Assaults Involving a Deadly Weapon or Firearm: A Criminal Defense Attorney’s Prospective
Though it is common knowledge among experienced criminal defense lawyers | attorneys, many are surprised to find out that Washington law has created a series of mandatory sentence enhancements surrounding the use of a firearm or deadly weapon in the commission of a crime. Though case law has made some fact specific exceptions, the Revised Code of Washington states this rule applies to all felonies but those where use of a firearm is part of the crime itself (Possession of a machine gun, possessing a stolen firearm, drive-by shooting, theft of a firearm, unlawful possession of a firearm in the first and second degree, and use of a machine gun in a felony). If you or a loved one is involved in or is being investigated for a felony assault involving a deadly weapon or firearm, retaining private counsel early on is a wise decision as these sentencing enhancements are serious.
Firearms vs. Deadly Weapons
“Firearm” means a weapon or device from which a projectile or projectiles may be fired by an explosive such as gunpowder. RCW 9.41.010.
Firearms. Whether you are an accomplice or the accused, whether you are charged with completing a felony or are charged with attempting, conspiring or soliciting to commit a felony, the Revised Code of Washington states that if a judge or jury finds you used a firearm in the commission of a felony (with very few exceptions), you are subject to a sentencing enhancement that must be served in total confinement. This additional time is on top of any other time sentenced on the underlying felony assault charge and you do not receive good time on this additional sanction. This means there is nothing your criminal defense lawyer | attorney or the prison system can do to change the firearm enhancement number: no mitigating arguments, early release, or good time can be applied to shorten this mandatory time in prison. Depending on how serious Washington law categorizes the felony, the mandatory minimums range from 18 months on Class C felonies, 3 years on class B felonies or 5 years on Class A felonies. Again, this additional time is on top of any other time sentenced on the underlying felony assault charge. If you or a loved one is charged with a crime involving a firearm, it is essential you retain a criminal defense lawyer | attorney as soon as possible.
A deadly weapon is defined by criminal law as any explosive or loaded or unloaded firearm, and shall include any other weapon, device, instrument, article, or substance, including a “vehicle”. It all depends on the circumstances in which it is used, attempted to be used, or threatened to be used, or is readily capable of causing death or substantial bodily harm.” RCW 9A.04.110
Deadly Weapons. Again, it doesn’t matter if you are charged as the accomplice or accused, whether you are charged as completing a felony or simply attempting, conspiring or soliciting to commit such an felony, Washington law will require to you do additional time if a judge or jury finds you used a deadly weapon in the commission of most felonies or any felony assaults. Again, there is nothing a criminal defense attorney | lawyer or the prison system’s reward system for good time can do to shorten these mandatory minimums. There are nuances in the case law surrounding this code section that can allow your criminal defense lawyer | attorney to argue about its application, but these are the exceptions not the rule. Depending on the seriousness of the underlying crime, this enhancement is 6 months for Class C felonies, 1 year for Class B felonies and 2 years for Class A felonies.
Clients retain or hire us because they want an experienced, committed and effective criminal defense lawyers | attorneys who take the time to make sure their rights are protected and are experienced with criminal assault, dispute dynamics and negotiating and trying criminal cases. Our firm is a unique blend of courtroom experience, skills, knowledge and temperament. Consultations are free but a poor choice in counsel is not. The first step is a phone call or appointment.