If you have been accused of assault, you need to put forth the best legal defense strategies to win your case. With over 50 years of combined experience in representing clients in criminal defense cases throughout Washington, the legal team at Spencer & Sundstrom has the experience you need.

While every assault case has its own unique set of circumstances, there are some overarching legal defense strategies that the best lawyers will utilize to protect and defend their clients.


The claim of “Self-Defense” in Washington falls under the statutory umbrella of a “Lawful Use of Force.” At its essence, RCW 9A.16.020 provides that a person may lawfully use physical force against another person in Washington in any one of three situations – defending yourself, defending a third person, or defending your property. To prevail, the judge or jury must find that:

  • The client reasonably believed that he, the third party or his property was at imminent risk of being injured or lost;
  • The client did not exercise more force than what was necessary to protect himself, the third party or his property form the imminent risk of injury or loss; and
  • Client’s own actions did not provoke the need to exercise force against the alleged victim.

Perhaps a holdover from the days of the “Wild, Wild West,” and markedly different from jurisdictions found in the eastern part of the country, in Washington there is no duty for a person to try to retreat or escape before acting to defend himself against a threat to himself, a third party or his property. A party can stand their ground.

As an “affirmative defense” under Washington law, once asserted and supported at trial with facts, the defense of Lawful use of Force requires the prosecution to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defense is not available to the client given the facts of the particular case. Further, attorney fees and costs may be recovered from the State after acquittals based on the affirmative defense of Lawful Use of Force. RCW 9A.16.110.

While self-defense is an incredibly common legal defense strategy in assault cases, there are specific standards and limitations in terms of the facts and evidence in every case which makes it prudent to employ seasoned legal defense counsel in these types of cases.

If you have been accused of assault, call Spencer & Sundstrom today to discuss your legal needs today.

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt

Start typing and press Enter to search