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.