Articles Posted in Assault

If a defendant is charged with assault in Washington, depending on the facts of the case, he or she may be able to argue that the allegedly offensive acts were taken in self-defense. In response to a defendant’s argument that he or she was acting in self-defense, the State may attempt to argue that other reasonable alternatives existed that would have enabled the defendant to avoid engaging in the use of force. Recently the Court of Appeals of Washington analyzed whether a reasonable alternatives argument is appropriate, in a case in which the defendant was granted a new trial due to prosecutorial misconduct. If you reside in Washington and are charged with assault it is prudent to meet with a knowledgeable Washington assault defense attorney to discuss what defenses may be available in your case.

Facts Regarding the Alleged Assault

It is reported that the defendant and his girlfriend were walking their dog at night on a trail near the defendant’s house. The defendant had a permit to carry a handgun and was carrying the gun in a holster around his waist during the walk, due to his girlfriend’s concerns for their safety. During the walk, the defendant and his girlfriend encountered two men who appeared to be fighting. One of the men was swinging a detached gutter at the other. Thus, the defendant approached the men to ask if everything was okay.

Allegedly, the men, who were intoxicated, stated they were fine. The defendant began walking back towards his home, but one of the men allegedly followed the defendant and began interrogating him, stating he touched his property. The defendant continued to walk towards his home, but the man became more aggressive and angrier. Ultimately, the defendant took his gun out of the holster and fired it three times at the ground near the man’s feet. The defendant was charged with assault in the first degree while armed with a firearm. During the trial, he argued that he was acting in self-defense, but the prosecution argued he failed to engage in reasonable alternatives. The defendant was convicted of assault in the first degree while armed with a firearm, after which he appealed.

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In Washington, in any case in which a defendant is convicted of a domestic violence crime, in addition to imposing a sentence and fines on the defendant, the court may issue a domestic violence no-contact order (DVNCO). While Washington courts are permitted to enter a DVNCO, their authority in defining the duration and terms of the DVNCO are limited by statute and case law, as recently explained by a Washington appellate court. If you are a Washington resident and are currently facing charges of a crime of domestic violence it is essential to meet with a knowledgeable Washington domestic violence defense attorney regarding your rights and protections afforded by the law.

Procedural and Factual Background

Reportedly, the defendant was charged with domestic violence assault and malicious mischief of the alleged victim. Following a  jury trial, the defendant was convicted as charged. The trial court then entered a felony judgment and sentence of twenty-nine months imprisonment for the assault conviction. The court also sentenced the defendant to 364 days confinement for the malicious mischief conviction, which was a gross misdemeanor, to run consecutively with the felony sentence, but suspended 244 days of the sentence.

It is alleged that the court then issued a DVNCO stating that the defendant was prohibited from contacting the victim for ten years. The defendant appealed the DVNCO with regards to the malicious mischief conviction, arguing that the DVNCO must be limited to the length of the suspended sentence. The appellate court agreed and remanded the case for a separate DVNCO for the malicious mischief conviction. Continue reading

Criminal defendants have numerous rights under state and federal law, including the right to confront a witness. In other words, a person charged with a crime has a right to question the anyone testifying on behalf of the State, and if a person is denied that right it may result in an unjust conviction. A Washington appellate court recently explained what constitutes a violation of the Sixth Amendment right to confront a witness in a case in which the defendant was charged with assault. If you are a resident of Washington facing assault charges it is critical to meet with a seasoned Washington assault defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss your rights.

Facts and Procedures of the Case

It is reported that the defendant’s mother was awoken by screams in the early morning, after which she went into the room her son shared with his girlfriend, where she encountered the girlfriend  who had a swollen eye and blood on her face and appeared frightened. The defendant and his mother were the only other two people in the house. The defendant’s mother called 911 and reported that the defendant struck the girlfriend in the face. The mother handed the girlfriend the phone and the girlfriend stated that she thought her jaw was broken. When the police arrived the girlfriend told the officer that the defendant punched her in the face. EMS arrived as well, and transported the girlfriend to the hospital, where she told the emergency room doctor that the defendant hit her.

It is alleged that the defendant was arrested and subsequently charged with assault in the second degree. The police could not find the girlfriend prior to the trial and the case was tried without her. The defendant was convicted and appealed, arguing that the admission of the girlfriend’s out of court statements that he hit her violated his right to confront witnesses.

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The Washington Rules of Criminal Procedure provide many rights and protection to criminal defendants that extend from the time of their arrest through trial. Additionally, even if a person is convicted of a crime and sentenced to imprisonment, he or she may be able to obtain relief via a personal restraint petition. Recently, a Washington appellate court discussed the grounds for granting a personal restraint petition, in a case in which the defendant was sentenced to 198 months’ imprisonment following a first degree assault conviction. If you are a Washington resident facing assault charges it is critical to meet with a knowledgeable Washington assault defense attorney regarding your rights and what defenses you may be able to argue to avoid a conviction.

Facts and Procedure of the Case

Allegedly, the defendant was charged with and convicted of first-degree assault with a deadly weapon. He was sentenced to a mid-range prison term, with a 48-month deadly weapon enhancement. He filed a personal restraint petition, which was successful. His revised offender score was 4 and his revised sentence range was 129 to 171 months. The defendant requested that he receive a sentence at the low end of the range, and that his sentence run concurrently with a sentence in another case. He did not request an exceptional sentence, however.  He was resentenced to 150 months, with the 48-month weapon enhancement. Subsequently, the defendant filed a second personal restraint petition.

Standard for Granting a Personal Restraint Petition

Under Washington law, granting a defendant’s personal restraint petition constitutes extraordinary relief. Thus, a personal restraint petition will only be granted in cases where the defendant meets a high standard. In cases in which the defendant alleges a constitutional error was committed, he or she must show that the error caused actual and substantial prejudice. In cases where the defendant claims a non-constitutional error was committed, however, he or she must prove the error caused a fundamental defect that inherently caused a total miscarriage of justice. In all cases, the defendant must prove that an error was committed by a preponderance of the evidence. Continue reading

Frequently, a person will be charged with assault following an altercation. It is common for both parties in an altercation to commit acts of physical violence and therefore in many cases in which a person is charged with assault, he or she can argue that he or she was acting in self-defense and should not be convicted. In a recent Washington case in which the defendant appealed his assault conviction, the court analyzed what constitutes sufficiency of evidence of self-defense. If you live in Washington and were recently charged with assault you should meet with a skilled Washington criminal defense attorney to discuss what defenses may be available in your case.

Factual Background of the Case

Allegedly, the defendant and his wife were arguing at their apartment. The disagreement became physical when the defendant grabbed his wife’s hand, pulled it behind her back, and pushed her against the wall. The defendant’s wife’s brother came to the apartment the following day and the defendant and the brother began to fight. The following day the defendant’s wife obtained a protective order prohibiting the defendant from contacting her or entering their apartment. She decided she wanted to end their relationship and removed the defendant’s name from their joint accounts.

It is reported that the defendant went to the apartment to remove his belongings. His wife’s brother met him there and served him with the protective order, after which the defendant became angry and began cursing. The defendant was walking towards the car when he was approached by his wife’s brother. The defendant then stabbed his wife’s brother in the abdomen. He was subsequently charged with and convicted of second-degree assault. The defendant appealed his conviction, arguing that the State failed to produce sufficient evidence that he was not acting in self-defense, and that the trial court misstated the law when answering a jury question.

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Under Washington law, if a person intentionally makes contact with another person in a harmful or offensive manner, it is considered assault, regardless of whether the contact actually causes harm. There are numerous degrees of assault in Washington, including assault in the third degree, which is an assault against a person in one of several listed professions. A Washington appellate court recently explained what is considered sufficient evidence to prove a defendant committed assault in the third degree, in a case in which the defendant alleged the State lacked sufficient evidence to support his conviction. If you live in Washington and are charged with assault in the third degree you should confer with an experienced Washington criminal defense attorney to discuss your case.

Factual Background of the Case

Reportedly, the police went to a home in response to a call made to 911 alleging domestic violence. When the police arrived at the scene, they observed the victim standing in the street visibly upset, and screaming she needed to get her kids back. Immediately after the police arrived, the defendant came out of the home screaming at the victim. He then began yelling profanity at the police and stated that the police should not be there because it was not a domestic violence issue. The police attempted to question the defendant but he turned to go back into the house.

It is alleged that the police then attempted to restrain the defendant and they engaged in a scuffle, and at one point the defendant grabbed one of the police officers by the shoulder. At one point, the defendant picked up a piece of wood that had broken off of the railing on the ramp leading into the home and raised it over his head as though he intended to use it as a weapon. The defendant was subsequently charged with and convicted of assault in the third degree of a police officer. He appealed, arguing the State had produced insufficient evidence to support his conviction.

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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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