Vancouver Self Defense Lawyer
“Stand Your Ground.” We have all heard it before. But how does this work when the police and the courts get involved? You have the right to protect yourself from a dangerous situation. Washington allows you to use reasonable physical force in defending yourself, your property or another person from imminent bodily harm. RCW 9A.16.020 governs the lawful use of force, and allows it a couple different situations:
- Defending yourself
- Defending others
- Defending your property
If you believe that you used self-defense during a threatening situation, but were nevertheless arrested for a crime, then you should speak to a criminal defense lawyer. Washington State allows a person to use self-defense proportionate to the harm threatened. In other words, the use of force in self-defense must be no more than is necessary. The old axiom comes to mind – “you cannot bring a knife to a fist fight.”
I typically see lawful use of force raised most often in the following cases
In all three situations (self defense, defending others, and defending property) – there is a requirement that your use of force is no more than necessary, and that you are not trespassing. Let’s take a look.
Washington law allows you to use reasonable physical force if you are attacked or if you reasonably believe you are about to be attacked. “Reasonable” is the key word. Your use of force must be reasonable considering the circumstances, i.e. you may not use more force than is reasonably necessary to defend yourself.
What about those situations where you weren’t actually attacked? You do not have to be actually physically attacked in order to defend yourself. Rather, you may defend yourself if you reasonably believe someone is about to harm you. Importantly, self-defense requires that you be in a place where you are legally allowed to be. In other words, you cannot assert self-defense if you are trespassing on someone’s property.
Defense of Others
Washington law allows you to use reasonable force in defending another person from imminent harm. Much like self-defense, the use of force is only lawful it is reasonable, i.e. no more than necessary to dispel the harm or threatened harm. Additionally, you cannot assert defense of others if you are trespassing on someone’s property.
Defense of Property
Washington law allows you to use reasonable force in defending your property from “malicious trespass, or other malicious interference with real or personal property.” Let’s unpack this. This means that you can use reasonable force to protect your home from a trespasser and defend your personal property from another’s intentional malicious damage. If your property is being attacked, you can defend it. Much like self-defense, the use of force must be reasonable, i.e. no more than necessary to dispel the harm or threatened harm.
Self Defense Attorney In Your Corner
Vancouver criminal defense attorney Tom Carley’s expertise in self-defense law can be your best weapon in fighting your case. He understands the nuances of Washington law, and knows how it applies to real-life situations. Every case is unique, and it is important to have an attorney who listens, who asks the right questions, and who fights for you.
Our defense team understands that there are two sides to every story, and that police officers can get it wrong in deciding whom to arrest. Our office knows the training that police officers undergo in physical force investigations. We understand what they look for, and what they should look for, in deciding who is the primary aggressor.
However, self-defense situations often happen behind closed doors. Officers are not eyewitnesses to the events, and they only learn about it from talking with the parties after it happened. Our legal team leaves no stone unturned in defending your case. We pride ourselves on achieving outstanding results for our clients. When you are facing a serious charge, hire a serious criminal defense attorney. Call us today, or fill out a contact form here.