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Self-Defense And The Washington State Criminal Code

As criminal defense lawyers we respect the seriousness with which juries deliberate cases. It is a daunting task and for the most part juries apply the law as provided to them through the jury instructions. This is extremely important when the charges are as serious such as murder and manslaughter. The criminal code in Washington State is very specific regarding justifisable homicide in particular. When is a homicide excusable? When can self-defense be a legitimate defense to a homicide?

In the sections of the RCW (Revised Code Washington)  Chapter 9A.16 RCW, defenses are provided for the many extenuating circumstances where a life may be tragically lost but the homicide is an act of self-defense in the protection of one’s own life or the life of another person. 

For example as stated in RCW 9A.16.050 Homicide — By other person — When justifiable.

Homicide is also justifiable when committed either:

     (1) In the lawful defense of the slayer, or his or her husband, wife, parent, child, brother, or sister, or of any other person in his or her presence or company, when there is reasonable ground to apprehend a design on the part of the person slain to commit a felony or to do some great personal injury to the slayer or to any such person, and there is imminent danger of such design being accomplished; or

     (2) In the actual resistance of an attempt to commit a felony upon the slayer, in his or her presence, or upon or in a dwelling, or other place of abode, in which he or she is.

The facts and circumstances of the case and not just the charges brought by the prosecutor must be weighed by the jury. In these cases The Crowley Law Firm attorneys are ever mindful that clients who may have acted in a lawful manner are facing the loss of their freedom if convicted. It is the duty of the criminal defense attorney to make sure the jury understands all the particulars of a given incident and to ask the jury to apply the law as it is written.

The Crowley Law Firm that practices with offices in Seattle and Yakima also represents clients from Tacoma and all of Pierce County as well as cities in the Yakima Valley including Richland, Pasco, Kennewick and Spokane. The seriousness of many of the cases that John Crowley and the firm defend calls upon their over 20 years experience in criminal defense law from murder to drug charges and from sex crimes to federal appeals.