August 18, 2014

Washington v. Gonzalez - Guilty Adjudication Affirmed in Juvenile Sex Crime Case

by The Law Office of Timothy L. Healy

Although juveniles in Washington's criminal justice system are afforded certain protections not necessarily granted to adults, they should seek experienced legal representation when facing serious criminal allegations. dispair.jpg

Although the overarching purpose of the juvenile justice system is rehabilitation rather than punishment, the end result can still have severe and long-lasting consequences for a juvenile defendant. Our Tacoma juvenile defense lawyers know this is true even when the case remains in juvenile courts, as opposed to being transferred to the adult system.

This is apparent in the recently affirmed guilty adjudication in the case of Washington v. Gonzalez, before the Washington State Court of Appeals, Division Three. The defendant, just 13 years old when he was initially accused of three counts of first-degree rape of a child, now has a criminal record that is public and available for all to see well into his adulthood.

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August 11, 2014

Washington v. Halls - Domestic Violence Offender Challenges Conviction

by The Law Office of Timothy L. Healy

There is almost never a circumstance in which an offender facing serious felony charges should opt to represent himself. This is true regardless of education and background. Even attorneys charged with crimes will usually opt for outside legal representation.
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An experienced criminal defense attorney can help a defendant avoid potential technical pitfalls and also present evidence in a way that appears objective, fully considered, credible, and in the defendant's favor.

Our Tacoma domestic violence defense lawyers know this is especially important when dealing with cases where the defendant is accused of a crime deemed to show a special moral deficit, such as domestic violence, child abuse, or sex crimes. When a defendant is facing several years behind bars, chances should not be taken when it comes to experienced defense counsel.

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August 4, 2014

U.S. v. Kopstein - Child Porn Conviction Reversed for Improper Entrapment Instructions

by The Law Office of Timothy L. Healy

A man previously convicted of transporting and shipping child pornography to a federal agent he believed was a 12-year-old girl will get a new trial, after a federal appellate court ruled the jury had been improperly instructed on the defendant's only defense, entrapment.
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At trial, the 20-year-old defendant's lawyer conceded his client had no defense for his possession of the illegal images of minors engaged in sex acts with adults. However, he insisted the images never would have been sent to the agent were it not for her encouraging him repeatedly to do so, and that this action amounted to entrapment.

The jury convicted him anyway and sentenced him to five years and six months in prison. However, upon appeal, the appellate court found the jury instructions on the issue of entrapment to be conflicting, confusing, and at one point appearing to indicate the jury could convict the defendant even if his entrapment defense was successful. These poorly written jury instructions resulted in a reversal of the conviction and an order of remand for a new trial.

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July 23, 2014

Washington v. Kinzle - Molestation Conviction Tossed for Failure to Allow Witness Confrontation

by The Law Office of Timothy L. Healy

In all criminal cases, the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right of the accused to confront all witnesses against him or her. That is, the prosecution cannot present witnesses to a jury in a criminal case without giving the defense ample opportunity to cross-examine each witness.
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However, Tacoma sex crimes defense attorneys recognize that there are some exceptions and special conditions in sexually motivated offenses involving children. These special conditions are spelled out in RCW 9A.44.120. This statute allows alleged child victims under age 10 to testify and be cross-examined outside the presence of a jury under certain conditions. However, the statute does not allow for the witness to be excused from cross-examination.

This was the issue in Washington v. Kinzle, where the Washington State Court of Appeals reversed a conviction for failure to abide by this rule.

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July 16, 2014

Washington v. Harrington - Kidnapping Statute Challenged in Domestic Violence Case

by The Law Office of Timothy L. Healy

The term "kidnapping" brings to mind images of strangers in masks, grabbing persons off the street at gunpoint and forcing them into a vehicle to be taken to some unknown location. But the charge is often applied in domestic violence cases where alleged victims indicate they simply did not feel free to leave.
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Divorce can be an incredibly contentious event for those involved. Matters can be further complicated when one or both parties suffers from mental illness or addiction.

For one Washington man, a serious injury, disability, and an addiction to prescription pain medication devolved into a deep depression with multiple suicide attempts and, eventually, a dispute with his wife of 21 years that led to a first-degree kidnapping conviction.

Tacoma domestic violence defense lawyers understand that following his conviction, the defendant in Washington v. Harrington challenged not only the sufficiency of evidence in the case, but also the validity of the state's kidnapping statute. He was ultimately unsuccessful.

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July 9, 2014

Washington v. Swanson - Indecent Exposure Conviction Upheld

by The Law Office of Timothy L. Healy

The Washington State Court of Appeals rejected a defendant's claim that misstatements of law made by a prosecutor during closing arguments of an indecent exposure trial were grounds for a new trial.
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That argument in Washington v. Swanson followed the defendant's conviction on the misdemeanor charge, codified in RCW 9A.88.010. Tacoma sex crime defense attorneys recognize there are very specific elements to this crime, and it is the duty of prosecutors to prove each of them. Prosecutors also have a duty to accurately convey to jurors the elements necessary to prove their case.

According to court records, the defendant pulled up to a coffee stand one early morning in May 2011, while it was still dark. Baristas at this particular shop are scantily clad in bikinis as part of their work attire.

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July 2, 2014

Riley v. California - U.S. Supreme Court Requires Warrant for Cell Phone Searches

by The Law Office of Timothy L. Healy

In a decision that has been coined a "sweeping victory for privacy rights in the digital age," the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that police must have a warrant if they wish to search the cell phones of people under arrest.
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The case is Riley v. California, and our Tacoma criminal defense attorneys recognize this decision not only affects the 12 million people who are arrested annually but also has implications for searches relating to laptop computers and tablets. The reasoning set forth in this decision could also be applicable to searches of businesses, homes, and third-party phone service providers.

In very short order, the justices indicated, cell phones have become so pervasive and important to our culture as to practically be seen as "an important feature of human anatomy." (Or at least, that's what Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. indicated a visitor from Mars might conclude). Still, it is the long-standing principles of privacy and protection from unreasonable searches that govern.

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June 24, 2014

Arkansas v. Wright - Suppression of Criminal Statements Made During Job Application Process

by The Law Office of Timothy L. Healy

While it's not illegal for two consenting adults to engage in sexual intercourse, if one of those adults is an inmate and the other is a corrections officer, it is considered criminal. Not only could the corrections officer lose his job, he could be charged with sexual assault and become an inmate himself.
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All of this is to say if such a scenario were to occur, it would be unwise to discuss it with anyone, let alone a potential employer that is a law enforcement agency.

However, that's exactly what the defendant in Arkansas v. Wright did, following assurances from a polygraph examiner that his answers "won't leave this room."

That was at least a minor untruth, considering his answers ended up making it all the way to the state supreme court.

Although this was not a Washington sex crimes defense case, it's valid for illustration of what not to do as a defendant, and also interesting for the way that his defense attorneys were successful in avoiding conviction.

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June 17, 2014

Washington v. Powell - Explicit Sexual Conduct Definition Expanded

by The Law Office of Timothy L. Healy

A high-profile case had a lower-profile moment recently in a Washington State Appeals Court, where justices reinstated earlier charges that had been dismissed.
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Previously, photographic and video images of minor females using the restroom was not considered "explicitly sexual content" under Washington state law. However, following a 2010 amendment to RCW 9.68A.011, that changed. Specifically, subsections (e) and (f) address this particular type of image. The 2010 change in law essentially holds that it isn't necessary for the minor in the images to know what they are doing has sexual stimulation or purpose for the person creating the images.

Tacoma sex crimes defense attorneys recognize that this decision appears to indicate that the courts will apply this law retroactively, since the images in question were created prior to 2009, although the defendant here may still have the option of appeal.

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June 10, 2014

Washington v. Olsen - Out-of-State Felony Convictions Work Against You

by The Law Office of Timothy L. Healy

The Washington Supreme Court has ruled that an out-of-state conviction for "making a terrorist threat" could count against a defendant as a felony, to be factored into his sentencing score.
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The defendant argued upon appeal that this decision was improper, given that Washington State doesn't have the same charge on its books. Tacoma domestic violence defense attorneys know that this issue arises frequently in cases where a defendant has out-of-state convictions.

The problem is that criminal laws can vary vastly from state to state. What is considered a crime in Utah is not necessarily a crime in California. What the courts in Washington have historically tried to do, per the 1998 decision in State v. Morley, is to compare elements of the out-of-state conviction to the relevant crime in Washington. And so courts will apply the former conviction as a sentencing factor accordingly.

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June 3, 2014

U.S. v. Reid - Sixth Circuit Upholds Mann Act Conviction

by The Law Office of Timothy L. Healy

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently rejected defense argument in United States v. Reid that a federal Mann Act conviction was improper.
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Tacoma sex crimes defense lawyers know there are highly specific elements prosecutors must prove to secure a conviction under the act, codified in 18 U.S.C. 2421. This is a measure that bars the transport of any person in interstate or foreign commerce for the purpose of engaging in prostitution or any other sexual activity for which the defendant might face a criminal offense.

The U.S. Attorney's manual stipulates that unless the victims are minors, prosecutions under the act should primarily be limited to those engaged in commercial prostitution ventures.

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May 27, 2014

5-Year Cyberstalking Sentence Upheld by Appellate Court

by The Law Office of Timothy L. Healy

Given the breezy nature of electronic communications, it can be easy to forget that a few clicks could result in potential prison time.
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Of particular interest in recent months has been the issue of "revenge porn," which involves sharing images, texts, videos of a sexual nature of a person without his or her consent. It includes the word "revenge" because it most often involves ex-romantic partners whose relationship has soured, with the sharing of images being a means of retaliation.

Washington state legislators proposed a "revenge porn" bill - HB 2250 - in February of this year, which would have made revenge porn a Class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. The measure isn't expected to advance beyond committee, though it may arise again in future sessions.

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May 20, 2014

Washington Supreme Court Rules on Domestic Violence Case

by The Law Office of Timothy L. Healy

A prosecutor's failure in a domestic violence case to fully define the word "restrain" in charging documents, or adequately explain "recklessly" in jury instructions, resulted in an appeal that made it all the way to the Washington Supreme Court. The court overturned conviction on one of the defendant's five felony charges.
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The decision in Washington v. Johnson is especially relevant in light of a new report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, indicating that 21 percent of all violent crime victims between 2003 and 2012 were harmed as a result of domestic violence. The majority - 15 percent - involved intimate partner violence.

Tacoma domestic violence defense lawyers know these cases can be complex because they tend to rely a great deal on pitting one person's word against that of another. Often, the two are involved in a contentious split or sometimes a bitter child custody battle. The incentive for false accusations and exaggeration is great. Defendants find themselves battling a serious stigma long before the case ever goes to trial. Proving a client not guilty requires a legal team with extensive experience.

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May 9, 2014

Paroline v. U.S. - Child Pornography Restitution Limited by U.S. Supreme Court

by The Law Office of Timothy L. Healy

An accuser in child pornography cases isn't entitled to limitless restitution from the defendant, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled recently in Paroline v. United States.
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Tacoma child pornography defense attorneys recognize that this ruling is significant for the fact that it may substantially reduce the potential restitution for certain defendants, while expanding it for others.

The court rejected the idea that a single person who possesses images of child pornography will be required to pay the full amount due the victim, but did say that victims have the right to pursue damages from every person caught with the illegal images.

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May 2, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court OK's Police Use of Anonymous Tips in Traffic Stops

by The Law Office of Timothy L. Healy

An anonymous 911 caller can provide enough of a basis necessary for police to initiate a traffic stop. That's according to a new ruling handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court.
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Our Tacoma criminal defense attorneys know that this gives defendants in a wide variety of cases less means to successfully challenge evidence gathered in the course of a stop. In some instances, that's the kind of evidence that can make or break a case.

Still, the high court indicated that the anonymous call must be considered in light of the totality of the circumstances. That means an experienced lawyer could secure a motion to suppress if it can be shown that the caller's information didn't rise to the level of reasonable suspicion.

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