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State v. Clark

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 1

July 31, 2017

STATE OF WASHINGTON, Respondent,
v.
MICHAEL ALLEN CLARK, Appellant.

          TRICKEY, A.C.J.

         Michael Clark appeals his convictions for unlawful possession of a firearm in the second degree. He argues that there was insufficient evidence that he was subject to the type of court order that would make his possession of firearms unlawful. Specifically, he argues that the protective order he was subject to did not meet the statutory requirement of explicitly prohibiting him from using physical force.

         We disagree. An order does not need to quote the language of the statute to be explicit. Clark's order clearly prohibited the use of physical force. We affirm.

         FACTS

         In June 2015, Brittany Codomo petitioned the superior court for a domestic violence protection order against Clark. The court issued a temporary order, which required Clark to surrender any firearms he possessed. In July, the court issued a permanent order for protection (the Order) and an order to surrender weapons.

         In September, a detective from the King County Sheriffs Office obtained a warrant to search a storage area that Clark had rented. Inside, the detective found several firearms, including two pistols registered to Clark.

         The State charged Clark with two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm in the second degree. Clark waived his right to a jury trial and submitted the case on the basis of a stipulated record. The court found Clark guilty.

         Clark appeals.

         ANALYSIS

         Sufficiency

         Clark argues there is insufficient evidence that he was subject to a court order that made his possession of firearms illegal because the Order did not explicitly prohibit the use of force. The State responds that the Order did not need to use the exact language of the statute for the prohibition to be explicit. We agree with the State.

         The State must prove all elements of a charged crime beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Larson, 184 Wn.2d 843, 854, 365 P.3d 740 (2015). When reviewing a claim of insufficiency, we assume the truth of all the State's evidence and draw all inferences in the light most favorable to the State. State v. Salinas, 119 Wn.2d 192, 201, 829 P.2d 1068 (1992). We then decide whether "any rational trier of fact could have found guilt beyond a reasonable doubt." Salinas, 119 Wn.2d at 201.

         Here, Clark was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm. It is illegal to possess a firearm while subject to certain domestic violence protection orders. RCW 9.41.040(2)(a). To make the possession of a firearm illegal, the underlying protective order must, "[b]y its terms, explicitly prohibit[] the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the intimate partner or child that would reasonably be expected to cause bodily injury." RCW 9.41.040(2)(a)(ii)(C)(II).[1]

         Clark stipulated to the admission of the Order and does not dispute that he was subject to it. Therefore, the only question before us is whether the Order satisfies the statutory requirements. Clark argues that the Order does not because it does not explicitly mention physical force. Clark's argument depends on the definition of "explicitly." Therefore, it is a question of statutory interpretation, which this court reviews ...


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