Washington Court Discusses Sufficiency of Evidence of Self-Defense in Assault Cases

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.

Sufficient Evidence of Self Defense

In Washington, evidence if adequate to support a conviction if it allows a reasonable fact finder to find essential elements of the alleged crime beyond a reasonable doubt when viewed in the light most favorable to the State. While circumstantial evidence is less reliable than direct evidence, the courts defer to the fact finder on issues of credibility and the persuasiveness of the evidence.

To show an act was committed in self-defense, the defendant must show that he or she reasonably believed he or she was about to be injured, and that he or she used no more force than was required to prevent the harm. A jury must assess the evidence both subjectively and objectively. The subjective analysis requires the jury to evaluate the purported threat against the defendant, while the objective portion requires the jury to assess what a reasonable person would have done under similar circumstances.

Here, the court found that the jury could have reasonably found that a prudent person in the defendant’s position would not have perceived the defendant’s wife’s brother as a threat. Additionally, the court noted that the jury could reasonably find that even if the defendant was threatened, he responded with more force than was necessary. Thus, the court affirmed the defendant’s conviction.

Consult a Trusted Washington Assault Defense Attorney Regarding Your Charges

If you are faced with assault charges in Washington it is crucial to consult a trusted Washington assault defense attorney regarding your charges and what arguments you can present to help you protect your liberties. The seasoned criminal defense attorneys of the Law Offices of Smith & White will work tirelessly to help you seek the best legal outcome possible under the facts of your case. We can be contacted at 253-203-1645 or via our form online to set up a confidential and free consultation.

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