Washington Court Upholds Consecutive Sentences For Firearm Convictions

Under Washington law, if a person is convicted of more than one crime, any sentences imposed typically run concurrently. Courts have the discretion to order sentences to run consecutively, however, and such orders will not be overturned absent an abuse of discretion.

A Washington appellate court recently affirmed a court’s order for consecutive sentences following a defendant’s conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm, in part due to the defendant’s repeated commission of the offense. If you are charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, you should consult a seasoned Washington criminal defense attorney to discuss your case.

Charges Against the Defendant

Reportedly, the defendant was convicted of drug offenses and armed robbery as a juvenile, for which he served a three-year prison term. Following his release, he married and began his own business. Then, in 2015, he was charged with two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm and promoting prostitution in Pierce County. He was released pending trial with the condition that he not engage in illegal conduct or possess any firearms or weapons. He failed to appear for a scheduled hearing, after which the court issued a bench warrant. The defendant was arrested in King County and had a firearm in his possession at the time of his arrest.  He was subsequently charged with unlawful possession of a firearm. Later that month, he was charged with second-degree assault with intent to commit second-degree rape.

It is alleged that the defendant was convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm and promoting prostitution in Pierce County, and sentenced to 78 months’ imprisonment. He then plead guilty to the unlawful possession of a firearm and assault charges in King County as part of a plea agreement. He was sentenced to 84 months’ imprisonment on the assault count and 87 months’ imprisonment on the firearm count, to run consecutively to the Pierce County sentence. The defendant appealed, arguing the court abused its discretion by ordering the sentences to run consecutively.

Sentencing Under Washington Law

Under Washington law, it is presumed that multiple sentences will run concurrently unless the court issuing the sentence specifically orders that the sentences to run consecutively. Here, the defendant argued that the court imposed consecutive sentences due to the defendant’s failure to take responsibility for his crimes, which the defendant alleged was contrary to the evidence of record. Specifically, he argued he told the court he accepted responsibility for his actions and had poor judgment.

On review, the appellate court found that the defendant’s failure to take responsibility for his actions was not a material factor in the court’s decision. Rather, the court imposed consecutive sentences because the offenses were separate and distinct and the defendant violated the explicit conditions of his pretrial release order in the Pierce County case. Further, the court noted that the defendant unlawfully possessed a firearm while he had charges pending for the same offense. Thus, the court affirmed the consecutive sentences.

Consult an Experienced Washington Weapons Charge Defense Attorney

If you are charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, you should consult an experienced Washington weapons charge defense attorney to discuss your case. The attorneys of the Law Offices of Smith and White will vigorously defend you against the charges you face to help you seek a favorable outcome. We can be contacted at 253-203-1645 or through the online form to set up a meeting.

More Blog Posts:

Washington Court Upholds Firearm Charge Conviction Due to Cumulative Evidence, January 7, 2019, The Law Offices of Smith & White Blog

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