenses are scored in a case in which the defendant appealed his felony DUI conviction. If you are charged with driving while intoxicated, you could face significant penalties, and it is in your best interest to meet with a trusted Washington DUI defense attorney to determine your possible defenses.

The History of the Case

The defendant was charged with a DUI offense. Following a jury trial, he was found guilty of felony DUI due to the fact that the trial court determined he had three qualifying offenses within the ten years prior to his conviction. The defendant stipulated to his offender score but later appealed, arguing that the trial court improperly included a misdemeanor crime when calculating his offender score, which resulted in an improper score. The court ultimately agreed and remanded the matter for resentencing.

Calculating an Offender Score Under Washington Law

Under Washington law, a DUI is considered a felony if the defendant has three or more qualifying offenses within the ten years preceding the offense. To determine an offender score for a felony DUI offense, the court will assign one point to each felony offense as an adult and one point to each serious traffic offense other than offenses used solely for enhancement purposes. Continue reading

Generally, the State is not permitted to introduce evidence of prior bad acts or wrongs to establish that a person violated the law on a certain occasion. In other words, the State cannot point to previous behavior in an effort to convince a jury that a defendant acted similarly on the date of an alleged crime. Evidence of other wrongs may be admitted for other reasons, however. The grounds for admitting evidence of prior acts of domestic violence was the topic of a recent Washington opinion, in a matter involving a felony violation of a no-contact order. If you are accused of a domestic violence offense, it is advisable to speak to a capable Washington domestic violence defense attorney about your rights.

The Alleged Crime

It is reported that the defendant and the victim became romantically involved when they were co-workers. At some point, a no-contact order was entered, preventing the two from associating with each other. Regardless, they saw each other at a party for their former employer. Later that evening, the victim sent a friend messages indicating she had been assaulted by the defendant. The friend went to the victim’s house and observed marks on her leg and face. He then heard someone in the garage and hid in the bathroom, and called 911.

Allegedly, during the 911 call, the defendant could be heard engaging in an altercation with the victim. The police arrived and arrested the defendant, who was charged with felony violation of a no-contact order. He was convicted, after which he appealed, arguing in part that the trial court erred in admitting evidence of prior acts of domestic violence at his trial. Continue reading

Assault charges can result in substantial penalties, but simply because someone is charged with assault does not mean that the State can obtain a conviction. In many cases, there are numerous defenses a person can assert, including self-defense. Recently, a Washington court explained what evidence a defendant must set forth to demonstrate that an action was taken in self-defense, in a matter in which the defendant appealed his conviction for assault with a deadly weapon. If you are charged with assault, it is vital to meet with a dedicated Washington assault defense attorney to discuss your possible defenses.

The Alleged Assault

It is reported that the defendant lived with his wife in an apartment, and his mother-in-law and father-in-law lived in the same complex. The defendant became abusive towards his wife, and she obtained a no-contact order against him, but she continued to live with him regardless. She eventually told him she wanted a divorce due to his behavior. The following day, she left the apartment to take their children to school and returned home after a short time. When she arrived in her apartment, she found her mother bleeding on the floor. The mother, who suffered critical injuries, indicated that the defendant had assaulted her. The defendant was charged with multiple crimes, including first-degree assault with a deadly weapon. He was convicted of assault, after which he filed an appeal, arguing in part that the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was not acting in self-defense.

Proving an Assault Constitutes Self-Defense

Under Washington law, to obtain a conviction for assault, the State must prove that the defendant acted with the intent to cause great bodily harm and did, in fact, inflict significant harm. If a defendant raises a claim that he was acting in self-defense, the burden shifts to the State to demonstrate, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant was not acting in self-defense. Continue reading

Domestic violence is a serious issue and is treated as such by the Washington courts. Therefore, in order to prevent victims of domestic violence from suffering continued harm, a court may order a defendant convicted of violating a no-contact order to attend counseling or mental health treatment. Recently, the discretion and basis for imposing certain community custody conditions in cases involving domestic violence were explained in an opinion issued by a Washington court, in a matter in which the defendant argued his sentence was unrelated to his crime. If you are charged with violating a no-contact order or a similar crime, it is in your best interest to speak to a capable Washington domestic violence defense attorney to determine your rights.

The Alleged Crimes

It is reported that in 2017, the defendant was convicted of six counts of misdemeanor domestic violence after he damaged his ex-wife’s home and car, set her bed on fire, and threatened to kill himself. After his conviction, a no-contact order was entered prohibiting him from coming within one thousand feet of his ex-wife’s home.

Allegedly, in 2019, the police received a phone call from a relative of the defendant’s ex-wife, stating that the defendant was in the ex-wife’s home and there were concerns for her safety. The police ultimately detained the defendant at the premises, and he was arrested and charged with a felony violation of the no-contact order. He was sentenced to a year in prison, followed by two years of community custody. One of the conditions of his community custody was that he was to attend a domestic violence program. He appealed, arguing that the condition was unrelated to his offense. On appeal, the court affirmed. Continue reading

People are protected by both the State and Federal Constitutions against unreasonable search and seizures. What this means, in part, is that the police cannot stop a driver absent a warrant or a reasonable suspicion that the person is engaging in criminal behavior. Thus, if the police stop a motorist without cause and the person is subsequently charged with a DUI offense, there may be grounds to suppress the evidence gathered during the stop. What constitutes sufficient grounds to effectuate a traffic stop was the topic of a recent Washington opinion in which the defendant sought a reversal of his DUI conviction. If you are accused of driving under the influence, it is advisable to consult a knowledgeable Washington DUI defense attorney to discuss your possible defenses.

The Defendant’s Arrest

Allegedly, a police officer was dispatched to investigate a hit and run accident involving a white SUV. When he arrived at the scene, he observed a sedan with significant damage to the driver’s side door parked on the shoulder of the highway. The driver of the sedan was lying unconscious on the side of the road, and a witness advised the officer that the white SUV struck the sedan and the driver and sped off.

It is reported that later that evening, a second officer observed the defendant driving a white SUV of the same make and model as the one involved in the accident and made a traffic stop. When he approached the vehicle, the officer observed that the defendant smelled of marijuana, his eyes were glazed over, and he was lethargic. The officer observed that the SUV had damage consistent with the earlier accident, and after questioning the defendant, arrested him for DUI. The defendant filed a motion to suppress the evidence obtained during the stop, but his motion was denied. He was convicted, after which he appealed. Continue reading

People who are found guilty of committing acts of domestic violence may be subject to no-contact orders, which generally prohibit them from speaking to or otherwise contacting their victims. A person that disregards a no-contact order may face felony charges. The State must prove that an individual charged with felony violation of a domestic violence no-contact order was both aware of the order and willfully violated its terms in order to obtain a conviction, as discussed in a recent Washington ruling. If you are charged with a crime of domestic violence, it is prudent to speak to a Washington domestic violence defense attorney regarding your rights.

Charges Against the Defendant

It is reported that the defendant and the victim had an on-again-off-again romantic relationship since 2009. At some point, a domestic violence no-contact order was issued barring the defendant from contacting the victim. In March 2015, the defendant was found guilty of violating the order, and the court entered a second order that prohibited him from contacting the victim for five years.

Allegedly, in November 2018, the defendant asked the victim to meet him. They were subsequently caught by the police in a car parked behind a store. The woman initially provided the police with a fake name but eventually revealed her identity. The defendant gave the police his proper name. He was subsequently charged with and convicted of a felony violation of a domestic violence no-contact order. He appealed, arguing the State had insufficient evidence that he was aware of the order. Continue reading

People charged with weapons crimes in Washington may face significant penalties. In some instances, it is within the discretion of the sentencing court to determine whether the circumstances warrant a lesser sentence than called for by the guidelines. Extraordinary sentences will only be granted in certain circumstances, though, as demonstrated in a recent Washington ruling. If you are accused of committing a crime involving a firearm, it is advisable to meet with a knowledgeable Washington weapons charge defense attorney to discuss your options.

The Defendant’s Conviction and Sentence

It is reported that the defendant was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and robbery with a firearm enhancement. He pleaded guilty to both charges. He was nineteen years old at the time he committed the offenses. Thus, during the sentencing hearing, he requested that he receive an exceptional sentence due to his youth. For the base sentence, the trial court imposed a sentence of fifty-four months imprisonment, which was below the standard range. For the firearm enhancement, though, the court found that it did not have the discretion to reduce the standard sentence or to allow it to run at the same time as the base sentence and sentenced the defendant to sixty additional months in prison. The defendant then appealed.

Discretion in Sentencing for Convictions of Firearm Charges

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling. The court was not persuaded by the defendant’s argument that the trial court failed to acknowledge its discretion to reduce the length of the firearm enhancement or to permit it to run at the same time as the base sentence, as an exceptional sentence based on the defendant’s youth. Instead, the court noted that it recently ruled on the precise issue at hand, nothing that trial courts do not have the authority to impose an exceptional downward sentence for a firearm enhancement, in cases in which the defendant was not a juvenile at the time the crime was committed.

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Typically, when a crime is committed, the police do not actually witness the offense and must rely on eyewitness reports and other evidence to attempt to identify a defendant. Mere suspicion alone is not sufficient to arrest a person, however, as the police must have probable cause to believe that a person committed a criminal offense prior to taking a person into custody. What constitutes probable cause was the topic of a recent Washington opinion issued by a court in a case in which the defendant appealed his conviction for assault and other crimes on the basis that his arrest was improper. If you are charged with assault, it is in your best interest to speak to a skillful Washington assault defense attorney to evaluate your rights.

Factual History

It is alleged that in November 2017, the victim called 911 and reported that the defendant, who was her boyfriend, came into her apartment, struck her in the face, and held a gun to her stomach while threatening to kill her unborn baby. The victim exited the apartment, which the police then surrounded, ordering the defendant to come out with his hands up.

It is reported that the defendant did not come out of the apartment but was arrested shortly thereafter behind the apartment next door. He was charged with assault and other crimes. A jury convicted him, after which he appealed, arguing in part that the police lacked probable cause to arrest him and therefore his arrest and conviction were unlawful. The court disagreed and affirmed his conviction.

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People convicted of crimes of domestic violence are often prohibited from interacting with their victims via domestic violence no-contact orders. Thus, if a person subject to a no-contact order subsequently contacts the victim, it may result in additional criminal charges. While a no-contact order must be valid to be enforceable, there are specific parameters for objecting to an order as improper. The failure to comply with the correct procedural process can result in the waiver of rights, as demonstrated in a recent Washington ruling. If you are accused of violating a no-contact order or committing another crime of domestic violence, it is advisable to meet with a Washington domestic violence defense attorney to assess your options.

The Defendant’s Alleged Violation

Allegedly, the defendant was convicted of fourth-degree assault, which was a crime of domestic violence in October 2017. The court issued a five-year domestic violence no-contact order, barring the defendant from interacting with the victim either indirectly or directly or being within 500 feet of her. The defendant continued to contact the victim regardless, however.

It is reported that in January 2018 and March 2018, incidents occurred in which the defendant assaulted the victim. During the second incident, he took her purse as well. He was subsequently charged with two felony violations of the domestic violence no-contact order and robbery. Following a trial, the jury convicted the defendant, and he was sentenced to five years in prison. He then appealed, arguing in part that the no-contact order was invalid.

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While criminal defendants can be charged with multiple crimes that are similar, they cannot be charged numerous times for the same offense. Thus, if a defendant is charged with different degrees of unlawful possession of a firearm for a single uninterrupted act, it may constitute a violation of the right against double jeopardy. This was the topic of a recent Washington ruling in which the court vacated one of a defendant’s two convictions for the same act. If you are charged with a weapons crime, it is in your best interest to speak to a Washington weapons charge defense attorney to determine your rights.

The Defendant’s Charges

It is reported that while the defendant was being arrested for the possession of marijuana as a minor, a handgun fell out of his pocket. He had previous convictions that prohibited him from possessing a weapon. Thus, he was charged with two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm, one first-degree charge, and one second-degree. He was convicted on both counts, after which he appealed, arguing his convictions violated double jeopardy.

Double Jeopardy with Regards to Weapons Charges

Pursuant to the United States and Washington Constitutions, no person can be put in jeopardy twice for the same offense. This is known as the prohibition against double jeopardy, and it prohibits the State from imposing numerous punishments for the same crime. If a defendant is convicted of violating one law multiple times, each conviction can only withstand analysis under double jeopardy standards if each one is a separate unit of prosecution.

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