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Seattle Man’s Assault Conviction Upheld Despite Victim Remaining Unidentified

On Behalf of | Jan 22, 2016 | Assault

In an unpublished case, a man was involved in an altercation outside of a Seattle night club.   The man allegedly pulled a gun on a group of people and fired several rounds into the group in front of two nearby police detectives. After the man fired his weapon, the detectives attempted to apprehend him. According to the law enforcement officers, the man ran toward them and pointed his gun at one of the detectives. In response, one of the police officers fired his weapon at the man. Ultimately, the man was shot and taken into custody by the detectives.

Following the altercation with Seattle police, several spent bullet casings were recovered from the area where the man was apprehended. In addition, security camera footage from a nearby business showed the man running from police, hiding in nearby bushes and exchanging fire with the detectives.

After he was arrested, the man was charged with four counts of first degree assault while armed with a gun. In each count, the man was accused of intending to inflict serious bodily harm. Although three of the charges were related to the man’s purported gunfire exchange with police, another accused him of assaulting an unnamed person in the group with which the man initially engaged in an altercation. The defendant waived his right to a trial before a jury of his peers before being convicted on all four assault charges. The defendant was then sentenced in accordance with the legal standards put forth by the State of Washington.

On appeal to the Court of Appeals of Washington, District One, the defendant claimed his assault conviction with regard to the unidentified person should be overturned. According to the defendant, the prosecution failed to demonstrate each element of his purported crime against the unnamed individual beyond a reasonable doubt since it was unclear who he allegedly intended to assault. In addition, the defendant claimed the conviction violated his due process right to a unanimous verdict and caused him to be subjected to double jeopardy.

The appellate court disagreed, however, and found that the trial court committed no error. After examining the criminal statute at issue, the court stated that Washington law does not require that an assault victim be identified. Next, the Court of Appeals said the defendant’s constitutional rights with regard to double jeopardy were not implicated in the case. The appellate court then ruled that the man’s due process rights were not violated because he voluntarily waived his right to a jury trial. Finally, the court stated there was sufficient evidence included in the trial record to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant assaulted the police detectives.

Ultimately, the Court of Appeals of Washington, District One affirmed the defendant’s assault conviction.

If you were charged with assault or another criminal act in the State of Washington, you should contact a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney in the Seattle-Tacoma area as soon as possible. To discuss your rights with a dedicated criminal lawyer, please call the Law Offices of Smith & White at 253-363-8662 in Tacoma. You may also contact the skilled advocates at the Law Offices of Smith & White through our website.