This is the Law on Assault and Battery in Washington
Assault and battery constitute unique personal injury claims. One reason for this is because they generally occur together and usually involve an intentional intrusion into another person's personal space. This is why they are defined as the threat of force or use of force against another person.
Ideally, no one should have to suffer from injuries or force inflicted unlawfully or unjustly upon them by another. However, the reality is that the threat or application of force occurs a lot more often than anyone would like. In certain instances, this threat or application of force will lead to injury. In such instances, injured persons may be entitled to bring a claim for compensation.
However, being entitled to compensation is one thing while actually recovering a fair amount is another. At The Curtis Firm, we have helped hundreds of assault and Battery victims claim compensation for their injuries. We can help you too. Contact us here to learn how.
This article explains all you need to know about assault and Battery in Washington, and how the law applies to you.
Definition of Assault
Assault is an attempt or threat to injure another person. It may involve offensive or threatening behavior as well. The distinguishing factor is that no physical contact is required in a case of assault.
While physical contact is not an element to establish in an assault charge, the act must still be proved.
Generally, to prove an assault, it must be established that there was an overt or direct ‘act' done by the other person. This overt act must have ‘intimidated' you or put you in reasonable fear for your safety.
Mere words may not suffice to establish assault. There must have also been some act that put you in reasonable fear of imminent harm.
An ‘intent' to commit an assault is also necessary. This means that the threatening act must have been wilful. Dangerous or reckless acts may also be enough to establish an intent to assault.
Definition of Battery
While assault is the ‘threat' of imminent danger, battery involves actual physical contact with another person in a harmful or offensive manner.
The offensive physical contact can range from a mere touch to aggravated or harmful contact. In Battery cases, the victim need not be injured to establish the act. It only need be proved that there was offensive contact. Spitting on an individual will qualify as Battery even though no injury was sustained.
In an Assault charge, ‘intent' is an essential ingredient to be proved. In cases of Battery however, intent to harm the victim is not required. What is required is the intent of the offender to make physical contact with the victim.
This means that it would constitute battery if someone makes offensive physical contact with you or touches you without your consent. As such, unintentional physical contact, such as when someone accidentally bumps into you, will not constitute battery.
To prove battery, it is necessary to show:
- That there was intentional contact;
- That the contact was harmful or offensive (whether or not injury resulted); and
- That it was without consent.
Assault and battery laws in Washington
It is important to note that assault and Battery may constitute both a crime and a civil wrong. Due to their similarities, many jurisdictions have combined assault and battery into a single offense. Washington is one of these states.
Assault is classified according to the degree of its seriousness. In Washington, a crime of simple assault is a misdemeanor committed by intentionally placing another in fear of injury. It can also be committed by hitting, touching, or attempting to injure another.
If the Assault caused serious or substantial bodily harm or if it is done against persons under the age of 13, the offence will constitute a felony.
In Washington, an offender commits a simple assault by:
- Intentionally touching or striking another person in a harmful or offensive way;
- Attempting to inflict injury on another, or;
- Committing any act that intentionally places another person in imminent fear of harm.
Washington's Codes also recognize an assault and battery offence called reckless endangerment. A person may be liable for reckless endangerment when they engage in reckless conduct that puts another in fear of imminent harm.
In this instance, there will be no need to prove an intent to cause bodily harm or injury. It need only be shown that there was was reckless behavior. Driving dangerously with a child in the car would qualify as an instance of reckless behavior.
This is an Assault or Battery case involving family or household members. These may include spouses, former spouses, people related by blood or marriage, cohabiting adults, or people who are or have been in a dating relationship. Depending on the facts of the case, domestic violence cases usually carry more serious sentencing than mere ‘simple assault'.
Defenses to assault and battery
It should be noted that the at-fault party in an assault or battery personal injury claim may raise certain defenses. These may serve to reduce their liability or completely exonerate them. These defenses include the following:
This is the most common defense in assault and battery cases. To prove that an assault or battery was in defense of oneself, the person charged must establish that:
- There was a threat of unlawful force or harm made against them;
- That they had a real fear of imminent danger or harm;
- That there was no harm or provocation on their own part; and
- There was no reasonable chance of retreating and avoiding the attack.
Self-defense does not however mean that the at-fault party will be fully exonerated in all circumstances. For this defense to fully avail the party, it must be shown that the force used was reasonably proportional to the threat posed by the victim.
There are also other variables usually considered in the plea of self-defense. For instance, the physique of the victim compared to that of the accused claiming self-defense may also be considered.
Defense of Others
In this instance, the person charged for assault must have acted to protect or defend another person. This is not all. There must also be a real or perceived fear of imminent harm to that other person. The exceptions or factors to be considered in self-defense also apply to this defense.
Defense of Property
The at-fault party may also raise the plea that they were acting in defense of their own own property or that of another. Generally, the owner of a property is allowed to use reasonable force in the defense of their own property.
This defense however often involves instances when the said property is about to or has been stolen. It also applies to instances when an intruder attempts to or gains forceful entry into one's house.
This defense is based on the understanding that a willing person cannot complain of harm. This means that a person who willingly and knowingly places themselves in a position of danger cannot later sue for assault and battery.
As such, if a person gives consent to an ‘assaulting' act, the claim of assault will generally not avail them. A claim will however avail the victim if the quantum of the act surpasses the permission given.
Your Legal Options in an Assault and Battery Case
Understand that assault and battery claims can be tricky. Depending on how the facts shape up, it may be difficult to ascertain who bears the greater liability. Until you consult a Tacoma Attorney with experience in assault and battery cases, you may not know that the law is actually on your side. The job of an excellent attorney is to find and establish evidence in your support.
Get in touch with us at The Curtis Firm for a full understanding of your rights. We will listen to your story and help you formulate the best course of action. Call us at 253-327-1063 or contact us here to start a conversation today.