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.