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  4.  – Washington Court Discusses Proving the Use of Force Was Lawful in Assault Matters

Washington Court Discusses Proving the Use of Force Was Lawful in Assault Matters

On Behalf of | Mar 31, 2023 | Assault and Self Defense

In Tacoma, Washington assault cases, defendants do not have to offer a defense or otherwise establish that they did not commit the charged offense. In many instances, though, a defendant will argue that the actions out of which their charges arose were taken in self-defense and, therefore, were lawful. If the State disproves a defendant’s self-defense argument beyond a reasonable doubt, however, the defendant may be found guilty. Recently, in the Court of Appeals in Tacoma, Washington, the court discussed what evidence is needed to demonstrate that the use of force was lawful in a matter in which it affirmed a juvenile’s adjudication of guilt for assault. If you are charged with an assault offense, it is advisable to meet with a Tacoma assault crime defense attorney to evaluate your options.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant and the victim were both high school students. The defendant was approximately 200 pounds lighter than the victim, but both appeared to be in reasonably fit condition. They had a verbal altercation, during which the defendant called the victim a gay slur, and the victim stated he was gay.

Reportedly, they had a second encounter later in the day that escalated into a physical altercation. The victim approached the defendant and slapped him on the arm, after which the two fell to the ground. The victim was striking the defendant when the defendant pulled a knife out of his pocket and stabbed the victim repeatedly. The defendant was charged with assault in the first degree. During the trial, he argued he acted in self-defense. The judge rejected the defense and found him guilty of assault in the second degree, and he appealed.

Proving the Use of Force Was Lawful

Under Washington law, a person commits assault in the second degree if they assault another person with a deadly weapon. Self-defense is available as an affirmative defense to assault in the second degree. The court explained that pursuant to Washington law, the use of force is lawful when it is used by a person about to be hurt to prevent an offense against them, and no greater force than is necessary is used.

The court elaborated that the term necessary means that there was no reasonably effective alternative to the use of force at the time, and the amount of force employed was reasonable to effect to purpose intended. In the subject case, the court noted that the defendant seemed to concede that he used deadly force against the victim. Thus, as he failed to prove that he believed his life was in jeopardy, the amount of force used was not reasonable, and the judge properly rejected his assertion he acted in self-defense.

Speak with a Capable Tacoma Attorney

Actions that may constitute grounds for charging a person with an assault crime might be lawful if they were taken in self-defense. If you are accused of assault, it will benefit you to speak to an attorney about your possible defenses. The capable Tacoma criminal defense lawyers of The Law Offices of Smith & White have the knowledge and resources needed to help you pursue a favorable verdict, and if you hire us, we will zealously pursue the best result possible under the facts of your case. You can contact us via our form online or by calling us at 253-363-8662 to set up a meeting.