Washington Legal Defense
Free Consultation
The Future Of Firearm Enhancement Get 150+ Years of Combined Litigation Experience on Your Side
Hester Law Group

The Future of Firearm Enhancement

On May 20, 2003, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided United States v. Odom. Odom defines the term “use of a firearm” in an armed bank robbery prosecution pursuant to 18 USC § 2113(d). Mr. Odom, in the course of robbing a bank, inadvertently lifted his jacket where the bank manager saw a firearm tucked into his belt. After a bench trial the court convicted Mr. Odom of armed robbery because at the time of the event he was in possession of a loaded firearm. Mr. Odom contended that he should have been convicted of the lesser offense of unarmed bank robbery pursuant to 18 USD § 2113(a) because he did not “use” the firearm.

In a unanimous decision, the Court of Appeals agreed with Mr. Odom. In reversing Mr. Odom’s conviction, the court reviewed the federal statute to determine when the “armed” portion of the bank robbery statute was invoked. § 2113(d) provides as follows:

Whoever, in committing, or in attempting to commit, any offense defined in subsections (a) and (b) of this section, assaults any person, or puts in jeopardy the life of any person by the use of a dangerous weapon or device, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty-five years, or both.

18 USC § 2113(d) (emphasis added).

The court noted that because Mr. Odom did not “actively employ” the weapon to facilitate the bank robbery, he should have been convicted of the unarmed bank robbery which had a corresponding lesser sentence.

The Odom decision may be beneficial not only in federal court but also in state court. Deadly weapon enhancements are codified at RCW 9.94A.602, and, under Washington State Law, the enhancement applies when the accused is “armed” with a deadly weapon at the time of the commission of the crime. Case law interpreting the term “armed” allows that the deadly weapon must be “easily accessible and readily available for use, either for offensive or defensive purposes.” See State v. Schelin, 104 Wn.App. 48, 14 P.3d 893 (2000). Even though a weapon may be present during the commission of a crime, there must be some nexus between the defendant and the weapon before the enhancement applies. See State v. Johnson, 94 Wn.App. 882, 974 P.2d 855 (1999). The Court of Appeals considers “easily accessible” as a question of mixed law and fact that will differ depending on the case, but clearly, there needs to be some nexus between the weapon’s presence and the crime’s commission.

Generally, in assault or homicide cases where a weapon's enhancement is alleged, the statute contemplates the firing of the weapon as opposed to using the gun as a bludgeon. Under the teachings of Odom, using a firearm to strike a person, as opposed to shooting the individual, may provide persuasive authority as to why the enhancement doesn’t apply. As such, for both state and federal cases, Odom should prove helpful in assisting with the defense of firearm-related offenses and enhancements, and, thus, provide some relief to the substantial prison time that is imposed when a firearm is part of the offense charged.

Categories
  • Washington Association for Justice
  • The National Trial Lawyers Top 100
  • Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association
  • American Board of Trial Advocates
  • American Association for Justice
  • Washington State Bar Association
  • Avvo 10.0 Rating

Success Stories

  • If he said he was going to do something he did it. He has integrity.

    “Wayne Fricke is a terrific lawyer who knows the law. The following are only several of many ways Mr. Fricke supported me during my time of crisis: 1. Explained the charges against me in a manner that ...”

    - Former Client
  • He always exceeds expectations.

    “Mr. Fricke has been our family lawyer for about 5 years. He has done an amazing job representing my family and I. He always exceeds expectations and informs us on everything going on.”

    - Jen
  • He, at no time, treated me as though I was guilty.

    “I was accused of domestic violence and need a Lawyer to defend me. Not knowing who to hire I started with Mr. K.W. This lawyer did not seem to believe in my innocence and I was looking at 3 to 5 ...”

    - Craig
  • Mr. Fricke had his office call me weekly for updates.

    “A few years ago, I was involved in a car accident. Due to my injuries, I hired an attorney who seemingly disappeared. I was in crisis after calling the court and finding out my case had been dismissed ...”

    - Sharyl
  • He is always honest and straight forward.

    “I hired Lance Hester to help me with 2 different legal matters. One was a felony criminal case and the other was a family law issue. In the felony criminal case this individual had everything to lose ...”

    - Former Client
/

Proven Results

  • Reduced Sentence Drug Crime
  • Case Dismissed Domestic Violence
  • Four Felony Charges Dismissed Four Felony Counts
  • Reduced Sentence Drug Distribution
  • Vacated Conviction 4th Degree Assault
  • Case Dismissed Possession of Stolen Property
  • Two Restraining Orders Granted Anti-harassment Orders
  • Federal Court Success Federal Probation Violation
  • Case Dismissed Rape
  • Life Sentence Avoided Federal Criminal Sex Charges
/

Why Choose the Hester Law Group?

  • Accessible to Clients

    We understand the urgency clients have when they need an attorney. We are available  24/7 to help you.

  • We Truly Care

    We feel honored to help someone through the toughest time they will ever go through.

  • Personalized Approach

    At Hester Law Group, we use a personal approach that best suits the needs of our clients.

  • Unparalleled Experience

    We have been a successful team for two decades and have over 130 years of combined experience.

We're Available 24/7

Get Started on Your Defense Today
  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.