Saturday, November 15, 2008

Criminal Case Law Update

The following cases of note were decided recently in Washington's high courts:

Supreme Court:

State v. Cayenne: The Court upheld a sentencing condition prohibiting a Native American tribal member convicted of off-reservation illegal fisihing using a gillnet from owning a gillnet for the next eight months. The Court disagreed with the Court of Appeals, which had partially reversed the sentence, holding that the sentencing court had no authority to restrict a tribal members rights while on the reservation. The Court pointed out that the defendant had appeared before the trial court and subject to its full sentencing authority, including crime-related prohibitions, and the trial court had authority to impose appropriate sentencing conditions that would follow the individual defendant. Limiting that authority to off-reservations activities, the Court reasoned, "would create the unwanted result of permitting tribal lands to be havens for criminals avoiding justice after violating state laws." A copy of the decision may be viewed online at:

State v. Gossage: The Court held that Mr. Gossage was entitled to a certificate of discharge from his sentence, despite the fact that he had not paid the full amount of restitution ordered, because all legal financial obligations (LFOs) expired ten years from the date of release from confinement under the plain language of RCW 9.94A.760(4). A copy of the decision may be viewed online at:

Division One Court of Appeals:

State v. Webb: The Court held that the State failed to prove that Mr. Webb was physically proximate to the passenger compartment of his vheicle at the time he was arrested for DUI, and therefore the items seized in the search incident to arrest of that area must be suppressed. In this case, Mr. Webb stopped his vehicle in the right hand lane of traffic, was been removed from his car and directed to the sidewalk by the officer who stopped him, and then placed under arrest by a second officer after an interview and field tests. After Mr. Webb was secured in the second officer's patrol car, he gave the officers permission to move his vehicle off the street, which they did, parking it in a bank parking lot some 40-50 feet away. The officers then searched the car, including the use of a canine search, without a warrant and "incident to arrest" and located cocaine and drug paraphernalia. After a lengthy examination of the search incident to arrest exception to the warrant requirement, the court overturned the search, holding that "Washington law requires more than temporal and physical proximity between the arrest and the search. It also requires physical proximity between the suspect and the vehicle at the time of arrest." A copy of the decision may be viewed online at:

Division Three Court of Appeals:

State v. Williams: The Court found improper the imposition of a firearm enhancement rather than a deadly weapons enhancement to the defendant's sentence where the jury found that the defendant was armed with a deadly weapon rather than a firearm. The Court noted that the Supreme Court has held that sentencing to a firearm enhancement as opposed to a deadly weapons enhancement can never be harmless error. The Court held that the trial court was without authority to impose a firearm enhancement and remanded for resentencing. A copy of the decision may be found online at:

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