State of Washington Samuel David Obert Slater, 98795, May 20, 2021

Mr. Slater was accused of violating a domestic violence no contact order.  At trial call (the hearing in Snohomish that is similar to the trial readiness) the defendant failed to appear.  The Court issued a bench warrant and the defendant quashed the warrant a little over a month later.  The State added a charge of bail jump.  The defendant moved to sever the charge of bail jump from the charge of violating a domestic violence no contact order.  This means that the bail jump charge would be tried in a separate trial.  The Court denied the motion to sever the charges, the Court also denied defendant’s motion to prevent the prosecutor from arguing that his failure to appear was proof of guilt.

            Evidence of flight from which to infer a defendant’s consciousness of guilt has been admissible evidence since the English common law. See Hickory v. United States, 160 U.S. 408, 420, 16 S. Ct. 327, 40 L. Ed. 474 (1896).

Washington courts have opined that flight evidence is admissible as evidence of consciousness of guilt in other cases. Examples include cases in which the defendant flees the scene of the crime, escapes police contact, travels to a different state, or evades arrest for a significant period of time, among others. See, e.g.State v. Wilson, 26 Wn.2d 468, 174 P.2d 553 (1946). 

            The Supreme Court of Washington found that missing one court hearing does not rise to the level of flight evidence from which one can infer consciousness of guilt on the underlying crime.  The Court found that the judges abused their discretion when they rejected the defendant’s motion to sever the charges because the charges are not cross admissible.  The court found it was improper for the State to comment on the defendant’s alleged guilt and propensity to violate court orders.

The Washington Supreme Court held: We hold that evidence of a single FTA (Failure to Appear) accompanied by a prompt motion to quash the issued warrant is not sufficient evidence of flight and, therefore, cannot be used as evidence from which to infer consciousness.  The Courts opinion can be found here: https://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/pdf/987955.pdf  The Court of appeals opinion can be found here: https://law.justia.com/cases/washington/court-of-appeals-division-i/2020/79335-7.html

            Mr. Slater was accused of violating a domestic violence no contact order.  At trial call (the hearing in Snohomish that is similar to the trial readiness) the defendant failed to appear.  The Court issued a bench warrant and the defendant quashed the warrant a little over a month later.  The State added a charge of bail jump.  The defendant moved to sever the charge of bail jump from the charge of violating a domestic violence no contact order.  This means that the bail jump charge would be tried in a separate trial.  The Court denied the motion to sever the charges, the Court also denied defendant’s motion to prevent the prosecutor from arguing that his failure to appear was proof of guilt.

            Evidence of flight from which to infer a defendant’s consciousness of guilt has been admissible evidence since the English common law. See Hickory v. United States, 160 U.S. 408, 420, 16 S. Ct. 327, 40 L. Ed. 474 (1896).

Washington courts have opined that flight evidence is admissible as evidence of consciousness of guilt in other cases. Examples include cases in which the defendant flees the scene of the crime, escapes police contact, travels to a different state, or evades arrest for a significant period of time, among others. See, e.g.State v. Wilson, 26 Wn.2d 468, 174 P.2d 553 (1946). 

            The Supreme Court of Washington found that missing one court hearing does not rise to the level of flight evidence from which one can infer consciousness of guilt on the underlying crime.  The Court found that the judges abused their discretion when they rejected the defendant’s motion to sever the charges because the charges are not cross admissible.  The court found it was improper for the State to comment on the defendant’s alleged guilt and propensity to violate court orders.

The Washington Supreme Court held: We hold that evidence of a single FTA (Failure to Appear) accompanied by a prompt motion to quash the issued warrant is not sufficient evidence of flight and, therefore, cannot be used as evidence from which to infer consciousness.  The Courts opinion can be found here: https://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/pdf/987955.pdf  The Court of appeals opinion can be found here: https://law.justia.com/cases/washington/court-of-appeals-division-i/2020/79335-7.html