Criminal Defense Case Summaries

Criminal Defense Case Summaries

The aggressive criminal defense and personal injury tactics, innovative legal strategies and hard work of Kannin Law Firm and its attorneys has paid off in victories for our clients, even in the most difficult and seemingly hopeless cases. Kannin Law Firm’s proven track record of excellence in criminal and DUI defense is evidenced by the selected case summaries below and by clients’ testimonials. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

Case Summaries: Five Charges, No Convictions; Taxi Driver; Felony Dismissed; Fruit of the Poisonous Tree; Over the Limit; Turning the Tables on the Prosecution; Innovative Defense Theory; People are More Than Paperwork; Two Out of Three Aint Bad; Where Did the Love Go?

Kannin Law Firm P.S. Criminal Defense cases of note:

Case: City of Seattle v. R.W.: Assault Domestic Violence (two counts) and Violation of a No-Contact Order in Seattle.
Verdict: Not Guilty on all counts.

Case: State of Washington v. D.B.: DUI and DWLS 1st Degree in King County South.
Result: Dismissed on defense motions.

Case: State of Washington v. J.M.: DUI in Tacoma.
Result: Jury verdict of guilty overturned on appeal.

Case: State of Washington v. C.N.: DUI in King County South.
Result: Negotiated settlement and reduced charge after opening statement at trial.

Case: Seattle v. G.B.: Seattle DUI and motor vehicle accident.
Verdict: Not Guilty.

Case: State of Washington v. J.L.J.: Vehicular Assault King County freeway.
Verdict: Not Guilty.

Case: W.R. Smith v. Seattle: Civil Rights/Police Misconduct.
Result: Five-Figure Settlement.

Child Molestation: Five Charges , No Convictions
WA State vs S.D.

S.D. and his wife had been caring for their step-niece, J.P., since she was six, as her mother was in prison and her father unknown. When J.P., now age 13, started visiting inappropriate websites and using her cell phone to send pictures of herself to strangers, S.D. and his wife tried to limit her computer and cell phone usage. J.P. ignored their new rules, prompting S.D. and his wife to further restrict her screen time. In an angry response to the new limits imposed on her, J.P. told her step-mother, “You’ll be sorry!”

The next day, J.P. told a friend that S.D. had been molesting her since she was eight years old. She and her friend told a teacher’s aide, who in turn told the principal of J.P.’s private school in Tacoma. The principal called the police. An officer from the Pierce County Sheriff’s Dept. came to the school and talked to the principal and the aide. He also spoke with J.P. for two or three minutes before leaving and writing his report. CPS came to the school and placed J.P. into foster care. Eventually, Detective Johnson of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department was assigned to the case.

Three days later, on April 15, 2010, J.P. was given a 45-minute forensic interview by a specialist from MaryBridge Hospital. Detective Johnson observed this interview through a two-way mirror. The girl told the interviewer that she was raped and molested on a regular and ongoing basis from the age of eight until the present time.
The interview was reviewed by a sexual assault nurse from the hospital. The nurse also examined J.P. and found no signs of physical entry or injury. She found that J.P.’s hymenal tissues and anal tissues were intact, despite the victim’s allegation that she was anally raped by a cone.

Despite the lack of any physical evidence, the Pierce County prosecuting attorneys charged S.D. with one count of Child Molestation in the First Degree, two counts of Rape of a Child in the First Degree, and two counts of Rape of a Child in the Second Degree. If convicted, S.D. faced a sentence of imprisonment for the term of his natural life.

S.D. hired Kannin Law Firm and attorney John Kannin to defend him in the criminal proceedings. He entered a plea of not guilty to all the charges filed against him.
During the discovery investigation, the defense learned that shortly after making her allegations of sexual assault, J.P. had posted a message to her more than 600 friends on Facebook, saying, “I’ve finally done something about my parent problem.”

The jury trial began on November 7, 2011. The State called witnesses and put on its case for three days, after which the defense presented its case. Witnesses included S.D.’s wife, community members, and S.D. himself, who vehemently denied he had committed these felony sex crimes. Detective Johnson told jurors that his role in the case was limited to about 4.5 hours, most of which was spent trying to set up the forensic interview and observing the interview itself. Johnson himself conducted no interviews.

During closing arguments, the prosecution claimed it had proved its case and that S.D. was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In rebuttal, Mr. Kannin argued that a three-minute interview with police and a changing story from an unreliable source, as well as J.P.’s robotic court testimony and a complete lack of physical evidence, was far from sufficient proof to convict S.D. of the charges filed against him, thereby ruining his life and branding him as a felony sex offender.

The jury deliberated for over a day. In the end, they returned a verdict of ‘not guilty’ on all counts. S.D. was overjoyed to have his life back and all charges against him cleared. Justice was served when the court signed an order entering the not guilty verdict into the court files.


Kidnapping: Taxi Driver
State of WA vs. Y.B.

On May 4, 2011, when Y.B. picked up a passenger at a taxi stand outside an upscale hotel in downtown Bellevue, he never thought the simple trip to the airport would turn into a felony criminal case.

“You talkin’ to me?”

The woman got into Y.B.’s cab and asked him to drive her to the airport. On the way, she expressed concern over the cab’s cracked windshield and the fact that she did not see any taxi driver licenses or credentials displayed. Y.B. told her his license was in his glove compartment and he would show it to her as soon as they arrived at the airport. The disgruntled passenger called the number on the side of the cab to complain. The cab dispatcher incorrectly told the woman that Y.B. was not a licensed cab driver.  At this point, the passenger became alarmed, and told Y.B. to stop the cab and let her out. Y.B. said he could not pull over as they were on the freeway going close to sixty miles an hour, and there was no safe place for him to stop. The passenger called the dispatcher again. The dispatcher called the police and asked them to rescue the woman from the “rogue” taxi driver. When Y.B. arrived at the airport he dropped his passenger off at the departure area. She exited the cab without paying her fare and went to the curbside check-in. Officers from the Port of Seattle Police Department arrived on the scene, arrested Y.B. and towed his cab away. Y.B. was booked into the King County jail and charged with violating RCW 9A.40, Kidnapping, Unlawful Imprisonment, and Custodial Interference, a Class C Felony with a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Upon posting bail, Y.B. hired Kannin Law Firm to defend him against these baseless charges.

John Kannin met with King County prosecuting attorney Todd Bergstrom (see People are More Than Paperwork, below). He showed Bergstrom copies of Y.B.’s state and local taxi licenses and asked him to dismiss the case.  Bergstrom’s response was that the client had still committed a felony crime and he refused to reduce or drop the charges.

The case went to trial before a jury on September 13, 2011 in the King County Superior Court with the Hon. Cheryl Carey presiding.

The state asked to exclude the evidence that Y.B. was a licensed taxi driver, on the grounds that regardless of his credentials, he had unlawfully imprisoned his passenger. The defense objected, stating that the passenger’s concern arose only after she was told that he was not licensed. The defense further argued that the passenger would never have asked to exit the cab in the middle of the freeway had she known Y.B. was in fact a legitimate cab driver. The judge agreed with the defense and denied the state’s motion.

A jury was impaneled, and Mr. Kannin, the judge and prosecutor conferred for the next day of trial. During the conference, Shelby Smith, the trial prosecutor, claimed that she had never seen the licensing documents before and had not been told about them by Mr. Bergstrom. She implied that Mr. Kannin had not furnished the prosecuting attorney’s office with the documents. Fortunately, Mr. Kannin was able to provide proof that the documents had been delivered to the prosecutors a full three months earlier, in June of 2011. After reviewing the strong evidence of Y.B.’s innocence provided by Mr. Kannin, the judge expressed grave doubts regarding the prosecution’s case and asked if they were sure they wanted to proceed.

After conferring with her supervising attorneys, Ms. Smith returned to court the following day and said that the prosecuting attorney’s office had agreed to dismiss the case in its entirety and clear Y.B. of all charges.


Reckless Driving & Vehicular Assault: Felony Dismissed

In September of 2009, Mr. Drake*, a man in his early thirties, drove his pickup truck and camper from California to Port Angeles to visit his family. After driving all day, he arrived at his destination, where he started drinking and smoking marijuana. Drake also consumed the prescription drug Ambien, a sleep aid. Later that night, under the influence of the Ambien and other intoxicants, Drake decided to take his truck out with the camper still attached. During the course of this drive, Drake sideswiped several cars and eventually collided head-on with a metro bus on the 101 freeway when he crossed over the center line.

Many people were injured, including the bus driver, some of the passengers, and the occupants of the cars sideswiped by Drake.

Drake himself sustained life-threatening injuries in the crash. He lost one leg, shattered his other leg, and seriously damaged his arm and shoulder.

A blood sample showed that Drake’s blood alcohol content (BAC) was well over the legal limit.

The City of Port Angeles charged Drake with reckless driving and the State of Washington charged him with vehicular assault; a Class B felony crime with a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

Drake hired Kannin Law Firm to defend him against these charges. Mr. Kannin was able to get the City of Port Angeles to drop its case because he argued that his client couldn’t be prosecuted twice in two different courts for what was essentially the same crime.

Kannin appeared in Clallam County Court on behalf of his client and over the course of several hearings was able to convince the prosecuting attorneys for the State of Washington that even if Drake had committed a crime, he had already been punished enough and further punishment by the state would serve no purpose. The state agreed and eventually dismissed all charges against Drake.

*name has been changed


Possession of a Controlled Substance: Fruit of the Poisonous Tree

Mr. Jackson* was pulled over on Highway 16 in Kitsap County near Bremerton after another driver reported seeing a man in a white sports car pointing a gun at him.

Washington State trooper Austin stopped Jackson for a felony traffic violation and told him to get out of the car. Jackson was handcuffed and put into the back of the police car. The officer read Jackson his Miranda rights and then took him out of the patrol car to perform sobriety tests by the side of the road. Austin asked Jackson for permission to search the car and retrieve the gun. Jackson told the officer that the gun was located on the back seat of his car. After taking the gun from the back seat Austin went on to search the entire vehicle. He found several pills of MDMA, commonly referred to as “ecstasy,” in the center console of the vehicle, and told Jackson that in addition to DUI he was being charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, a felony crime with a two-year prison term.

Jackson retained Kannin Law Firm and attorney John Kannin to represent him. The prosecutor’s offer was to plead guilty as charged. The prosecutor maintained that this was an airtight case with no room for negotiation. Kannin challenged the state’s evidence and argued before the judge in Kitsap County Superior Court that the ecstasy could not be used as evidence to convict as it was obtained during an illegal search of Jackson’s vehicle. The judge agreed it was an illegal search and that the ecstasy pills were inadmissible under the legal doctrine of Fruit of the Poisonous Tree. He agreed that Austin’s search of the center console exceeded the scope of his authority to search, as the object of his initial search – the gun – had already been retrieved. The State was prohibited from using the pills as evidence. As a result they could no longer prove their case, and the defense moved to dismiss the case based on lack of evidence. The judge granted the defense motion and the case was dismissed.

*name has been changed


Vehicular Assault: Over the Limit But Not a Felony Crime:
State of Washington v. J.L.J., King County Superior Court, Seattle

Returning home one rainy night, the client’s van collided with a vehicle parked on the I-5 freeway Ship Canal Bridge, severely injuring another man who had stopped to help a disabled driver. When police arrived they found wrecked vehicles, broken bodies, and alcoholic beverage containers on the freeway. Instead of a breath test the Washington State trooper used a blood test to determine that the client’s driving was impaired by alcohol. Rather than charging him with a DUI, however, the man was charged with vehicular assault, a class B felony. This young man faced serious jail time and life as a convicted felon. Criminal defense lawyer John Kannin recognized that while his client may have been over the limit for our State’s implied consent law, he was not responsible for causing the injury accident, thus not guilty of vehicular assault. Nonetheless the State refused to accept a negotiated plea to DUI, a gross misdemeanor. After a contentious 14-day jury trial, the jury returned a verdict of Not Guilty to vehicular assault and agreed that the man’s only crime was DUI.


DUI: Turning the Tables on the Prosecution:
City of Seattle vs. G.B.

The prosecution presented an incriminating video showing a highly inebriated client being arrested in front of her house in Seattle. The defendant was charged with DUI and causing a motor vehicle accident. John Kannin was able to turn this allegedly incriminating evidence, in conjunction with the case timeline, to his client’s benefit. Mr. Kannin used the video as a defense tool to elicit sympathy from the jury and to show reasonable doubt as to the sequence of events. As a result, the jury returned with a not-guilty verdict.


DUI: Innovative Defense Theory:
City of Shoreline v. D.E.

During this DUI trial lawyer John Kannin presented a novel defense using an alternative theory of intoxication. Mr. Kannin argued that his client’s high BAC reading was due to intoxication by paint fumes rather than alcohol. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty.


Failure to Register as a Sex Offender: People Are More Than Paperwork:
State of Washington v. M.H., King County Superior Court, Seattle

The prosecution demanded that defendant M.H., a convicted sex offender, plead guilty to failure to register as a sex offender, a felony crime. Prosecuting attorney Todd Bergstrom claimed that the defendant falsified his registration paperwork, and that all the State needed to do was show the paperwork to the jury in order to secure a conviction. He paid no attention to the defendant’s claims that he had in fact listed the correct information on the registration documents and was telling the truth.

M.H. asserted his innocence, criminal defense lawyer John Kannin presented his case to the jury, and the State presented its paperwork. The jury returned a not guilty verdict, proving that people are more than paperwork.


Assault: Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad
City of Seattle v. M.B.M.

A jury trial in the Seattle Municipal Court, M.B.M. was charged with three counts of assault, each a gross misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $5,000.00 fine. The City of Seattle prosecution team refused to accept M.B.M.’s version of what happened at a local night spot here in Seattle. Criminal defense lawyer John Kannin presented his case to the jury. The judge stopped Mr. Kannin during his closing argument, telling him he was “taking too much time.” Argument on counts one and two got through, and the jury returned verdicts of not guilty on these two counts. The jury returned a verdict of guilty on the third count. Interestingly enough, the only count the defendant was convicted of was the one the judge would not allow Mr. Kannin to tell the jury about in his closing arguments.


Assault & Domestic Violence: Where Did the Love Go?
State of Washington vs. S.A.

The defendant was accused by his wife of assault domestic violence. She claimed he shoved and pushed her, verbally abusing her, and punched holes in the wall of their house. The State of Washington charged the man with malicious mischief in the third degree and assault in the fourth degree, domestic violence. S.A. claimed that he never intentionally committed these acts and pleaded not guilty on all counts. The State’s prosecuting attorney refused to believe Mr. S’s account of events, and the case went to a jury trial in Pierce County District Court.

During cross-examination of S.A.’s wife, Mr. Kannin was able to demonstrate to the jury that she was not in fact the victim in the case, but the aggressor, and had been armed with a metal cane at the time her husband allegedly assaulted her. Halfway through the trial, Mr. Kannin also moved for acquittal on Count One of malicious mischief, arguing that there was no evidence of significant damage to the walls of the house, and the prosecution had only guessed at the cost of repairs, thus failing to put on sufficient proof of this charge. The judge agreed and acquitted S.A. of the malicious mischief charge.

After Mr. Kannin’s defense had been presented, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty on the charge of domestic violence. His client was acquitted and grateful that he could get on with his life after facing the government’s challenging criminal accusations head on and winning!

For zealous and effective legal representation in your case, call Kannin Law Firm at 206-574-0202. Kannin Law Firm’s criminal defense attorneys have the experience and skills necessary to ensure the best possible outcome in your case, and the track record to prove it.


 

For more summaries, visit the personal injury and civil rights case summary pages on our website.