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Assault Lawyer in Spokane

Experienced Lawyer in Spokane and Surrounding Areas on Assault Cases.

Mr. Graham has been fighting assault cases in front of juries in this state for over 25 years. When your freedom and reputation is on the line, you should turn to an attorney with the experience and the talent it takes to win your case. Mr. Graham has handled many high-profile assault cases that have been covered by Seattle-Times and ESPN. Steve Graham is a former prosecutor, and he understands how the government puts together an assault case, and he knows where weaknesess exist within a prosecutor's case.

Assault charges can bring lengthy jail sentences and it is important to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer defending your rights. As a "violent crime" having such an offense on your record can hurt career chances, and can hinder advancement in life. Fighting an assault case takes time and dedication. A defense lawyer needs to outwork the other side to bring justice for the client. Mr. Graham loves his work, and is passionate about the defense of the accused.

Domestic Violence:

Domestic Violence allegations bring special problems for a defendant. A person can lose his or her gun rights even for a misdemeanor conviction of assault DV. Even a charge can forever cloud a person's ability to purchase a firearm. Additionally mandatory arrest rules often mean the accused is incarcerated even before formal charges are levied. Many times the assault charge is coupled with other allegations such as Malicious Mischief, Interfering with the Reporting of a Domestic Violence Crime, Trespass, Harassment, Stalking, or Violation of a Protection Order, Restraining Order, or No-Contact Order.

Levels of Assault

Under Washington law, there are four levels of assault charges: First Degree Assault, Second Degree Assault, Third Degree Assault, and Fourth Degree Assault. As with all of Washington's criminal code, the term "first degree" means the most serious variety of the crime. Although there are multiple ways of committing Assault in the First Degree under 9A.36.011, the offense is typically defined as assaulting another person and thereby intentionally causing great bodily harm to the victim.

Assault in the First Degree brings a standard range punishment of 93 to 123 months, but the range can increase if a person has a felony criminal history. Second Degree Assault is typically defined as assaulting another person and causing substantial bodily harm, or assaulting someone with a deadly weapon regardless of whether any injury is done.

Second Degree Assault brings a standard range of punishment of 3 to 9 months for a first time offender. Assault in the Third Degree is typically defined as assaulting a police officer or certain other public employees. This offense brings a standard range sentence of 1 to 3 months. (It should be remembered that these standard ranges do not include the penalties for any weapons enhancements as discussed below.)

Assault Fourth Degree is a gross misdemeanor. Assault Fourth Degree is committing an assault against another person, and no injury or even pain has to be proven. Assault Fourth Degree cases are typically charged when the alleged conduct is a punch, slap or a push. As with any gross misdemeanor, the judge can sentence the defendant anywhere from 0 to 364 days in jail even for a conviction of Assault Fourth Degree.

Weapons Enhancements

Under Washington law, if a person is convicted of committing a crime while armed with a deadly weapon, penalties are added. The "Hard Time for Armed Crime" law requires the following enhancements for crimes committed with a firearm: 5 years for a class A felony; 3 years for a class B felony; and 18 months for a class C felony. (Assault First Degree is a class A felony, Assault Second is a class B, and Assault Third is a class C.) When a person is convicted of an offense with a weapon enhancement, he or she must serve every single day of that sentence, and cannot receive "good time" or time off for good behavior.

The following deadly weapon enhancements are required if the defendant is armed with non-firearm deadly weapon such as a knife or club: 2 years for a class A felony; 1 year for a class B felony; and 6 months for a class C felony. A criminal defense lawyer spends a lot of time contesting what is and what is not a "deadly weapon." In the past, prosecutors have alleged that even items such as a wiffle ball bat, small tree branch, umbrellas, or butter knife are deadly weapons. It is up to the jury in each individual case to determine if the instrument is a deadly weapon. Under Washington law, a deadly weapon is an instrument which has the capacity to inflict death, and from the manner in which it is used, is likely to produce or may easily and readily produce death.


As a defense lawyer, our firm often sees assault cases defended on grounds of self-defense. Under Washington law, the use of force against another person is lawful: 1) when used by a person who reasonably believes that he is about to be injured, and 2) when the force is not more than is necessary. The person using the force may use such force that a reasonable person would use under the same circumstances. There is no magical formula for determining precisely what self-defense is. The truth of the matter is that it often comes down to how much the jury likes the defendant and how much they dislike the alleged victim.

The determination of reasonableness is made from the perspective of the person using the force taking into consideration all the facts and circumstances known to the person at the time of the incident. The reasonableness of the use of force is not judged from the perspective of hindsight, nor is reasonableness assessed by what a person should have done after thinking it through. As stated by Oliver Wendell Holmes, "detached reflection cannot be demanded in the presence of an uplifted knife."

The law requires that the use of force be "necessary" which means that no reasonably effective alternative to the use of force appeared to exist as the circumstances reasonably appeared to the defendant at the time. It is not the burden of a defendant to prove that he or she acted in self defense. Rather, it is the prosecutor's burden to prove to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the force used was not done in self defense. Generally speaking, a person in Washington State has a right to stand their ground in a place they have a right to be. The law does not impose a duty to retreat. In my experience as a criminal defense lawyer, it is important to be careful during jury selection in self-defense cases. Views on self-defense and the use of force vary widely among different jurors. Additionally, a view of what force is "reasonable" might be different in more metropolitan areas such as Spokane, compared to areas such as Stevens County, Okanogan County, or Grant County for example. Generally, rural locales tend to view self-defense quite broadly.

Self-Defense Reimbursement:

In Washington state, the legislature has provided that defendants who are acquitted of assault due to self-defense may be reimbursed for their legal expenses under certain circumstances. If a person is found to be not guilty of the crime of assault, the jury is then asked to rule on whether or not the defendant has proved self-defense and whether he or she should be entitled to recoupment of their cost.

If the jury sides with the defendant, the judge makes the determination of the amount that is due the defendant. Our law firm has experience on such cases, both in Spokane and in Seattle. Many times it is hard for a judge or prosecutor to understand self-defense. Wrongful charges are filed, and in our constitutional system the jurors are the safeguard that protect us from our government.

Spokane Assault Attorney:

A skilled defense attorney is needed to properly defend an assault charge. When you meet with attorney Steve Graham for a consultation, he will look at the specific assault charges brought against you, and he can properly advise as to how he can best provide an effective defense. Because of his dedication and experience, lawyer Steve Graham can defend individuals in an innovative and thorough manner. These serious allegations call for a law firm that is aggressive and committed to your defense. Avoiding a conviction is always the top priority that lawyer Steve Graham has for his clients.

Free Consultation:

If you would like to discuss your case with Mr. Graham, feel free to call. He does free consultations on criminal cases in eastern Washington. You will simply receive his honest opinion and he will listen and answer your questions. Learn more about what a criminal defense lawyer can do to help you our your family member.

Call (509) 252-9167. Calls are usually returned within a few hours.