In Washington criminal matters, the prosecution bears the burden of proving the defendant’s guilt. Specifically, the State must produce sufficient evidence to demonstrate, beyond a reasonable doubt, each element of the charged offense. If it cannot, the defendant should be deemed not guilty. Recently, a Washington court discussed what evidence is needed to prove a defendant committed an assault offense in a case in which the State charged the defendant with more than forty crimes. If you are accused of assault, it is in your best interest to speak to a Washington assault defense attorney to assess your options for seeking a just outcome.
The Facts of the Case
It is reported that the defendant and the victim began dating in March 2016. Shortly after they began dating, the defendant advised the victim that he would leave his girlfriend if the victim would prostitute herself for money. The victim began posting prostitution ads and going on prostitution calls and gave the money she earned to the defendant.
Allegedly, after the victim became a prostitute, the defendant began to hit, cut, burn, and sexually abuse her. He threatened to kill her if she did not do as he directed or attempted to leave him. In January 2018, the State charged the defendant with 45 separate criminal offenses, including second-degree assault. He was convicted on over forty counts, including the assault charges, and he appealed, arguing the State lacked sufficient evidence to prove his guilt.
Evidence Needed to Establish Guilt in an Assault Case
Under Washington law, a person who knowingly inflicts bodily injury that is designed to cause agony or pain that is equal to that caused by torture is guilty of assault in the second degree. Thus, in the subject case, the State needed to prove that the defendant knowingly caused the victim to suffer bodily injuries that caused such agony or pain that it was equivalent to that brought about by torture.
The court explained that the evidence viewed in a light most favorable to the State showed that the defendant struck the victim so hard that she fell to the floor, and when she was on the floor, proceeded to punch her and dump containers of urine on her head. Thus, the court found that the evidence was sufficient for a rational trier of fact to find beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed second-degree assault. As such, it affirmed his conviction.
Speak to a Trusted Washington Criminal Defense Lawyer
Simply because the State charges a person with assault does not mean it will be able to obtain a conviction, as in many cases, the State will lack sufficient evidence to establish a defendant’s guilt. If you are charged with an assault crime, you could face significant penalties, and you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. The trusted Washington criminal defense attorneys of The Law Offices of Smith & White are adept at defending people charged with assault offenses, and if you hire us, we will work tirelessly to help you pursue a favorable result. You can contact us via the online form or at 253-363-8662 to schedule a conference.