March 25 Shelter in Place—Distance sharing is caring. So Zoom video conference to continue with your essential legal services while keeping you, your family and your community safe. Smith & White is open as an essential service because courts remain open to address safety issues. So contact us in the secure manner you think best.

Articles Posted in Assault

As most people are aware, criminal defendants cannot be compelled to make incriminating statements and must be advised of their rights via a Miranda warning prior to any custodial interrogations. As such, any incriminating statement made by a person during a line of questioning that occurs prior to a Miranda warning may be precluded from evidence. Additionally, as discussed in a recent assault case, if a party makes an incriminating statement following such warnings, it may be inadmissible if the line of questioning as a whole constitutes a two-step interrogation. If you are charged with assault, it is wise to speak to a zealous Washington assault defense attorney to determine what arguments you may be able to set forth in your defense.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant and his victim lived in an RV together. A passerby alerted the police to an altercation outside of the RV, which prompted the police to report to the scene. When they arrived, they asked the defendant what happened, and he responded that he was trying to fix things between him and the victim. He further stated that he had not choked the victim, he was just trying to get her to talk to him. The defendant was given a Miranda warning, after which he was questioned.

Allegedly, he again denied choking or hitting the victim but stated that he placed his hands on her shoulders. The defendant was charged with assault with domestic violence allegations. Prior to trial, he filed a motion to preclude the statements he made to the police during the investigation. The court denied his motion, and he was convicted, after which he appealed.

Continue reading

Although all citizens of Washington are expected to comply with the law, regardless of their maturity, the law presumes that children under a certain age lack the capacity to commit a crime. Thus, if a defendant charged with a criminal offense is under the age of twelve, the State must prove that the person understood the act he or she committed and knew that it was wrong. What constitutes evidence sufficient to overcome the presumption was discussed in a recent Washington assault case in which the court found the State failed to meet its burden of proof and reversed the defendant’s conviction. If you or your child are charged with assault, it is critical to retain a seasoned Washington assault defense attorney to assist you in fighting to protect your rights.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant, who was eleven years old, was confined to a juvenile detention center after she was charged with assaulting her grandmother, who was her legal guardian. While she was at the center, she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and attention deficit hyperactive disorder, stemming from her troubled and traumatic childhood when she lived with her parents who suffered from mental illness and drug addiction.

Allegedly, while the defendant was at the detention center, she was charged with custodial assault. Before the trial on the custodial assault charge, the court held a capacity hearing and ultimately found that the defendant possessed the ability to commit the charged offense. The defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court incorrectly understood the law regarding juvenile capacity and therefore applied the wrong standard.

Continue reading

It is well-established under state and federal law that a person accused of a crime cannot be compelled to make incriminating statements. In some instances, though, a criminal defendant may be coerced into making a statement that can be used against them, due to a lack of awareness regarding his or her rights. In a recent Washington case in which the defendant was accused of domestic violence assault with a firearm, the court discussed when an incriminating statement should be suppressed as an involuntary admission. If you live in Washington and are accused of committing a weapons offense, it is advisable to confer with a skilled Washington gun crime defense attorney to discuss what evidence the State may be permitted to use against you.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant and another woman were both romantically involved with the victim, but unaware of the existence of one another. They both became pregnant, after which the defendant broke up with the victim. The other woman learned that the defendant was also expecting the victim’s child, and reached out to the defendant. The two women then confronted the victim, and the victim testified that the defendant shot him in the leg.

Allegedly, the defendant was arrested three weeks later and transported to jail. She was advised of her Miranda rights and right to counsel, after which she stated she wished to make a statement. She was reminded of her right against self-incrimination and right to counsel but nonetheless admitted to participating in the shooting. She was then charged with first-degree assault with a firearm. She was convicted by a jury, after which she appealed, alleging in part that the statement she made in jail was coerced.

Continue reading

Often when a person is charged with assault, the evidence the State presents against the defendant is purely circumstantial. Thus, in many cases, there is insufficient evidence for the State to obtain a conviction. In some cases, the State will introduce evidence of substantial bodily harm to support the allegations a defendant committed assault. Recently, a Washington court discussed what constitutes sufficient evidence of substantial bodily harm in a case in which the defendant was convicted of second-degree assault of her minor son. If you are a Washington resident currently faced with assault charges, it is critical to retain a practiced Washington assault defense attorney to assist you in mounting a strong defense.

Facts Regarding the Alleged Assault

It is reported that prior to dropping the victim off at daycare, the defendant called the daycare to report that the victim had a bruise on his face due to an accident. Upon examination of the victim, the daycare noticed the victim had substantial bruising on his face and neck. As such, the daycare called the police, who began an investigation into the defendant. The defendant was ultimately charged with assault in the second degree of a child and was convicted following a trial. She then appealed, arguing, among other things, that there was insufficient evidence to support her conviction. Upon review, the appellate court affirmed her conviction.

Evidence of Substantial Bodily Harm

Under Washington law, a person will be found guilty of assault in the second degree of a child if the person is over eighteen years old, and the victim is under thirteen years old. There are numerous ways the State can prove assault in the second degree, one of which is through showing that a defendant intentionally assaulted another person, thereby recklessly causing substantial bodily harm. In turn, substantial bodily harm is defined under Washington law as a bodily injury that involves a disfigurement that is temporary but significant, a fracture, or temporary impairment or loss of bodily function.

Continue reading

In some cases in which a defendant is sentenced to imprisonment, he or she may be able to obtain a reduced sentence or compassionate release. There are strict parameters that define when a compassionate release is appropriate, and a court will not grant a defendant compassionate release unless the defendant demonstrates that one of the limited circumstances applies. Recently, a Washington court assessed whether the COVID-19 pandemic warrants sufficient grounds for a defendant serving a sentence for assault to obtain compassionate release, ultimately determining that it did not. If you live in Washington and are accused of committing assault, it is advisable to speak to a skillful Washington assault defense attorney to discuss your options.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was serving a prison term of twenty months for assaulting a police officer. The defendant, who was 23-years-old, suffered from a heart murmur and filed an emergency motion for compassionate release, arguing that it was warranted due to the threat that he would become infected with COVID-19 while imprisoned. After reviewing the facts and relevant law, the court denied the defendant’s motion.

Grounds for Compassionate Release

Generally, a conviction that includes a sentence of imprisonment is a final judgment that may not be modified by a district court, with limited exceptions. For example, under the compassionate release statute, a defendant may only seek a reduction in a sentence when he or she establishes that he or she has met the statutory exhaustion requirements, a compelling and extraordinary reason supports the defendant’s motion, and the reduction sought is consistent with the policy statement, which sets forth the criteria for determining if a compelling reason for a sentence reduction exists.

Continue reading

It is a well-established rule of law in Washington that the State cannot introduce evidence of a defendant’s prior bad behavior to establish that the defendant committed the crime for which he or she is currently charged. While evidence of prior bad actions cannot be used to prove guilt, it is admissible for other reasons. This was discussed in a recent domestic violence case decided by a Washington appellate court, in which the defendant argued that the trial court erred in admitting evidence of verbal abuse. If you are faced with domestic violence charges, it is in your best interest to retain a skilled Tacoma domestic violence attorney to assist you in formulating a defense.

Facts of the Case

Allegedly, the defendant became romantically involved with the victim, and shortly thereafter moved into her home with his five-year-old son. The victim alleged that the defendant punched her in the face multiple times, after which she advised him that she no longer felt safe and wanted to end the relationship. In response, the defendant kicked her in the head and punched her in the face, causing her face to split open. The victim was then afraid to leave her home due to an implied threat from the defendant. She was also worried that if she left, the defendant would harm his son. She eventually called 911, which resulted in the defendant’s arrest. He was ultimately charged with second-degree assault, fourth-degree assault, and unlawful imprisonment. He was convicted of second-degree assault and appealed on numerous grounds, including the assertion that the trial court erred in allowing the State to admit prior bad act evidence.

Evidence of Prior Bad Acts

Under Washington law, the State is prohibited from introducing evidence of prior bad acts to demonstrate that the defendant had the propensity or character to commit crimes. Evidence of prior bad acts may be introduced for other purposes, however. For evidence of prior bad acts to be admitted for other purposes, the court must find that misconduct occurred, and assess the purpose for admitting the evidence, and whether the evidence is pertinent to an element of the current crime. The court must also find that the evidence’s probative value outweighs its prejudicial effect.

Continue reading

It is a common misconception that assault involves actual bodily harm. Under Washington law, however, there are multiple acts that constitute assault, most of which do not require proof of physical contact. Thus, a defendant may be convicted of assault even if he or she never touches the alleged victim, as shown in a recent Washington appellate court case, in which the court affirmed the defendant’s assault conviction. If you are charged with an assault offense in Washington, it is crucial to speak with a trusted Tacoma assault defense attorney to discuss your options for seeking a successful outcome.

Facts Surrounding the Alleged Assault

It is alleged the defendant and his wife, who were married for eleven years, got into an argument. The wife left their home and began running away, after which the defendant got into his car and drove next to her. The wife eventually went behind construction barriers to avoid the defendant, after which the defendant struck the barriers with his car. The wife testified that she did not believe the defendant was trying to run her over, but she was scared and was asking for help. The defendant was charged with numerous crimes, including first and second-degree assault. He was found guilty of the second-degree assault charge, after which he appealed, arguing the State did not present sufficient evidence to obtain a conviction.

Proving Assault Under Washington Law

Under Washington law, a person commits second-degree assault by intentionally assaulting another person, inflicting serious bodily harm. Further, there are three definitions of assault in Washington: unlawful touching, an attempt to place a person in fear of harm, or an attempt to inflict bodily injury on another person. When an assault charge arises out of an attempt to harm another person or place a person in fear of harm, the State must establish that the defendant acted with specific intent. In other words, the State must show that the defendant acted with the intention of bringing about a specific outcome.

Continue reading

Given the unpredictable nature of criminal trials, in many cases, it is prudent to enter into a plea agreement with the State. Generally, a criminal defendant’s attorney will inform him or her of any plea offers, and advise the defendant of whether the offer is reasonable or whether the defendant should proceed to trial. If a defendant’s attorney does not communicate a plea offer, however, and the defendant is convicted, the defendant may not have any recourse if he or she does not learn of the offer in a timely fashion. This was explained in a recent assault case decided by the Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 3, highlighting the importance of retaining an effective attorney.  If you are charged with assault, it is essential to retain an assertive Tacoma assault defense attorney to help you seek a favorable result.

Facts and Procedure of the Case

Allegedly, the defendant was charged with multiple crimes, including numerous assault offenses and possession of a stolen firearm. The court assigned a public defender to represent the defendant. The public defender received a plea offer from the prosecutor, which the public defender communicated with the defendant. The defendant declined to accept the offer. Subsequently, the prosecutor sent the public defender an offer with a recommended sentence of 120 months. The offer went unanswered and ultimately expired. A jury convicted the defendant on all but one charge, and the court sentenced him to 432 months imprisonment.

It is reported that the defendant appealed his conviction and sentence, but the appeal was denied. He then filed a personal restraint petition that was also denied. He subsequently filed a motion for relief from judgment, which was considered as a personal restraint petition. The court ultimately dismissed the petition as time-barred.

Continue reading

When a defendant is charged with a crime, the State is tasked with proving each element of the crime to prove the defendant’s guilt. If the State cannot meet this burden, the defendant should be found not guilty. For example, many crimes require the State to prove a defendant had actual intent to commit the crime with which he or she is charged. In a recent case in which the defendant was charged with assault, the court explained when the State is required to establish an intent to harm and when a defendant may be convicted despite the lack of evidence of intent. If you are a Washington resident charged with an assault offense, it is wise to confer with a dedicated Tacoma assault defense attorney to discuss what defenses you may be able to assert.

Facts Regarding the Defendant’s Arrest and Trial

It is reported that a police officer arrested the defendant for a suspected violation of a no-contact order. When the officer searched the defendant, he found drugs on the defendant’s person, after which the defendant attempted to flee the scene. The officer tackled the defendant, who then began kicking at the officer, eventually making contact. The defendant also stated that he should have kicked the officer in the head. The defendant was charged with third-degree assault.

Allegedly, during the trial, the defendant’s attorney stated in his opening and closing arguments that the State could not prove the defendant had the intent to harm the officer, as required to obtain a conviction. The defendant was convicted, after which he appealed.

Continue reading

It is common for a person charged with assault to argue that he or she was acting in self-defense. A defendant that successfully establishes that he or she merely committed the alleged acts to protect his or her self may be able to avoid a conviction. Self-defense only excuses a response to an illegal use of force, however. Thus, in many cases, the State will argue that the defendant initially instigated an altercation, and created the need to act in self-defense. In a recent case, the Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 3, explained when a jury instruction that the defendant was the initial aggressor of an argument is appropriate in assault cases. If you live in Washington and are charged with an assault offense, it is prudent to meet with a skillful Washington assault defense attorney to discuss your potential defenses.

Facts and Procedure of the Case

Allegedly, the defendant and his victim live in the same building and had prior confrontations. Then, in December 2017, the defendant approached the victim and began punching him. The defendant then strangled the victim, reportedly out of fear that the victim would use the knife he regularly carried to stab him. Several witnesses observed the incident. When the police arrived, the defendant admitted he started the altercation, and that he strangled the victim. He was charged with second-degree assault by strangulation. Following a trial, a jury convicted the defendant. He then appealed on several grounds, including the argument that the trial court committed an error in providing a first aggressor instruction to the jury.

First Aggressor Instruction

Under Washington law, a defendant charged with assault can argue that his or her acts were taken in self-defense. The self-defense argument is only available, however, in cases in which the defendant’s actions were taken in response to the unlawful use of force. In other words, a person who instigates a confrontation, thereby provoking the person to act in self-defense, is not responding to unlawful force and will not be found to be acting in self-defense. Thus, a first aggressor instruction is appropriate in cases in which there is credible evidence that would allow a jury to reasonably conclude the defendant provoked the need for the victim to act. The instruction is also appropriate in cases in which there is a dispute as to who began an altercation.

Continue reading

Contact Information