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Spokane Criminal Defense Law Blog

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.

What is the difference between aggravated and simple assault?

In Washington a simple assault against a person may result in an arrest and criminal charges. The outcome of such situations will depend upon the circumstances surrounding the attack, and the actual action that took place.

In Washington state, attacking someone physically is a crime. In most states physical attacks or even threats of attack can be considered an assault. A person who commits an assault may face charges that result in serious penalties upon conviction, depending on the severity of the assault. Assault has two categories: simple assault and aggravated assault. Use of a weapon plays a big factor in classifying an assault crime. A physical attack against an individual may be charged as a simple assault if it is committed without the use of a weapon and does not lead to serious injuries.

Domestic violence and Washington State's official response

Domestic violence may be considered the basest form of a violent crime. Because of its nature, it may take some time before a victim is aware that the person is in a domestic violence situation. Typically, domestic abuse begins with a heated argument. The situation may turn into a domestic dispute, as one person gradually becomes more violent. Such abuse may come in various forms. However, there are instances in which a simple fight is misinterpreted as abuse.

To help many Washington State residents recognize domestic violence, the state has enforced certain laws that address domestic problems. Under Washington State law, domestic violence is not just a family issue but it is also a crime that endangers the lives of many people. It may be associated with crimes such as assault in the first or second degree, drive-by shooting, coercion, malicious mischief, kidnapping and unlawful imprisonment.

Federal drug arrest stems from heroin overdose death

A criminal charge can ruin a person's life anywhere in the United States, including Washington. And if the charge is linked to a federal crime, Washington residents should be more wary of the potential consequences of the allegation. For one, federal criminal charges are more serious than felonies and misdemeanors. A federal criminal accusation can result in a lengthy prison sentence, hefty fines, probation and other penalties. The amount of evidence used in a federal court is mounting and criminal investigations usually take months.

For example, a federal investigation recently resulted in 13 arrests when, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, 13 people were taken into custody for federal drug charges of possession and distribution of heroin, a controlled substance. The arrests were made after several months of investigations using GPS tracking of cell phones and wiretaps. The investigators served 20 search warrants in five different areas, including one in Washington.

Why is search and seizure significant in drug crimes?

Any kind of criminal charge can be challenging for an individual to face. These difficult times could be even worse if the charges are associated with drug crimes, because Washington is one state that prosecutes drug crimes aggressively. The laws addressing drug possession, drug trafficking and even prescription drug charges can be tougher than many other states because state officials want to protect the public from the dangers of illicit drugs and controlled substances. Limiting illegal drug activities can also reduce other types of crimes.

While it is understandable that the authorities will do everything they can to protect people from drug crimes, they should also be mindful of certain laws that safeguard citizens and defendants including search and seizure laws. According to the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, every American has the right to be free from unreasonable intrusion of the government into their business, homes and property. When it comes to criminal law, an individual has a legitimate right to privacy and the Fourth Amendment protects individuals from certain police searches. The search and seizure law is very significant when a person is accused of drug crimes.