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Vancouver Washington Criminal Defense Blog

Who Carries The Burden Of Proof For Self-Defense?

Many criminal cases may rely, in whole or in part, on testimony that could include conflicting accounts of what may have occurred. So-called, “he said-she said,” disputes may be part of the evidence that juries must weigh. However, there are other aspects to a criminal trial that a strong defense lawyer knows how to address. Many people know that the prosecution has the burden to prove every element of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. This burden helps to ensure, not only a fair trial, but also to avoid our justice system from becoming some form of a kangaroo court.

In State v. Acosta, a man and a woman met in a bar in Portland and later decided to drive to Vancouver in the woman’s car. They parked in an alley and allegedly smoked some marijuana. At some point, the man could not find his wallet. He believes the woman had taken his wallet. When he confronted her about it and threatened to call police. He says the woman attacked him and tried to choke him with his tie. She had a different story, claiming that the man attacked her and tried to rape her.

A Police Ruse Does Not Replace Notice For The Knock And Wait Rule

Police may try different tactics to gain entry into a home to execute an arrest warrant or a search warrant. Despite having several mechanisms available, entry into a home or building must follow appropriate procedures. The fact that police may make different choices in different cases, they are not given carte blanche to enter a home – they must follow the appropriate rules under the circumstances.

Washington law authorizes police to use force to enter a home or other structure to make a criminal arrest, but only after notifying the occupants of the building of the police presence and the lawful purpose for entry. This is often referred to as the “knock and wait” rule.

Can A Concerted Effort To ‘Sniff’ For Probable Cause Go Too Far?

To support probable cause, police often seek to rely on evidence, or suspicions of potential criminal activity, based upon police observations made while members of law enforcement are legally in a place where the observations are made. However, the reasonableness of the specific actions of police may be called into question, or challenged in many circumstances.

In State v. Boethin, two detectives claimed that they had some kind of suspicion that a marijuana growing operation may have existed at a rural home. They apparently knew that their level of suspicion did not reach the level required to support probable cause. So, they decided to visit the residence, without a warrant, in the hopes that they could get a whiff of marijuana to bolster their hunch concerning the alleged marijuana cultivation operation.

Can police direct others to conduct a warrantless search?

In the previous two posts, we discussed the intricacies of the constitutional protections that are guaranteed by the warrant requirement. A signed search warrant is not necessarily a final legal decision. In fact, the adversarial process of trial may be a vital safeguard if your criminal defense attorney has the skills to fully review the history of the investigation to find flaws in police procedures.

Members of law enforcement often use statements from individuals to gather evidence and support probable cause for a search. However, can police direct a civilian to conduct a warrantless search to gain probable cause for a warrant?

Dismissal of Robbery in the First Degree

On February 8, 2019, Mr. Thayer obtained dismissal of a first-degree robbery case in the Clark County Superior Court. The case arose out of a road rage incident. Mr. Thayer's client grabbed the phone out of the alleged victim's hand and threw it on the ground, before leaving the scene. In order to prove a charge of robbery, the State is required to prove specific intent to steal, which is the equivalent of intent to deprive the victim of her property permanently. Mr. Thayer filed a motion to dismiss because the fact that his client left the phone at the scene proved that he did not have intent to permanently deprive. The court agreed, and granted the motion.

Are There Exceptions To The Warrant Requirement?

The Fourth Amendment provides protection against government overreach when law enforcement searches for evidence of a crime. The home and its immediate surroundings, often described as the curtilage of the home, are given strong protections under the warrant requirement. In most situations, law enforcement is required to obtain a warrant based upon a showing of probable cause in order to lawfully conduct a search. The courts, however, recognize several exceptions to the warrant requirement, including:

Where is the evidence to support probable cause?

We recently discussed whether a signed warrant could be challenged in court. That story related to a federal appellate decision. Constitutional guarantees against unreasonable searches and seizures is strong in Washington state courts, as well as federal courts. Take for instance the case of State v. Kelley, 762 P.2d 20 (Wn. App. 1988). In that case, attorney Steven W. Thayer challenged the validity of a warrant to successfully defend against several counts of drug charges and an associated allegation involving unlawfully obtained electricity.

The information submitted in support of the search warrant

Can a search warrant be challenged in court?

Many people may understand that police generally need to have a warrant to search a home. There are some exceptions to that rule. But, if members of law enforcement have a signed warrant to conduct a search, does that mean that the search is constitutional? The answer to that question requires the full analysis of the individual facts of the event. Police generally must provide sufficient information to a judicial officer to support probable cause for a search to obtain a valid warrant. Members of law enforcement, and judicial officers, can make mistakes related to the issuance of a warrant.

The Need For Particularized Information In A Search Warrant

Facing DUI charges? Act fast to avoid lengthy license suspension

Simple traffic citation hearings don't come close to the legal complexities you'll face for DUI charges in Washington. In addition to facing criminal charges through the courts, you'll also face penalties from the Department of Licensing (DOL).

The DOL establishes an automatic minimum license suspension if you don't act fast after a DUI arrest.

Necessity defense wins DUI case

Over the last 40 years Steve and Jacy Thayer have tried and won just about every kind of DUI case imaginable. Most cases, of course, are resolved by negotiating a reduction in charge. The negotiating objective in most cases is a reduction to negligent driving, which can save a license suspension and jail time, in addition to the stigma of a DUI conviction. Many other cases are resolved on pre-trial motions to suppress evidence or for dismissal. But the most memorable cases are always the ones that get tried.

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