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When Washington car accident victims apply for no-fault benefits from their own insurer, they may not consider that the information contained in the application could affect their claim against the at-fault driver.  In a recent case, however, the information in the application played a significant role at trial.

bicycleThis case involved an eight-year-old boy who was struck by a van.  The defendant stopped and got out of her van when she heard a noise and felt the van jump.  An eight-year-old boy was lying on the ground near a pickup truck.  The van had run over one of his legs.

At issue in the appeal was the admissibility of an application for no-fault benefits.  The boy’s mother speaks only Spanish.  A law firm helped her apply.  She signed a blank application for PIP benefits, and a legal assistant filled it in later.  The legal assistant used the police report in completing the form and wrote that a “child on a bike rode into the road…”

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Under Washington child custody law, there is a rebuttable presumption in favor of granting a parent’s request for relocation.  To deny a relocation, the trial court must find that its detrimental effect would outweigh the benefits to the child and the parent seeking relocation.  RCW 26.09.520 sets forth 11 factors to be considered by the court.

boxIn a recent case, a mother appealed a trial court’s denial of her request to relocate and its modification naming the father as the primary residential parent.  The agreed parenting plan had named the mother as the primary residential parent and allowed the father residential time on Wednesday evenings and every other weekend.  The parents lived within 7.6 miles of each other.

The mother subsequently filed a Child Relocation Act petition.  The husband responded by seeking primary residential placement.  The trial court granted the mother a temporary relocation order, and the mother and children moved about 30 miles away from the father.

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The Washington Constitution, like the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, protects individuals against unlawful searches and seizures.  Evidence obtained through an unlawful search or seizure may be excluded. Washington drug crime attorneys know that whether evidence is excluded often turns on whether the encounter between the defendant and law enforcement constituted a seizure, as seen in a recent case.

hotel hallThe trial court entered findings of fact based on the undisputed facts.  The police received an anonymous tip that a woman with an active arrest warrant was staying in a particular room at a hotel.  The hotel clerk told them the room in question was registered to a different name.  The clerk told them to trespass from the hotel anyone other than the registered guest in the room.

One of the officers recognized the defendant when she answered the door of the room.  She was not the woman for whom they were looking.  The defendant told the officers she was the only person in the room. The clerk came to the room and told the officers the defendant was not registered to the room and asked them to trespass her from the room.  The officers then told the defendant to gather her things and leave.  The officers came into the room to make sure that the woman for whom they were looking was not there and that the defendant did not get a weapon.  One officer asked the defendant for her driver’s license so that he could enter her name in the log, indicating she had been trespassed from the hotel, and to check for any active warrants. The system showed she had a misdemeanor warrant. The officers arrested the defendant.  She had already gathered her property from the room and asked if she could return it, but she was told she could not.  She stated her wallet, phone, and identification were in the purse she had, but it was not her purse, and she did not know anything about any other items in it.  The purse was searched incident to her arrest, and the police found a plastic baggie containing a black, tar-like substance wrapped in a goodwill receipt.   The substance subsequently tested positive for heroin.

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Many people think “domestic violence” is limited to people who are or have previously been married or in a romantic relationship.  Under Washington law, however, domestic violence is defined to include incidents between family or household members.  Sometimes, whether a Washington domestic violence protection order can properly be issued turns on the relationship between the parties, as seen in a recent case.

lawA woman petitioned for a domestic violence protection order against a man to whom she referred as her “uncle.”  The man was seeking repayment of money he had lent the woman, and she alleged he made threats against her and her children.

The man’s attorney challenged whether a domestic violence order was applicable because the parties had never lived together and were not closely related.  The woman had to explain her relationship to the man through an interpreter.  She told the court her father had told her the man was the son of her grandmother’s first cousin.  The court asked her if there was a blood relationship, and she responded, “possibly, yes.”

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The duty of care a landowner owes to a person on his or her property depends on the person’s status as either an invitee, a licensee, or a trespasser.  The highest standard of care is owed to an invitee.  A business invitee is a person invited to come onto or remain on the property for purposes directly or indirectly related to his or her business dealings with the person in possession of the land.  A licensee is a person who is allowed to enter or remain on the property because of the possessor’s consent.  A licensee can be someone who is on the property for their own purposes or a social guest.  Since the duty owed to a person is based on their status, a Washington premises liability case may turn on their status, as seen in a recent case.

stairsThe plaintiff worked as an aesthetician at a plastic surgery office.  One of the defendants had been the plaintiff’s client for several years.  The plaintiff arranged to visit the defendant at her home.  After planning the visit, but before the visit occurred, the plaintiff offered to bring the defendant some scar cream.

The plaintiff stayed at the defendants’ home for about a half hour.  While there, she met members of the family, took a tour of the home, and talked with the defendant.  The defendant paid the plaintiff for the scar cream while she was there. As the plaintiff left, she opened the gate and stepped backwards onto the landing.  She fell backwards.

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In Washington, a person may be convicted of possession of a controlled substance if he or she has actual or constructive possession of the substance.  A person has actual possession if he or she has physical custody of the substance.  A person has constructive possession if he or she has dominion or control over the item.  The dominion and control may be over the substance, or over the premises where it was located.  Washington drug crime attorneys may challenge whether the defendant was in possession of the drugs, or even whether the substance in question was a controlled substance.  In a recent case, the defendant challenged the evidence of possession and of the nature of the substance.

cash boxThe police executed a warrant at a trailer.  A man and his girlfriend were in the front of the trailer.  The police officers found the defendant in a back bedroom with a female and took him into another room.  According to the officers, they asked him where his “bulk amount of dope” was, and he gestured with his head toward the room where they found him and said they “might want to check back there.”

The officers found three lines of suspected methamphetamine on a table, two safes, mail addressed to the defendant at another address, knives, a shotgun and a box with shells, two glass pipes, small baggies, and a backpack containing another knife.  They opened one safe with a key they found in a pair of pants.  Inside the safe, they found a baggie containing 17.62 grams of what they believed to be heroin.

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Courts sometimes make mistakes in parenting plans.  A court’s ability to modify a parenting plan is limited, but its ability to clarify an existing plan is broader.  Washington child custody attorneys know that whether an order changing a parenting plan is considered a modification or a clarification may be the determining factor in whether the change is valid, as seen in a recent case.

toysThe case involved a father with a history of mental health issues, marijuana use, and erratic behavior.  This behavior included what the appeals court described as “obsessing” over his daughter being sexually abused.  The trial court included in the parenting plan a provision that allowed the mother to temporarily suspend the father’s visitation right in the event he began acting erratically, or if there was “objective evidence of decompensation or elevated paranoia.”  She could request that he seek a mental health evaluation.  The father’s residential time was to resume when the doctor approved him to have overnight time with the child.  The provision required the mother to file an affidavit/declaration within three business days of the incident.

The mother invoked this provision a week after the entry of the parenting plan.  The father underwent a psychological examination, but the mother did not believe it was sufficient and did not allow visitation to resume. Continue reading

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Some evidence, though relevant, may be unfairly prejudicial.  A court must balance the probative value of evidence against the risk of unfair prejudice.  If the risk of unfair prejudice substantially outweighs its probative value, the evidence must be excluded.  Washington domestic violence attorneys know that some facts about an alleged victim could be prejudicial to their client.

phone receiverA Washington appeals court recently considered whether the trial court erred in allowing limited evidence of the alleged victim’s pregnancy when the defendant appealed his conviction of a misdemeanor violation of a court order with a special finding of domestic violence.

There was a domestic violence no-contact order prohibiting the defendant from contacting or coming within 500 feet of the mother of his child.  The woman was pregnant at the time with another child that was believed to be the defendant’s.

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A person has a fundamental right to parent his or her own natural children.  When a court places a sentencing condition on a person that limits those fundamental rights, it must consider whether there are reasonable alternatives that will further the state’s interest.  If there are no reasonable alternatives, the court must narrowly tailor the condition.  Washington domestic violence attorneys handling these cases must understand the family law implications of any sentencing conditions imposed by the court. This issue recently arose in a case before the Washington Court of Appeals.

windowThe couple had three children together.  In 2015, there were no-contact orders in place keeping the husband from contacting the wife of the six-year-old daughter.  Sheriff’s deputies believed the husband was at the wife’s residence.  They did not receive a response when they first knocked on the door, but the wife ultimately answered and let them in.

One of the deputies found a locked door and heard noises from inside the room.  He forced the door open and found men’s clothing and shoes.  The window was open, but the deputies had observed it to be closed when they walked around the house before entering.

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Injuries can result from even minor automobile accidents.  Washington car accident attorneys know that defendants are likely to challenge causation in such cases, and they may even challenge whether a collision even occurred.  Documentation of the accident and the injury is extremely important, as a recent Washington appeal case shows.

roadThe plaintiff sued the defendant, alleging he was injured in an automobile accident.  According to the plaintiff, the defendant’s vehicle crossed the center line, and the mirror of the defendant’s car struck the mirror of the plaintiff’s car.

The defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing there was no evidence the “alleged accident” caused the plaintiff’s injuries.  She admitted her vehicle crossed the yellow line and “passed closely by” the plaintiff’s car, but she denied hitting the plaintiff’s mirror.  She submitted a repair estimate from her insurer, stating there was “no damage” to her vehicle and including photographs taken by the insurance investigator.

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