Defending one’s self is a right unto everyone. If you, a loved one or your property is attacked, well … you have a right to defend, within reason of course.
In Washington State, the law of “self defense” is very specific and, if established by a preponderance of the evidence at trial, not only exonerates the defendant from criminal liability (RCW 9A.16.020), but also provides opportunity for recoupment of all attorney’s fees, costs and other expenses caused by prosecution of the case. This is so even when the defendant is mistaken over the intentions of the other party. The law on this point reads in part, “If a person acting as a reasonable prudent person mistakenly believes himself to be in danger of injury or of an offense being committed against him, he has the right to defend himself by the use of lawful force against that apparent injury or offense even if he is not actually in such danger.” Moreover, a defendant is entitled to consideration of his self defense claim no matter how tenuous the claim may seem, and once a self-defense claim has been raised the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the absence of self-defense. In short, the legal standard required to raise a self defense claim (preponderance of the evidence) is actually lower than the legal standard the government must meet to disprove it (beyond a reasonable doubt).
In light of the overall breadth of a possible self-defense claim and its benefits at trial, a jury instruction related to the same is most certainly necessary whenever there is any evidence whatsoever tending to establish self-defense. Beyond just the benefit of being found not guilty due to an affirmative defense, the defendant is entitled to a hearing on the issue of reimbursement for his expenses and actual attorney’s fees pursuant to RCW 9A.16.110. The Legislature’s intent in enacting this law is quite clear – no one who is defending himself, others, or his property may be made to suffer at the hand of an overzealous, unrelenting prosecutor.
Whenever cited for an assault or other crime it is imperative to hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Attorney. The Seattle Criminal Defense Attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified and reputable Seattle criminal defense lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those arrested or charged for crime all across Western Washington and the Greater Puget Sound region. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances of the given case. So, whether you are cited with an infraction or arrested and/or charged with misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or a felony, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys at (206) 441-0900.