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Reporting domestic violence: Interference is a crime

Most Spokane residents probably have a vague understanding of domestic violence as a crime. Most men and women already know that physically assaulting or abusing their partner is a crime, but there is much more to domestic violence than illegal physical contact. Interfering with the reporting of domestic violence is also considered a crime in the state of Washington.

In order to be charged with interfering with the reporting of domestic violence, there must first be an incidence of domestic violence. Washington defines domestic violence in an extensive number of ways, but an experienced criminal defense attorney can help a defendant understand the criminal charges against them. A person charged with interference must also have prevented, or tried to prevent, the victim or a witness from seeking help. The help can be in the form of dialing 911, going to the police or seeking medical attention.

Opponents of Washington gun law lack standing, federal judge says

Gun laws are often a hot topic in Washington State. In the Spokane area, many local residents own a weapon either for recreational purposes, such as hunting, or for personal protection. No one wants to face a weapons charge for violating gun laws; however, according to the Second Amendment Foundation, which is based in Bellevue, one of Washington's newer gun laws is so vague that it might not be understood properly.

The law in question, which was passed last November, created universal background checks for most gun transactions in the state. The requirement includes sales at gun shows, online gun sales and transfers of guns such as gifts or loans. There are exceptions for hunting gun loans, gifts from one family member to another, certain emergency-related transfers and antique guns. The specifics of the relatively new law might sound confusing, which is why multiple plaintiffs have challenged the law since its passing.

Can a convicted offender be put to death in Washington?

Does the state of Washington have the death penalty for convicted offenders? Unless one has faced criminal charges, this question might never arise. However, when an individual is charged with a serious crime such as homicide, the severity of Washington's criminal penalties can quickly become that person's primary concern.

Washington State does have the death penalty for certain convicted offenders. Nearly 80 individuals have been put to death in Washington over the past 110 years. However, no convicted individual has been put to death in Washington in several years. Moreover, last year Governor Inslee suspended use of the death penalty for as long as he holds office, citing a flawed system and doubts about capital punishment as the reasons. Inslee noted that if lawmakers pushed for it, he would support a permanent ban on the death penalty.

Severe penalties for heroin offenses in Washington

Thanks to changing laws on the subject, much attention has been paid to marijuana use in Washington recently. However, there are many other substances for which there is no acceptable legal use; one such substance is the opium derivative heroin. Some argue that there is actually a heroin epidemic sweeping the country, as the Centers for Disease Control have indicated heroin overdose fatalities have almost tripled since 2010.

Unfortunately, overdoses and health problems are not the only serious consequences that coincide with heroin drug offenses. In Washington State, the drug charges associated with heroin are extremely serious as well. For example, simple possession of even a small amount of heroin is a Class C felony. For those convicted on such a charge for the first time, they may have to attend a drug diversion program and be sentenced to probation. However, potential penalties can involve fines of up to $10,000 or a prison sentence of up to five years.

Domestic violence charges and Washington's diverse households

Unless one has been charged with domestic violence or a related crime, it's easy to imagine the charges only affect certain types of people and households. Contrary to popular belief, charges of domestic violence don't just affect those who are married or living with a current or former romantic partner.

The state of Washington defines domestic violence as various types of harm or assault inflicted by one "family or household member" upon another. However, there are various individuals that the state describes as family or household members. These include spouses, of course, but also former spouses, adults related either by blood or by marriage, current and former domestic partners and adults who are currently living together or who have shared a residence in the past. The list also includes individuals who have a child together; these individuals do not have to have ever been married or lived together in the past.

Two Spokane professionals face various federal charges

Finding oneself on the receiving end of a criminal charge is almost always intimidating, especially if the charges are federal in nature. Recently, two Spokane professionals have found themselves facing federal charges. While there are various ways in which a person may have to make a criminal defense in federal court, these two local cases involve accusations of exploiting children.

The first case involves a local bankruptcy attorney who has been charged with possessing and receiving child pornography. The case began in a somewhat unusual manner - the defendant apparently left his iPad computer at a grocery store, but when he picked it up law enforcement notified him that there was child pornography on it. Later, federal agents reportedly searched his home. In addition, federal prosecutors listed his residence as property that may be seized due to its having been allegedly used in the commission of a crime. The man has been held at the Spokane County Jail while awaiting his bail hearing.

Gun rights and private gun sales in Washington

Gun rights in Washington State can be a complicated topic, primarily because there are so many different laws and regulations that can affect gun owners, dealers and purchasers. If gun owners do not follow all applicable state and federal laws, they may be accused of committing a crime. In many cases, if a weapon was used in certain alleged crimes the penalties can be much higher than they would be otherwise. For instance, a simple assault can bring forth the possibility of prison time if a weapon was used in the incident.

How residents purchase weapons can also entail legal trouble if the purchase was not done according to the law. Last year, Washington was the first state to start requiring background checks on private gun sales. Now, in order to purchase a gun from a private seller, you must perform the transaction through a federally licensed firearm dealer, or FFL. For his or her part, the FFL must conduct the sale in compliance with both federal and state laws as if he or she were selling from a dealer's inventory. The FFL must also perform the proper background check on a purchaser.

Possible defenses to first-degree murder criminal charge

Being arrested and charged with a crime is likely one of the most overwhelming experiences a Spokane resident can face. Securing a criminal defense attorney is a proactive step that anyone facing a criminal charge can take when charged with a homicide offense.

Some defendants may wonder what defenses are available for the most severe type of felony: first-degree murder. Some may believe that such a severe charge will result in a conviction due to the zeal of prosecutors or bias of a jury, but this is not always a foregone conclusion. There may be effective defenses to first-degree murder. Depending on the unique circumstances of each criminal case, a Spokane criminal defense attorney may be able to utilize one or more defenses during a criminal trial.

Spokane police charge local man with domestic violence assault

When a person in Spokane goes missing, there are usually a host of legal questions that arise. Sometimes there is suspicion of illegal activity surrounding a person's disappearance; the longer a person goes missing, the more likely those suspicions may involve the possibility of foul play. Fortunately, many missing individuals are located, but this does not always clear up the legal issues surrounding their disappearance.

Recently in Spokane, a witness reported a man carrying an unresponsive woman out to a vehicle. After the police received the witness account, they began searching for the man and his girlfriend, as well as for the pair's two children. Authorities located the four individuals the following morning; the children were not harmed but the woman reportedly went to a hospital for treatment. The man now faces charges of domestic violence - specifically, domestic violence assault in the second degree.

How the Constitution protects Washington defendants

A Washington criminal investigation against an individual can be distressful and challenging. A criminal charge can lead to public stigma and alienation from family members, friends and the entire community. Even though an accused individual is not convicted, yet, the criminal arrest and allegation can ruin their reputation, employment records and eligibility to receive financial welfare from the government. However, people facing criminal allegations should remember that criminal defense law can protect them.

For starters, criminal defense law provides legal protection for those who are suspected of committing a crime. This law strikes a balance between the power and authority of the judicial system and the constitutional rights given to defendants. Our Washington-based law firm knows these rights well. Our firm strives to use a defendant's rights and give them an advantage in a criminal case.