What is the “Stand Your Ground” Law?
Also known as “no duty to retreat,” the “stand-your-ground law legally justifies an individual’s use of force against another without retreating to protect themselves and others against perceived threats and attacks. The law allows anyone who is where they legally are supposed to be to use any force necessary to prevent imminent bodily harm or death without first retreating.
If you’re facing charges for acting in self-defense, the stand-your-ground law may be the defense you need to get the charges reduced or dropped. Consult a skilled Seattle criminal justice attorney for legal guidance and representation. The lawyer can investigate the circumstances of your case and help you create a strong defense strategy to get you off the hook.
What Are the Self-Defense Laws in Washington State?
Washington is a stand-your-ground state, meaning no statute requires you to retreat if you’re being attacked in an area where you should legally be. You don’t have to try to escape to safety; instead, you should use the necessary force to protect yourself.
However, it’s crucial to understand the nuances of the law, as an assault and battery lawyer in Seattle explains below. You may legally use self-defense if:
- You’re trying to prevent a “mentally incompetent” person from hurting you or someone else
- You reasonably believe that someone is about to injure you
- You’re trying to prevent someone from “maliciously trespassing” or interfering with your property
- You are trying to detain someone who shouldn’t be on your property
- You’re trying to perform a citizen’s arrest of someone who committed a felony to deliver them to law enforcer
- You’re a law enforcer performing your job or assisting another officer under their instructions
Since there are multiple instances under which you can use self-defense, it helps to go over them with a skilled assault and battery attorney in Seattle to discuss how your case plays out under the rule. After an assessment, they can help you create a defense plan that works in your favor.
When Can I Use the Stand-Your-Ground Rule in Self-Defense?
The stand-your-ground law is clear that you can’t use self-defense if you’re in a place you’re not allowed to be in the first place. On the contrary, you don’t have to be actually attacked or injured to defend yourself. You can use self-defense to protect yourself against harassment, malicious mischief, assault, or disorderly conduct in the following circumstances:
Defense to Others
Washington Law allows using force to prevent a person from attacking another. Under certain circumstances, you may use force to protect another person in the face of imminent bodily harm or risk of death.
Like in the case of self-defense, the stand-your-ground law allows using a reasonable amount of force to protect another person. Additionally, the person being protected must not be trespassing at the time of the incident.
Defense to Property
Under specific circumstances, you may use force to defend real or personal property against “malicious trespass or interference. If someone is entering your home or taking or damaging your property with evil intentions, you can use reasonable force to defend your property. Again, you may only use the necessary force to defend your property.
When Can I Use Deadly Force in Self-Defense?
The degree of force applied in self-defense is limited to what a prudent person would consider reasonable and necessary under the defendant’s conditions when they acted. Deadly force is only allowed in self-defense if the defendant reasonably believes they were threatened with death or significant personal injury.
One is allowed to use deadly force in self-defense if they have a good-faith belief that deadly force is necessary from an objective standpoint. When facing charges for assault and use of deadly force, your Seattle assault and battery attorney can help show that you had a good faith belief that it was necessary to use deadly force from an objective standpoint.
What is the Difference Between Stand-Your-Ground and the Castle Doctrine?
Washington State has another statute known as the Castle Doctrine, a Defense of Habitation Law, or Castle Law. This law designates a person’s residence or legally occupied space, such as a vehicle.
Such a place provides them with immunity and protection in certain circumstances. As such, they can use force to defend themselves against intruders and be free of legal liability.
Throughout the United States, the situation describes a “no duty to retreat” and allows for the use of deadly force in some circumstances. It negates the duty to retreat to avoid violence, especially when an individual is assaulted in a place where they’re rightfully entitled to be. Deadly force is justifiable in a homicide case or where the actor reasonably fears death or bodily harm.
You can raise the castle doctrine defense or stand-your-ground defense when facing charges for a violent crime like assault or domestic violence. However, consult with a skilled Seattle criminal justice lawyer before using either in your defense strategy, depending on your case circumstances.
Exceptions to Self-Defense Laws
Despite the law making provisions for the use of deadly force in some circumstances, the word “reasonable” leaves some gray areas. To successfully fight criminal charges, you must show that your actions were reasonable, given the circumstances. For example, shooting at and killing someone who pulled into your driveway to turn their car around isn’t rational.
However, if you fired your weapon at someone who was pointing their gun at you and was threatening to shoot, your action would be reasonable in this case. Additionally, you mustn’t have provoked the plaintiff or used self-defense while trespassing on another person’s property. An experienced legal expert can consider all these factors and advise you accordingly.
A Skilled and Aggressive Assault and Battery Lawyer Helping Prove Your Innocence
Did you exercise your right to defend yourself but now face serious criminal assault and battery charges? The situation may be frightening and may not simply pass as soon as you think, but with experienced criminal defense lawyers in Seattle, you can beat the charges. They can use their skills to show that you’re not guilty of the severe crimes you have been accused of.
At our firm, we use our skills and knowledge to help clients beat the criminal charges they face. Assault and battery are serious crimes in Washington, and the consequences can be harsh if you get convicted. That’s why we don’t want you to go to battle alone. Contact us to schedule a FREE case evaluation for the best defense strategy.