Washington Court Examines Sufficiency of Evidence for Firearm Enhancement

In Washington, there are certain factors that can increase a person’s sentence if he or she is convicted of a crime. For example, firearm enhancements can increase the sentence for a felony conviction. A Washington appellate court recently discussed the sufficiency of evidence needed to support a firearm enhancement in a case in which the defendant argued that there was insufficient evidence to support the enhancement following her assault, kidnapping, and robbery convictions. If you are charged with a criminal offense involving the use of a firearm, it is important to retain an experienced Washington criminal defense attorney to analyze what evidence the State may introduce against you and the effect any evidence may have in the event of a conviction.

Facts Surrounding the Alleged Crime

It is reported that the defendant and two other individuals robbed multiple people inside a house. The defendant demanded money and drugs from one of the victims. Additionally, at three different points during the robbery, she allegedly pointed what appeared to be a gun at people. Ultimately, the defendant and her accomplices left the home. They were apprehended about a mile from the house. After searching the vehicle in which the defendant and her accomplices were traveling, the police found a rifle, a shotgun, and two pistols. On further inspection, however, it was revealed that only the shotgun was a real gun, as the rifle and pistols were pellet guns. The defendant was charged with a multitude of crimes, including robbery, assault, and kidnapping. Following a trial, a jury found her guilty on all charges and found that she was armed with a firearm during the crimes. The defendant appealed on several grounds. One of the arguments set forth by the defendant was that there was insufficient evidence to support the firearm enhancements to her kidnapping, robbery, and assault convictions.

Sufficiency of Evidence for Firearm Enhancement

Under Washington law, a firearm enhancement will increase the sentence for an underlying felony if the defendant was armed with a firearm during the commission of the crime. A defendant is considered armed when he or she is nearby a deadly weapon that is readily and easily accessible and a nexus is established between the crime, the weapon, and the defendant. The court explained that a nexus will be found if the weapon and defendant were in close proximity at the time of the crime. If the facts support an inference of a connection between the crime, the defendant, and the weapon, it will be sufficient evidence of a nexus.

Here, the court found that the State presented sufficient evidence of a nexus. Specifically, one of the victims testified that he witnessed the defendant holding the shotgun at one point during the robbery, and another testified that the defendant was nearby the shotgun at other times during the robbery. Thus, the court held that the jury could have reasonably found that the defendant was armed with a firearm during the commission of the robbery, assault, and kidnapping.

Retain a Seasoned Washington Weapons Charge Defense Attorney

If you are charged with a criminal offense involving the use of a firearm, it is important to retain a seasoned Washington weapons charge defense attorney to assist you in formulating your defense. At the Law Offices of Smith and White, our attorneys will work diligently to help you pursue a successful outcome under the facts of your case. You can reach us at 253-203-1645 or through the online form to schedule a meeting.

More Blog Posts:

Supreme Court of the State of Washington Clarifies that Any Five Year Conviction Free Period Meets the Statutory Requirement for Restoration of Gun Rights, October 19, 2018, The Law Offices of Smith & White Blog

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