October 22, 2014

Washington v. Smith - Felony Charge For Text Message Harassment

by The Law Office of Timothy L. Healy

"New technology creates new ways to terrorize. Text messaging is one such technology."
girlwithphone.jpg
These were the words penned recently by Washington Court of Appeals, Division II Judge George B. Fearing in review of a man's conviction for felony harassment with enhancements for domestic violence after the defendant repeatedly sent text messages threatening to kill his wife and her father, mother, and stepmother. Fearing and two other judges on the appellate panel affirmed the trial court's conviction of the defendant. They were unswayed by his arguments of insufficient evidence, or alternatively that improper testimony and evidence strongly influenced the jury's decision.

It's difficult to comprehend that text messages alone could result in felony charges that could result in years behind bars. Since the technology is so accessible and so immediate, there is a tendency to forget that its use may have real and lasting consequences. But the truth is, a person facing these charges is in serious trouble and needs to consult with an attorney immediately.

Continue reading "Washington v. Smith - Felony Charge For Text Message Harassment" »

October 15, 2014

Warrantless Computer Search Deemed Impermissible, Child Pornography Case Remanded

by The Law Office of Timothy L. Healy

When a person takes a computer or other electronic device to a technician for service, he or she should recognize that anything illegal found in the course of completing that work could be turned over to police. Private citizens are not necessarily bound by the same constitutional code as the government when it comes to searches of property, as long as they have legal access to the property.
electronics.jpg
However, that does not mean law enforcement, relying on such information, can bypass the owner's constitutional rights.

The recent case of People v. Evans illustrates this point, as the California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District, Division Two, reversed a trial court ruling that denied a motion to suppress evidence of video files found by a computer technician after he called police.

Continue reading "Warrantless Computer Search Deemed Impermissible, Child Pornography Case Remanded" »

October 8, 2014

Washington v. Kozey - Violation of Domestic Violence No-Contact Orders

by The Law Office of Timothy L. Healy

If a no-contact order exists in Washington State, it does not matter if it is the alleged victim who initiates contact. If the offender does not immediately hang up, refuse to engage, shut it down, or walk away, he or she could be facing serious consequences, up to and including felony charges that could result in years behind bars.
mobilephone1.jpg
That was the case for the defendant in Washington v. Kozey, recently before the Washington Court of Appeals, Division II. Although both the defendant and the state agreed the repeated violations of the no-contact order, as alleged, did not constitute domestic violence under RCW 26.50.010, the state argued proof of such was not necessary to impose enhanced penalties. Defendant argued proof of this as well as RCW 10.99.020 was necessary to impose enhanced penalties for violation of the domestic violence no-contact order.

Initially, the trial court agreed with the defendant and refused to impose severe sanctions. Instead, he was sentenced to 14 months for one violation and 12 months for another, both to run concurrently. However, the appellate court reversed this finding on appeal, ruling there was merit to the state argument that the no-contact orders, although violated through initiation by the victim, still warranted a more severe penalty as a matter of law because it wasn't necessary to prove the order was violated through another act of domestic violence.

Continue reading "Washington v. Kozey - Violation of Domestic Violence No-Contact Orders" »

October 1, 2014

Ninth Circuit: Rape Lawsuit Against Website to Proceed

by The Law Office of Timothy L. Healy

An internet company operating more than 100 websites will have to face a civil lawsuit claiming its leaders knew rapists were trolling one site for victims and failed to warn its users of the danger.
mouse.jpg
The plaintiff, an aspiring model referred to in the case as "Jane Doe No. 14," said she posted a profile to a site advertising for models, was lured to Miami for a phony audition, and was drugged and raped by two men who filmed the sexual assault for pornographic release. A lower court rejected the plaintiff's claim for liability in Jane Doe No. 14. v. Internet Brands, Inc., DBA Modelmayhem.com, saying the Communications Decency Act shields websites from lawsuits over material posted by others. However, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco recently reversed this ruling, finding merit in the argument the company could be held liable for failing to warn users of potential danger through posting or email.

The crux of the lawsuit wasn't over the material posted on the site, but rather the defendant's alleged failure to warn plaintiff of the risks of posting her photos. Her attorney called the reversal a "landmark opinion" because for the first time, websites might be held liable for failure to protect users from known dangers.

Continue reading "Ninth Circuit: Rape Lawsuit Against Website to Proceed" »

September 24, 2014

Washington v. Andlovec - Jury Unanimity in Accusation of Multiple Acts

by The Law Office of Timothy L. Healy

In Washington criminal cases where a defendant faces charges stemming from multiple criminal acts extending over a period of time, it's important that jurors be instructed on the specific acts they are considering. Otherwise, there is a risk that juror unanimity could be compromised. That is, some jurors might agree to convict on the basis of evidence presented for one act, while others may convict on the basis of evidence presented for another.
lap.jpg
Our Pierce County criminal defense attorneys know this would amount to a constitutional violation. This is why, in the 1984 case of State v. Petrich, the Washington Supreme Court ruled prosecutors may elect which act in a series they rely upon for conviction. Otherwise, a jury should be instructed that all 12 must agree that the same specific underlying act has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. This is referred to as a "Petrich instruction."

However, there are sometimes exceptions, as illustrated in the recent case of Washington v. Andlovec before the Washington Court of Appeals, Division Three. Jurors in this case heard evidence of many separate sexual assaults, and they were never instructed on which specific act they were considering. Defendant raised this issue on appeal.

Continue reading "Washington v. Andlovec - Jury Unanimity in Accusation of Multiple Acts" »

September 17, 2014

Washington v. Slocum - Appeals Court Reverses Molestation Conviction

by The Law Office of Timothy L. Healy

Courts in Washington recognize that, while there may be some value in consideration of the prior bad acts of the accused, there is also danger a defendant may be found guilty not on the strength of evidence supporting the current charge, but rather on the jury's over-reliance on those past acts.
balance2.jpg
In the 1982 case of State v. Saltarelli, the Washington Supreme Court noted that nowhere is potential for this type of prejudice higher than for those accused of sex offenses. This is why our Tacoma criminal defense attorneys fight vigorously where possible to prevent the admission of past crimes into evidence.

In the recent case of Washington v. Slocum, before the Washington Court of Appeals, Division Three, the court was asked to consider whether evidence of past crimes unduly influenced the jury in its conviction on the most recent charges.

Continue reading "Washington v. Slocum - Appeals Court Reverses Molestation Conviction" »

September 10, 2014

Washington v. Peltier - Be Wary of Waiver of Rights in Plea Agreement

by The Law Office of Timothy L. Healy

The Washington Supreme Court recently ruled a defendant in a child rape case has the ability to expressly waive the criminal statute of limitations in a pretrial agreement, as long as the clock hasn't yet run out on the underlying charge at the time the defendant enters the agreement.
workeradjustswatch.jpg
But why would anyone agree to open themselves up to a criminal conviction that would otherwise be time-barred? The court explains in Washington v. Peltier. Our Tacoma sex crimes defense lawyers believe this case underscores the need for defendants in these serious cases to secure strong legal representation prior to entering a plea agreement with the state.

Let's start by first explaining the theory of the statute of limitations in criminal cases, which is that defendants shouldn't be convicted on the basis of information and testimony that is stale, dated, and therefore likely unreliable. Some crimes have a short statute of limitations lasting just a few years, while others, like murder, have no statute of limitations.

Continue reading "Washington v. Peltier - Be Wary of Waiver of Rights in Plea Agreement" »

September 3, 2014

Washington v. Daniels - Appellate Court Upholds Child Prostitution Charge

by The Law Office of Timothy L. Healy

A Tacoma man recently appealed his conviction on numerous charges, including promotion of commercial sexual abuse of a minor (PCSAM) and second-degree promotion of prostitution. As part of the appeal, the defendant argued the two charges were one and the same, and that conviction on both amounted to double jeopardy.
prettyfeet.jpg
However, the Washington Court of Appeals for Division II rejected this argument, reasoning the legislature intended separate punishments for these two crimes, even though they are virtually the same thing.

The legislature's crackdown on sex crimes against children, and society's reluctance to challenge it, are primary reasons why those accused need the intervention of an experienced Tacoma sex crimes defense attorney early in the case.

In Washington v. Daniels, the accused reportedly met a 15-year-old girl as she walked home from a gas station. She reportedly told him she was 19. The pair exchanged phone numbers, and several days later they met up at the home of the defendant's cousin. There, he taught her how to post advertisements online to sell her body and recruited her as a prostitute. Advertisements were posted online, and he also had her walking the streets of Seattle at certain points.

Continue reading "Washington v. Daniels - Appellate Court Upholds Child Prostitution Charge" »

August 25, 2014

U.S. v. Watkins - Pre-Questioning Promises of a Police Officer

by The Law Office of Timothy L. Healy

If ever there existed a glaring example of why defendants should never trust the promises of a police officer or federal agent prior to giving a statement, it's the recent case of U.S. v. Watkins, which was heard recently by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
laptopcomputer.jpg
Our Tacoma child pornography defense attorneys know the irreversible damage that can be done when a person speaks to authorities without an attorney, no matter what assurances are given or the good of your own intentions.

The Watkins case began with the gruesome homicide of a seven-year-old Florida girl, whose body was found in a Georgia landfill. In investigating that crime, federal agents went to the home of this defendant, who was later cleared of any wrongdoing related to the homicide. The girl reportedly spent time at the defendant's home, since she had been a friend of the defendant's grandchildren.

Continue reading "U.S. v. Watkins - Pre-Questioning Promises of a Police Officer" »

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.

Continue reading "Washington v. Gonzalez - Guilty Adjudication Affirmed in Juvenile Sex Crime Case" »

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.
fighting.jpg
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.

Continue reading "Washington v. Halls - Domestic Violence Offender Challenges Conviction" »

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.
click.jpg
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.

Continue reading "U.S. v. Kopstein - Child Porn Conviction Reversed for Improper Entrapment Instructions" »

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.
desperation.jpg
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.

Continue reading "Washington v. Kinzle - Molestation Conviction Tossed for Failure to Allow Witness Confrontation" »

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.
danceorfight1.jpg
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.

Continue reading "Washington v. Harrington - Kidnapping Statute Challenged in Domestic Violence Case" »

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.
coffeepreparation.jpg
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.

Continue reading "Washington v. Swanson - Indecent Exposure Conviction Upheld" »