Assault in Southwest Washington
Assault charges can bring lengthy jail sentences and it is important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney defending your rights. Attorney Erin Bradley McAleer loves his work, and is passionate about the defense of the accused.
Domestic Violence allegations bring special problems for a defendant. A person can lose his or her gun rights even for a misdemeanor conviction of Assault Domestic Violence. Additionally, mandatory arrest rules often mean the accused is incarcerated even before formal charges are levied. Many times the assault charge is coupled with another allegation of Malicious Mischief, Interfering with the Reporting of a Domestic Violence Crime, Trespass, Harassment, Stalking, or Violation of a Protection Order, Restraining Order, or No – Contact Order.
Levels of Assault
Under Washington law, there are four levels of assault charges: First Degree Assault, Second Degree Assault, Third Degree Assault, and Fourth Degree Assault. As with all of Washington’s criminal code, the term “first degree” means the most serious variety of the crime. Although there are multiple ways of committing Assault in the First Degree under 9A.36.011, the offense is typically defined as assaulting another person and thereby intentionally causing great bodily harm to the victim. Assault in the First Degree brings a standard range punishment of 93 to 123 months, but the range can increase if a person has a felony criminal history. Second Degree Assault is typically defined as assaulting another person and causing substantial bodily harm, or assaulting someone with a deadly weapon regardless of whether any injury is done. Second Degree Assault brings a standard range of punishment of 3 to 9 months for a first time offender. Assault in the Third Degree is typically defined as assaulting a police officer or certain other public employees. This offense brings a standard range sentence of 1 to 3 months. Fourth Degree Assault is a gross misdemeanor. Fourth Degree Assault is committing an assault against another person, and no injury or even pain has to be proven. Fourth Degree Assault cases are typically charged when the alleged conduct is a punch, slap, or a push. As with any gross misdemeanor, the judge can sentence the defendant anywhere from 0 to 364 days in jail even for a conviction of Fourth Degree Assault. It should be remembered that these standard ranges do not include the penalties for any weapons enhancements as discussed below.
Under Washington law, if a person is convicted of committing a crime while armed with a deadly weapon, penalties are added. The “Hard Time for Armed Crime” law requires the following enhancements for crimes committed with a firearm: 5 years for a Class A Felony; 3 years for a Class B Felony; and 18 months for a Class C Felony. (Assault First Degree is a Class A Felony, Assault Second is a Class B, and Assault Third is a Class C.) The following deadly weapon enhancements are required if the defendant is armed with a non-firearm deadly weapon such as a knife or club: 2 years for a Class A Felony, 1 year for a Class B Felony, and 6 months for a Class C Felony. A criminal defense lawyer spends a lot of time contesting what is and what is not a “deadly weapon.” In the past, prosecutors have alleged that even items such as plastic chairs, umbrellas, or butter knives are deadly weapons. It is up to the jury in each individual case to determine if the instrument is a deadly weapon. Under Washington law, a deadly weapon is an instrument which has the capacity to inflict death and, from the manner in which it is used, is likely to produce or may easily and readily produce death.
As a defense lawyer, I often see assault cases defended on grounds of self-defense. Under Washington law, the use of force against another person is lawful: 1) when used by a person who reasonably believes that they are about to be injured, and 2) when the force is not more than is necessary. The person using the force may use such force that a reasonable person would use under the same circumstances. The determination of reasonableness is made from the perspective of the person using the force taking into consideration all the facts and circumstances known to the person at the time of the incident. The reasonableness of the use of force is not judged from the perspective of hindsight, nor is reasonableness assessed by what a person should have done after thinking it through. As stated by Oliver Wendell Holmes, “detached reflection cannot be demanded in the presence of an uplifted knife.” The law requires that the use of force be “necessary” which means that no reasonable effective alternative to the use of force appeared to exist as the circumstances reasonable appeared to the defendant at the time. It is not the burden of a defendant to prove that he or she acted in self-defense. Rather, it is the prosecutor’s burden to prove to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the force used was not done in self-defense. Generally speaking, a person in Washington State has a right to stand their ground in a place they have a right to be. A person may stand his or her ground and defend themselves by the use of lawful force. The law does not impose a duty to retreat. In my experience as a criminal defense lawyer, it is important to be careful during jury selection in self-defense cases. Views on self-defense and the use of force vary widely among different jurors. Additionally, a view of what force is “reasonable” might be different in more metropolitan areas such as Vancouver, compared to some of the more rural neighboring counties for example.
Southwest Washington Assault Attorney
A skilled defense attorney is needed to properly defend an assault charge. When you meet with attorney Erin Bradley McAleer for a free consultation, he will look at the specific charges brought and can properly advise you as to how he can best provide and effective defense. Because of his training and experience, attorney Erin Bradley McAleer can defend people in an innovative and thorough manner. These serious allegations call for a defense attorney that is aggressive and dedicated to your defense. Avoiding convictions is always the goal that Erin Bradley McAleer has for his clients.
The Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer will fight to ensure that you achieve the best possible outcome in your court case. Call attorney Erin Bradley McAleer today at (360) 334-6277 to schedule a free, confidential consultation.
Washington Attorney Erin Bradley McAleer represents clients throughout Southwest Washington State, including in Clark County, Cowlitz County, and Skamania County and Vancouver, Battle Ground, Camas, La Center, Ridgefield, Washougal, Woodland, Yacolt, Castle Rock, Kalama, Kelso, Longview, North Bonneville, and Stevenson. Attorney Erin Bradley McAleer focuses on the areas of Criminal Defense, Traffic Infractions, Landlord Tenant, Personal Injury, Firearm Rights Restoration, and Post-Conviction Relief (Vacating & Sealing Criminal Records).