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.