The labels “victim” and “defendant” can often be interchangeable in Assault cases. “History is written by the victors,” a quote attributed to Winston Churchill, is appropriate. Assaults are rarely witnessed by police. Commonly, the prevailing party speaks to the police first. Sometimes the other party never even gets a chance to tell their side of the story.
Whoever gets the “victim” label oftentimes is simply a matter of speaking up and articulating your story well. Certain people are at an obvious disadvantage. For example, those who have a mental health diagnosis are much more likely to be labeled the “defendant”.
Regardless of culpability, the winner’s narrative then becomes incorporated into the official report adopted by the government. This official narrative espoused by the government is powerful because it is painted with an aura of legitimacy and reliability.
For these reasons, assaults can be among the best trial cases. In the State of Washington, we are not required to retreat when faced with an aggressor, State v. Allery, 101 Wn.2d 591 (1984), and someone may have a viable claim of self defense.
Reckless Endangerment means to act in a way that is a gross deviation from that of a reasonable person creating a substantial risk of death or serious injury. The most common scenario is when someone drives under the influence with young passengers in the car. However, this charge can encompass a wide variety of conduct.
Harassment means to knowingly threaten to injure, harm, confine, or cause property damage to another. The threatened person must be placed in reasonable fear that the threat would actually be carried out. The reasonableness of the fear experienced by the victim is pivotal to guilt or acquittal at trial.
Restraining Order Violations
A restraining or protection order violation means to knowingly disobey or violate a valid protection order. What constitutes a violation can vary depending on the context of the alleged contact and the exact provisions in the order.
When family is involved, things can get messy. Domestic Violence charges involve not only family members, but also people in dating relationships and roommates. Given the nature of relationships between parties involved in a DV case, there are common patterns of witness testimony that could help or hurt your case. If someone has prior DV convictions, they may face felony charges in the future (see court order violation, harassment, stalking, telephone harassment, and cyberstalking). Thus, it is crucial to consult with a lawyer when faced with a DV allegation.