Ryan Witt

Ryan Witt

Kitsap County is quick to criminally charge people with the crime of Aiming or Discharging a Firearm or Other Dangerous Weapon. But is the charge always justified? 

Kitsap County consists of 395 square miles of land, and it is not heavily populated. As such, many families and individuals live on 5 or more acres. One of the draws for many people about Kitsap County is the ability to discharge firearms. However, at least in our office's opinion, that privilege is frowned upon by the County Prosecuting Attorney and by local law enforcement. In light of that information, is is legal to discharge a firearm on your own property? The answer lies in reading the state and local statutes combines. 

State Firearms Statute - RCW 46.41.230 Aiming Or Discharging Firearms, Dangerous Weapons

(1) For conduct not amounting to [an assault], any person who:


(a) Aims any firearm, whether loaded or not, at or towards any human being;


(b) Willfully discharges any firearm, air gun, or other weapon, or throws any deadly missile in a public place, or in any place where any person might be endangered thereby. A public place shall not include any location at which firearms are authorized to be lawfully discharged; or


(c) Except as provided in RCW 9.41.185, sets a so-called trap, spring pistol, rifle, or other dangerous weapon,
although no injury results, is guilty of a gross misdemeanor punishable under chapter 9A.20 RCW.

 

In summary of the state statute, a person may not aim a firearm towards any human being, discharge a firearm in a public place, or in any place where a person might be endangered

Kitsap County Statute - 10.25.020(b) Firearms Discharge

(1) The discharge of firearms is prohibited within 500 yards of any shoreline.

(2) The discharge of firearms is [additionally prohibited in certain enumerated locations] - See statute for specifics.

(b) [The discharge of firearms is prohibited] [o]n any parcel of land less than five acres in size.

In summary of the Kitsap statute, a person may not shoot within 500 feet from a shoreline, in certain locations, and if the person's piece of land is less than five acers in size. In other words, If your piece of land is more than five acers, and not by a shore line, you are most likely good. 

Reading The State And Local Statutes Together

Our understanding is this - a person may not aim a firearm towards any human being, discharge a firearm in a public place, or in any place where a person might be endangered. Additionally, the plot of land on which you are shooting must be larger than five acers in size. 

The State's Argument - Which Is Unsuccessful

We have seen the State attorneys argue that the act of discharging a firearm "potentially" endangers any human being if anyone is even remotely nearby. Their argument to the Court fails. The Court recognizes that the State is trying to make a "per-se" argument - basically just the act of discharging a firearm in and of itself is inherently dangerous to anyone nearby. This argument is overly broad and inconsistent with the wording of the controlling statutes. 

If you have been charged with the crime of Aiming or Discharging a Firearm or Other Dangerous Weapon or any other Kitsap County crime, give our office a call. 

 

This, nor any of our blogs, are intended to be legal advice. All situations are different and each require a private discussion with an attorney. Do not misconstrue his blog post for the advice of local, licensed counsel. 

 

 

 

 

Vehicle Prowling In The Second Degree is a Gross Misdemeanor, which means the maximum penalty is up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.  Getting an attorney early on, even before the arraignment, can often alter the course of how the criminal charge will ultimately resolve. 

 

Elements Of The Vehicle Prowling Charge

 

The elements of Vehicle Prowling in the Second Degree are as follows: 

•  A person is guilty of vehicle prowling in the second degree if, with intent to commit a crime against a person or property therein, he or she enters or remains unlawfully in a vehicle other than a motor home, as defined in RCW 46.04.305, or a vessel equipped for propulsion by mechanical means or by sail which has a cabin equipped with permanently installed sleeping quarters or cooking facilities.

"Enters Or Remains Unlawfully"

 

To fully understand the charge, one must also understand the definition of "enters or remains unlawfully". The definition is as follows:

•  A person "enters or remains unlawfully" in or upon premises when he or she is not then licensed, invited, or otherwise privileged to so enter or remain.

Based on the elements of Vehicle Prowling in the second degree, one is guilty of the offense even if the entry is for a fleeting moment and even if noting is actually taken from the vehicle. If an individual merely enters a vehicle to snoop around, but doesn't actually take something, that conduct would still meet the elements. However, if a person got into a car accidentally, because the cars looked similar, that would not be a crime because the prosecuting authority would most likely not be able to prove the "intent to commit a crime" element. 

 

Ways To Resolve A Vehicle Prowling Charge

 

There are defenses to Vehicle Prowling but, for the most part, a defense attorney is attacking the element of intent.  Any defense attorney will be exploring if the State can disprove whether the entry was an accident. Additionally, Vehicle Prowling in the Second Degree cases are handled in District and Municipal Courts, as they are gross misdemeanors. Being that they are handled in these “lower” Courts, there are more options regarding how to resolve a Vehicle Prowling case other than going to trial or pleading guilty.

Most jurisdictions have some form of a Pre-Trial Diversion Agreement, or "PDA," which is essentially a contract between the Defendant and the Prosecuting Authority. With this type of Diversion Agreement, the Court does not sentence a defendant, the Court merely approves the contract between the parties (the Defendant and the Prosecutor). If the defendant abides by the terms of the contract, the Vehicle Prowling charge is typically dismissed at the end of the agreed upon term. Procedurally, the case goes onto a long continuance and then ends in a dismissal – there is never a conviction if all the terms are met. If you would like to learn more about Pre-Trial Diversion Agreements, see below.

 
More Info On PDA's 

 

If a defendant wishes to not resolve the matter through a Diversion, they always have the right to go to trial. At trial, a defendant can require the Prosecutor to prove every element of the Vehicle Prowling in the Second Degree charge beyond a reasonable doubt. This may be the route you want to go, but make sure to discuss all the risks involved with competent counsel. 

 

We Are Here For You, 24/7

 

Witt Law Group serves individuals who have been charged with the crime of Vehicle Prowling in Kitsap County (including Bremerton, Port Orchard, Silverdale, Kingston, Poulsbo & Seabeck). We have offices in Gig Harbor, Bremerton and Poulsbo for your convenience. We offer free consultations and can be reached at (360) 792-1000 (Bremerton) or (253) 312-3838 (Gig Harbor) or (360) 773-8598 (Poulsbo) or you can text one of our attorneys at (360) 710-0027.

 

If the topic of Vehicle Prowling was interesting to you, please CLICK HERE to read more similar articles in our Blog.

 

 

First, an evaluation is extremely helpful in DUI cases. Most private defense attorneys will want this done and completed early because it helps with negotiation. A skilled negotiator is equally, if not more, important as trial experience when it comes to DUI cases. Unfortunately, clients are frequently misinformed about negotiation vs. trial due to law firm advertisements.

 

We see the negative impact of gimmicky advertising all the time. Due to misinformation, we spend a great deal of time and significant effort educating new clients on the realities of a DUI charge in Washington. The problems can be even more significant when the client is from another state and is unaware of the unique rules in Washington—including the fact we are an implied consent state.

 

So What Does The Eval Do?

 

A drug and alcohol evaluation can be extremely helpful because it can be a tool that the prosecutor uses to make a favorable decision in your case. When your defense attorney can establish legal issues with your arrest and also establish that you are not a threat to the community, via no dependency issues, it improves your odds of a good outcome.

 

In a nutshell, a positive evaluation can help negotiations run much more smoothly. There are a lot more details to this process but, suffice it to say, taking the proactive step to get an evaluation before your first pretrial can make a significant difference in assisting your attorney get the end game you want. It might be a dismissal one year later, after avoiding any further criminal violations, or it might be some other agreement. Basically, if you get an evaluation at a location that will give you a fair shake, your evaluation can be a positive tool in your defense.

 

Where Do I Make The Appointment?

 

Always ask our attorneys where you should go for an evaluation. Not all evaluators are equally qualified, meet the court standards, and some have more history of financial incentive (assigning lots of treatment that their company gets paid to provide). There are many factors to consider before you pay for an evaluation.

 

For More Information About Evaluations, CLICK HERE

 

If you have any further questions about signing up for an evaluation or how it might help in your specific case, contact one of our lawyers. Every case is unique so do not take the above information as legal advice. Do not take your friend’s advice. Do not substitute general blog advice. Do not delay getting advice. Call early in your case and contact a trusted experienced criminal defense lawyer in the area where you were criminally charged.

 

November 12, 2020

Contingency Fee

How does a personal injury lawyer get paid?

An attorney who is working on a personal injury case has a very different set of rules and interests than other areas of the law. To avoid having an injured person unfairly treated due to a lack of funds to sue a tortfeasor (at fault party), the rules allow attorneys to charge a contingency fee for the case. This means the lawyer will not get paid unless the lawyer is able to successfully resolve the case for their injured client. The contingency fee for almost all personal injury cases is 33% for the law firm. If the case goes to trial and is very complex or costly in terms of experts, the law firm may raise that contingency fee to 40-50% of the verdict. If it is a simple auto accident trial and experts are not needed, some firms will keep the 33% fee in place. 

The unique value of the Witt Law Group attorneys handling your injury case is that we will never make more money than our clients—even if we are entitled to the 33% fee. Try to find another law firm that will put that in writing! 

We are different because our law firm receives nearly three-quarters of our cases on referral. This means we keep people happy and they think of us when their friends and family need legal help. It is in our best interest to make sure we treat our community right and we have been successful because of that philosophy. In a time when firms spend tens of thousands of dollars a month in advertising, we just have to treat clients fairly. Occasionally, it might cost a bit in cutting our fee but, so far, we don’t regret giving money to a client rather than spending it on an advertisement. 

Being charged with a DUI in Washington is a scary ordeal, especially if you don't know how the case may resolve. This blog post is intended to provide some guidance for those new to the criminal justice process. A DUI is one of the few crimes charged at the misdemeanor / gross misdemeanor level that has "sentencing guidelines." In other words, you can find where you are on a grid and see what your sentencing range will be. The variables on the grid are (1) number of priors, and (2) the level of the blow (or refusal). The following is an except from what is commonly known as the DUI Grid. It is used in all Washington DUI cases where a person has been convicted of DUI. 

SENTENCING GRID FOR 1ST OFFENSE

 

DUI Grid 1st Offense     DUI Grid 1st Offense refusal

 

Mandatory Jail

As you can see, the amount of jail depends upon a person's BAC, or if they refused the BAC test. A blow that is under a .15 has a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 1 day. If the blow is over .15, or a refusal, then the mandatory minimum is 2 days in jail. 

Mandatory Fines

Fines also increase if a person's blow is above .15, or if they refused the rest. If the blow is under .15, the fines are $990.50, if over .15, or a breath test refusal, the fines increases to a minimum of $1,245.50. 

Licensing Ramifications

If you blow, the Department of Licensing will typically suspend your driver's license for 90 days. It a person blows over a .15, the suspension is typically 1 year. If the BAC test is offered and refused, then the suspension is typically 2 years. Keep in mind there are ways to challenge the suspension. If you would like to challenge the DOL's license suspension, click HERE.

Mandatory Conditions of DUI Probation

Once an individual has been convicted of a DUI, certain conditions come into play.  The individual must not (1) drive without a valid license, (2) drive without liability insurance which is typically high risk or SR-22 insurance, (3) drive with an alcohol concentration over .08, or a THC concentration of over 5 ng/ml, (4) refuse to submit to a breath test when reasonably requested, (5) dive without a functioning ignition interlock device as required by DOL. 

For every violation of any one of these conditions, the Court must sanction the individual by a minimum of 30 days of confinement! That is a very harsh sanction, especially for a first time offender. Additionally, the Court will order that DOL extend the individuals license suspension for 30 extra days. 

There Are Better Ways To Resolve Than A Plea Of Guilty!

The purpose of this blog is to explain the penalties for a DUI when a person is found Guilty. However, we strive in all cases to avoid having our clients plead guilty. To read about our defense strategies and how we try to resolve cases to avoid the guilty finding, click HERE. Also, you can find a tremendous amount of DUI information in our BLOG. We would be glad to answer any questions about a Washington DUI. If you have any questions, please give our office a call. 

In the age of "stay home" orders and Court closures, many Courts are moving towards technology like Zoom. Gig Harbor Municipal Court is one to utilize this technology. This post is designed to allow you an easy way to enter a Gig Harbor Municipal Court Zoom Hearing.

 

How To Enter The Zoom Hearing
 

Click the following button for admission to the hearing. Unless you have already downloaded Zoom, you will need to download it when prompted. You may have to wait in a virtual waiting room until court begins. 

 

CLICK HERE
 

If you have any questions or issues with joining the meeting, give us a call at (360) 792-1000 right away. We suggest entering the meetings about 5 minutes early so any issues can be resolved. We look forward to seeing you in our upcoming Gig Harbor Zoom hearing!

In the age of "stay home" orders and Court closures, many Courts are moving towards technology like Zoom. Mason County District Court is one to utilize this technology. This post is designed to allow you an easy way to enter a Mason County District Court Zoom Hearing.

 

How To Enter The Mason County Hearing
 

Click the following button for admission to the hearing. Unless you have already downloaded Zoom, you will need to download it when prompted. You may have to wait in a virtual waiting room until court begins. 

 

CLICK HERE
 

If you have any questions or issues with joining the meeting, give us a call at (360) 792-1000 right away. We suggest entering the meetings about 5 minutes early so any issues can be resolved. We look forward to seeing you in our upcoming Mason County Zoom hearing!

If you have been declared a "Habitual Traffic Offender", or HTO, you may be able to have the revocation stayed (not imposed). In order to do this, you must submit a HTO Hearing Request Form. 

 

Eligibility For HTO Hearing 

If the offenses that led to the HTO were caused by drug or alcohol dependency, you may request a hearing to have your license revocation stayed (not imposed). A stay may be granted if:

•  You've been assessed as "substance dependent".  To prove you meet this requirement, you must contact your assessing agency and have them submit a completed Assessment/Treatment Report from a State certified agency. 


•  Since the last offense, you've completed a treatment program or have completed the first 60 days of treatment with current compliance.

 •  You aren't in HTO status for violating a previous stay or probation.


•  The offenses leading to your license revocation were caused by or the result of alcoholism or drug addiction.

•  You've been in HTO status for at least 4 years.


•  There's no evidence you've driven within the past 2 years.


•  You've met all alcohol requirements (if any).


•  You aren't suspended for non-compliance with treatment.


•  At least 1 year has passed since any previous reinstatement requests have been denied.

How To Request An HTO Hearing

To request an HTO hearing, complete a Habitual Traffic Offender Hearing Request, found at the bottom of this article.

 

The completed form can be sent through the mail:


Hearing and Interviews Section
Department of Licensing
PO Box 9031
Olympia, WA 98507

The completed form can be sent via fax:


(360) 570-4950

 

CLICK HERE to access the HTO Hearing Request Form

In the age of "stay home" orders and Court closures, many Courts are moving towards technology like Zoom. The Kitsap County Superior Court is one to utilize this technology. This post is designed to allow you an easy way to enter a Kitsap County Superior Court Zoom Hearing.

 

How To Enter The Hearing In Room 212

Click the following button for admission to the hearing. Unless you have already downloaded Zoom, you will need to download it when prompted. You may have to wait in a virtual waiting room until court begins. When you are logging on, ZOOM may ask you for a password. If you need a password, it is: 

212

 

CLICK HERE
 

If you have any questions or issues with joining the meeting, give us a call at (360) 792-1000 right away. We suggest entering the meetings about 5 minutes early so any issues can be resolved. We look forward to seeing you in our upcoming Zoom meeting!

In the age of "stay home" orders and Court closures, many Courts are moving towards technology like Zoom. The City of Bainbridge Island is one to utilize this technology. This post is designed to allow you an easy way to enter a Zoom Hearing. 

 

How To Enter The Hearing


Click the following button for admission to the hearing. Unless you have already downloaded Zoom, you will need to download it when prompted. You may have to wait in a virtual waiting room until court begins. You will need the meeting password, which is: 

court
 

CLICK HERE
 

If you have any questions or issues with joining the meeting, give us a call at (360) 792-1000 right away. We suggest entering the meetings about 5 minutes early so any issues can be resolved. We look forward to seeing you in our upcoming Zoom meeting!