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Washington Court Discusses Proving an Assault Constitutes Self-Defense

Assault charges can result in substantial penalties, but simply because someone is charged with assault does not mean that the State can obtain a conviction. In many cases, there are numerous defenses a person can assert, including self-defense. Recently, a Washington court explained what evidence a defendant must set forth to demonstrate that an action was taken in self-defense, in a matter in which the defendant appealed his conviction for assault with a deadly weapon. If you are charged with assault, it is vital to meet with a dedicated Washington assault defense attorney to discuss your possible defenses.

The Alleged Assault

It is reported that the defendant lived with his wife in an apartment, and his mother-in-law and father-in-law lived in the same complex. The defendant became abusive towards his wife, and she obtained a no-contact order against him, but she continued to live with him regardless. She eventually told him she wanted a divorce due to his behavior. The following day, she left the apartment to take their children to school and returned home after a short time. When she arrived in her apartment, she found her mother bleeding on the floor. The mother, who suffered critical injuries, indicated that the defendant had assaulted her. The defendant was charged with multiple crimes, including first-degree assault with a deadly weapon. He was convicted of assault, after which he filed an appeal, arguing in part that the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was not acting in self-defense.

Proving an Assault Constitutes Self-Defense

Under Washington law, to obtain a conviction for assault, the State must prove that the defendant acted with the intent to cause great bodily harm and did, in fact, inflict significant harm. If a defendant raises a claim that he was acting in self-defense, the burden shifts to the State to demonstrate, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant was not acting in self-defense.

Evidence showing that acts were undertaken in self-defense is evaluated from the standpoint of a reasonably prudent person, with all of the defendant’s knowledge viewing a situation through the defendant’s eyes. The use of reasonable force in self-defense is justified where there appears to be a threat of imminent harm. The amount of force permitted is limited, however, to what a reasonably prudent person would find necessary under the conditions present at the time of the alleged act. A successful claim of self-defense negates criminal intent.

In the subject case, the State produced evidence showing the amount of force used by the defendant and showed that the victim suffered life-threatening injuries. Thus, the court found that even if the victim was the aggressor, the defendant’s acts were not justified as self-defense. As such, his conviction was affirmed.

Meet with a Trusted Criminal Defense Attorney in Washington

Assault is a crime that has numerous possible defenses, including the argument that the defendant was acting in self-defense. If you are accused of an assault crime, it is smart to consult a lawyer to discuss your charges. The trusted criminal defense attorneys of The Law Offices of Smith & White are proficient at helping people charged with offenses in the pursuit of just outcomes, and we will advocate zealously on your behalf. You can reach us through our online form or at 253-203-1645 to set up a consultation.

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