Articles Posted in Assault

In Washington, a unanimous verdict is required to convict a defendant of assault. Thus, if less than all of the jurors agree as to whether a defendant committed the crime of assault, the defendant cannot be convicted. Although unanimity is required for a conviction, in cases where the defendant is charged with an alternative means crime, a unanimous finding as to the manner in which the crime was committed is not required to uphold a conviction. This was elucidated in a recent Washington appellate court case, in which the court affirmed the defendant’s conviction for assault in the second degree despite no unanimous finding as to how the assault was committed. If you live in Washington and are facing assault charges it is critical to confer with a trusted Washington assault defense attorney to discuss the facts of your case and what evidence the State may use against you.

Facts Regarding the Alleged Assault

Reportedly, the police met with the defendant’s wife who had bruises, black eyes, a disfigured nose, and a cauliflower ear. The defendant was subsequently charged with two counts of assault in the second degree, which is an alternative means crime, to which he pleaded not guilty. During the trial, numerous witnesses testified regarding the defendant’s alleged assault of his wife on several occasions, including the wife, the child of the defendant and his wife, and the wife’s treating physicians. The defendant was ultimately convicted of both charges. The defendant appealed, arguing that he was deprived of his right to a unanimous jury verdict because there was insufficient evidence of each of the charged means of committing assault in the second degree.

Jury Unanimity

Assault in the second degree is an alternative means crime, which means that although the statute defining the crime sets forth a single criminal offense, it delineates seven subsections as to how the offense may be committed. In the subject case, the defendant was charged with assault in the second degree committed by three alternative means. The defendant argued that the jury was required to agree unanimously as to the means used to commit the crime to support a conviction.
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Criminal defendants are afforded the right to a meaningful defense by both the Washington and United States Constitutions. This means, in part, that a criminal defendant has the right to confront any witnesses who testify in support of the State’s position. If a criminal defendant is not afforded the right to a meaningful defense, it can be grounds for seeking a reversal of any conviction obtained by the State, as illustrated in a case recently decided by the Washington Court of Appeals. In that case, the court reversed the defendant’s conviction, due to the fact that the defendant was convicted of assault without being permitted to question witnesses regarding facts surrounding the alleged assault. If you are a Washington resident charged with assault you should speak with a capable Washington assault defense attorney to discuss your rights under the law.

The Alleged Assault

Reportedly, the defendant’s assault charges arose out of an altercation with the victim. The victim drove the defendant to the hospital due to an eye injury. When the defendant was discharged, he discovered the victim had left. The defendant had no money or cell phone, so he sold his watch to pay for a taxi to drive him home. He subsequently went to the victim’s house and demanded money from him, arguing that the victim’s abandonment forced him to sell his watch. The victim refused to pay, after which the defendant left.

Allegedly, a few days later the defendant returned to the victim’s house with a friend. What transpired at the victim’s house is disputed between the parties. It was conceded that the defendant and the victim engaged in an altercation, but it was disputed whether the victim had a knife during the altercation. When the friend was examined by the State’s attorney regarding what happened, he testified he believed the victim had a knife. He admitted he had previously told the police he did not think the victim was armed, however, and that he never saw the victim with a knife. When he was cross-examined by defense counsel regarding the inconsistencies in his account, the State’s attorney objected to the line of questioning and the court sustained the objection, halting any further testimony on the matter. Further, during closing arguments, the State stated multiple times that the friend testified that the victim did not have a weapon. The defendant was convicted of his charges, after which he appealed.
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In an effort to provide consistency between penalties imposed on criminal defendants throughout the state, the Washington legislature has set forth criminal sentencing guidelines. The guidelines set forth the mandatory minimum sentence and the maximum sentence that can be imposed for a crime. Some crimes, such as assault, have degrees ranging from a misdemeanor to a felony, with separate sentences for each degree of the crime. If a defendant is convicted of a crime and the penalty imposed exceeds the penalty allowed by law, it may constitute grounds for a reversal of a sentence.

This was shown in a recent assault case, in which a Washington appellate court reversed a sentence following the defendant’s conviction, due to the fact that the combined terms of confinement and community custody to which the defendant was sentenced exceeded the maximum sentence permitted. If you are a Washington resident and are charged with assault or another violent crime you should meet with an experienced Washington criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss the circumstances surrounding your charges and your possible defenses.

Allegedly, the defendant was at his home when three sheriff deputies arrived to serve arrest warrants on the defendant. The deputies entered the defendant’s home and found the defendant inside of a bathroom in one of the bedrooms. The deputies advised the defendant that they had warrants for his arrest and told him to exit the bathroom. One of the deputies then grabbed the defendant’s arm and told the defendant he was under arrest. The defendant began to struggle and yell at the deputies. The defendant then began to throw punches at one of the deputies, after which the other two deputies physically restrained the defendant. The defendant broke free and ripped a towel rack off of the wall and began swinging it at the deputies.

It is common knowledge that criminal defendants are afforded the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Each criminal charge has different elements that the state must prove in order to convict a defendant. If a defendant is convicted absent sufficient evidence, he or she may be able to have the conviction overturned.

Recently, a Washington appellate court reviewed the evidence needed to convict a defendant of assault with a deadly weapon, in State v. Solorazano. If you are charged with a crime, it is important to retain a Washington criminal defense attorney who will fight vigorously to help you retain your liberties.

Factual Allegations

Reportedly, police responded to reports of a domestic dispute at a mobile home. When they arrived, the police placed the defendant into custody. They spoke with his girlfriend, the alleged victim and her daughter, both of whom were panicked and scared. The police found a knife that had a seven inch blade, that they believed the defendant used in the altercation. Neither the girlfriend nor her daughter had any injuries. The defendant was charged with second-degree assault with a deadly weapon. During the trial, the State played the 911 call from the alleged incident, in which the defendant’s girlfriend’s daughter could be heard stating that the defendant had a knife and had placed his girlfriend in a headlock. The defendant was convicted as charged, after which he appealed.

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A person does not lose their liberties simply because he or she is charged with a crime. Rather, under both state and federal law, criminal defendants are afforded with certain rights and protections, including the right to a speedy trial.

The Court of Appeals of Washington recently analyzed what constitutes a violation of the right to a speedy trial, in State v. Holcomb, a case where the defendant’s trial was delayed on several occasions. If you currently facing criminal charges, you should retain an experienced Washington criminal defense attorney to assist you in protecting your rights.

Factual Background

The defendant was charged with first and second-degree assault, both with firearm enhancements, violating a no-contact order, and tampering with a witness. He was subsequently tried and convicted of all charges. He then appealed, alleging in part, that the trial court violated the time for trial rule and his right to a speedy trial. On appeal, the court affirmed.

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In many criminal cases, whether a defendant is convicted of a greater or lesser offense depends on the state’s evidence against the defendant. As such, if you are charged with a crime, it is important to know what evidence the state intends to introduce against you and seek to exclude any prohibited evidence that may negatively affect your case.

In Washington v. Heyer, the Court of Appeals of the State of Washington affirmed a defendant’s conviction for third-degree assault, finding that testimony of a treating physician was not necessary to lay a foundation for a victim’s medical records to be admitted into evidence at trial. If you face assault charges, you should retain a skilled Washington criminal defense attorney to analyze the facts of your case and assist you in formulating a defense.

Factual Background

Allegedly, the defendant was at a car auction, where he bid on the same car as his victim. After the defendant won the car, the victim stated the defendant could use his commissary money to pay for the car, referring to the defendant’s prior imprisonment. In response, the defendant punched the victim in the face one or two times. The defendant was charged with second-degree assault. He waived his right to a jury and proceeded to a bench trial. During the trial the victim testified his nose would not stop bleeding following the assault and he was referred to a specialist due to a fracture. The defendant’s counsel objected to this testimony on the grounds that it was hearsay.

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Domestic violence no-contact orders are required to provide sufficient information to give notice to the party prohibited from contact of the terms of the prohibition. No-contact orders are not required to be exact, however, and a defendant can be convicted of violating an order even if some of the information is inaccurate.

For example, in State of Washington v. Michael Dwayne Harris, the Court of Appeals of the State of Washington upheld a conviction for violation of a no-contact order where the victim’s race was improperly identified, finding the order nonetheless provided sufficient notice to the defendant regarding who he was prohibited from contacting. If you are charged with a violation of a no-contact order, you should seek the assistance of an experienced Washington domestic violence defense attorney to assess what evidence the state may use against you.

Alleged Violation of the No-Contact Order

Allegedly, the defendant was prohibited from contacting a woman identified as his intimate partner via a domestic violence no-contact order (the Order). The Order also set forth the date of the woman’s birth and identified her as African-American. Four years after the order was issued, the defendant’s wife called the police to report the defendant assaulted her. The defendant was arrested, after which he admitted to being at his wife’s home but stated that she assaulted him. He also admitted there was a no-contact order that barred him from contacting his wife but he believed it had expired. The police then confirmed that the birthdate of the party protected by the Order was the same as the defendant’s wife’s birthdate. The defendant was charged with violating the Order.

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Under Washington law, evidence that a victim’s account of an alleged assault has remained consistent is inadmissible to corroborate the victim’s testimony. As outlined in Washington v. Kleinsmith, however, a failure to make a timely objection to inadmissible testimony will result in a waiver of the objection. In Kleinsmith, the Court of Appeals of the State of Washington upheld the defendant’s conviction for second-degree assault regardless of the fact the prosecutor introduced inadmissible testimony regarding the victim’s credibility, due to the defendant’s counsel’s failure to make a timely objection to the testimony. If you are charged with assault, it is essential to your defense to retain an experienced Washington assault defense attorney who will fight to have any inadmissible testimony precluded from evidence.

Facts of the Case

Reportedly, the defendant and her alleged victim were neighbors in an apartment building. The victim heard someone sag to “get out” as she walked past the defendant’s apartment, and when she turned around, she saw a woman with a butcher knife. The victim further alleged the woman began to chase her and screamed, “don’t come back.” The victim reported the incident to an employee in the building’s front office, who called the police.  The victim described her assailant as a blonde woman wearing a t-shirt and shorts. When the police arrived, the building employee advised them that the defendant matched the physical description of the assailant.

Allegedly, the police repeatedly knocked on the defendant’s door, but she would not answer. The police eventually opened the defendant’s apartment with a key. When they entered the apartment, the defendant came from the back of the apartment and advised she was sleeping. The defendant was arrested and informed of her Miranda rights, after which she requested an attorney. She asked the officers to retrieve items from her apartment, and one of the officers noticed a large knife by the kitchen sink. As the defendant was escorted from the building, the victim advised the officers she was “one hundred percent” sure that the defendant was her assailant. The defendant did not testify at the trial. The building employee and arresting officer both testified and stated the victim’s story remained consistent. The defendant was convicted of assault in the second degree, after which she appealed.

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Under Washington law, self-defense is a valid defense to an assault charge. If a jury is not properly instructed on the law regarding self-defense, however, a defendant may be improperly convicted. In Washington v. Backemeyer, the Court of Appeals of the State of Washington overturned the Defendant’s conviction for assault and granted him a new trial after finding the defense counsel performed deficiently in failing to ensure the jury received a proper self-defense instruction, which was prejudicial to the Defendant. If you face assault charges, it is essential to your case to retain an attorney who is well-versed in the defenses to the crime you are charged with and can adequately convey the defenses to the jury. You should consult a seasoned Washington assault defense attorney to discuss your options.

Facts of the Case

Allegedly, in Backemeyer, the Defendant was in a bar when he was asked to leave by an individual who identified himself as a bouncer. The Defendant told the bouncer to leave him alone and began pushing the bouncer, after which the bouncer pushed the Defendant to the floor and got on top of him. The Defendant, who was significantly smaller than the bouncer, pulled out a knife and began cutting the bouncer. The Defendant was subsequently charged with first-degree assault with a deadly weapon. During the trial, the Defendant testified he was afraid of being seriously injured and was acting in self-defense, and that he did not know the bouncer was a bar employee.


In criminal cases in Washington, there are several elements against which you must defend if you’re accused of a crime. One of these is the imposition of a legal financial obligation (LFO) or monetary cost. In order to be obligated to pay, however, the court must provide a statute that specifically authorizes the LFO. In one man’s assault case, the Washington Court of Appeals decided that his LFO was improper because he did not commit any of the underlying crimes listed by the statute as requirements.

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