Appeals Court Overturns Conviction in Wire Theft Case

In 2014, Chad Colton Bass was convicted in Lewis County in Washington State on charges of first-degree trafficking in stolen property, second-degree burglary, and third-degree theft in connection with the stripping of recyclable metals from a power pole in Centralia.

At trial, Bass testified that he believed the former owner of the home where the power pole was located had given permission for him to cut the wire from the pole; he maintained that he was not aware the residence was bank owned following foreclosure proceedings. An employee with the city of Centralia discovered the cut wire, and matched the cut end with wire sold at a metal recycler.

While his convictions for the second-degree burglary and third-degree theft charges were upheld, the Washington State Court of Appeals overturned the first-degree trafficking in stolen property conviction, ordering a new trial after finding the trial court refused to allow the jury in the case to consider second-degree trafficking in stolen property, a lesser charge. Appeals court judge Bradley A. Maxa wrote in his decision that in refusing to provide the jury with instructions regarding second-degree trafficking in stolen property, the trial court erred. The appeals court reversed the first-degree conviction and is now remanding the case back to court for a new trial.

Bass maintained in his appeal that the evidence the state had was insufficient to convict him on all three charges, however the appeals court did not agree on this argument.

The criminal penalties for this offense in Washington State include up to ten years in prison for those found guilty of first-degree trafficking stolen property; for second-degree trafficking stolen property, the maximum prison term is five years in prison.

Michigan criminal appeal attorneys know that appealing a conviction is challenging, however there are many cases in which a person who has been wrongly convicted may have the conviction overturned. Depending on the specific charge and details of the case, an appeals court may throw out a conviction altogether, or send the defendant back to court to have the case re-tried. Ultimately, appealing a conviction may result in freedom, or sentencing that is less harsh if the defendant is found guilty after going to trial again on lesser charges.

The appeals process is highly complex; anyone who is considering an appeal in Lansing, Detroit, or surrounding areas should work with a highly skilled and capable Michigan defense lawyer who is thoroughly familiar with and experienced in the criminal appeals process.

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