Armed Self-Defense Laws
9A.16.050 Justifiable Homicide
Homicide is also justifiable when committed either:
- 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
- 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.
"(1) No person in the state shall be placed in legal jeopardy of any kind whatsoever for protecting by any reasonable means necessary, himself or herself, his or her family, or his or her real or personal property, or for coming to the aid of another who is in imminent danger of or the victim of assault, robbery, kidnapping, arson, burglary, rape, murder, or any other violent crime as defined in RCW 9.94A.030."
"(2) When a person charged with a crime listed in subsection (1) of this section is found not guilty by reason of self-defense, the state of Washington shall reimburse the defendant for all reasonable costs, including loss of time, legal fees incurred, and other expenses involved in his or her defense. This reimbursement is not an independent cause of action. To award these reasonable costs the trier of fact must find that the defendant's claim of self-defense was sustained by a preponderance of the evidence. If the trier of fact makes a determination of self-defense, the judge shall determine the amount of the award."
9A.52.040 Inference of intent (Burglary)
In any prosecution for burglary, any person who enters or remains unlawfully in a building may be inferred to have acted with intent to commit a crime against a person or property therein, unless such entering or remaining shall be explained by evidence satisfactory to the trier of fact to have been made without such criminal intent.
This section is important to establish intent of a burglar in regard to Castle Doctrine.
As a general rule, one who is the aggressor or who provokes an altercation in which another is killed cannot invoke the right of self-defense to justify or excuse the homicide. However, the right of self-defense is revived as to the aggressor or the provoker if that person in good faith withdraws from the combat at such time and in such a manner as to clearly apprise the other person that he or she was desisting or intended to desist from further aggressive action. See State v. Craig, 82 Wn.2d 777, 514 P.2d 151 (1973); State v. Wilson, 26 Wn.2d 468, 174 P.2d 553 (1946). In State v. Dennison, 115 Wn.2d 609, 801 P.2d 193 (1990), the Washington Supreme Court found that the trial court correctly refused the defendant's proposed self-defense instruction in a prosecution for felony murder because the defendant did not drop his gun or surrender and did not “clearly manifest a good faith intention to withdraw from the burglary or remove the decedent's fear.” State v. Dennison, 115 Wn.2d at 618.
A person has a right to use such force to defend another as the person may use in defending himself or herself. The right to resort to the use of force in defending another is to be judged by the facts and circumstances appearing to the defender at the time. Thus, an individual is justified in using force to defend another if that individual reasonably believes that the person to be protected is the innocent party and in danger, even if, in fact, the person being defended was the aggressor. See State v. Penn, 89 Wn.2d 63, 568 P.2d 797 (1977); State v. Fischer, 23 Wn.App. 756, 598 P.2d 742 (Div. 2 1979); State v. Bernardy, 25 Wn.App. 146, 605 P.2d 791 (Div. 1 1980)
The instruction is based upon State v. Allery, 101 Wn.2d 591, 682 P.2d 312 (1984). In Allery, a prosecution for second degree murder, the court held that because the evidence showed that the defendant was feloniously assaulted in a place where she had a right to be, the jury should have been instructed that the defendant had no duty to retreat, and that it was reversible error to refuse to give a “no duty to retreat” instruction. [...] A defendant is not entitled to a no-duty-to-retreat instruction where there is no evidence that anyone other than the defendant was the original aggressor. State v. Benn.
In Allery, the court held that because the evidence showed that the defendant was feloniously assaulted in a place where she had a right to be, the jury should have been instructed that the defendant had no duty to retreat. (WPIC 17.05)
In Miller, the court stated: If the appellants, at the time of the alleged assault upon them, as reasonably and ordinarily cautious and prudent men, honestly believed that they were in danger of great bodily harm, they would have the right to resort to self-defense, and their conduct is to be judged by the condition appearing to them at the time, not by the condition as it might appear to the jury in light of the testimony before it.
The appellants need not have been in actual danger of great bodily harm, but they were entitled to act on appearances; and if they believed in good faith and on reasonable grounds that they were in actual danger of great bodily harm, although it afterwards might develop that they were mistaken as to the extent of the danger, if they acted as reasonably and ordinarily cautious and prudent men would have acted under the circumstances as they appeared to them, they were justified in defending themselves.