Court Discusses Sufficiency of Evidence in Washington Assault Case

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.

Proving Assault in the Third Degree

To prove the defendant committed assault in the third degree, the jury was required to find beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant assaulted a police officer while the officer was performing his official duties and that the assault occurred in the State of Washington. Under the Revised Code of Washington, an assault is the act of intentionally striking or touching another person in a harmful or offensive manner, regardless of whether the touching causes any bodily injury. A strike or touch is considered offensive if it would offend an individual who is not overly sensitive.

An assault can also be an act done with the intent to cause physical harm, but failing to do so, or an act committed with the intent of placing someone in fear of physical harm, even if the actor did not actually intend to harm the person. Here, the court found that there was ample evidence to support the defendant’s conviction. Specifically, the State presented evidence that the police officer felt pressure on the right side of his head during the scuffle and later had a cut and mark on his scalp. As such, the court affirmed the defendant’s conviction.

Meet with a Seasoned Washington Assault Defense Attorney Regarding Your Charges

If you face charges of assault in the third degree or any other assault crime it is imperative to meet with a seasoned Washington assault defense attorney to discuss your charges and your available defenses. The skillful criminal defense attorneys of the Law Offices of Smith & White will provide you with a diligent and thorough defense to help you fight to retain your liberties. We can be reached at 253-203-1645 or through our online form to set up a meeting to discuss your case.

 

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