Assault on a Police Officer. A Washington Criminal Defense Lawyer | Attorney’s Perspective.
As criminal defense lawyers | attorneys, we have dealt with a variety of cases and situations where clients are charged with assaulting police officers. For the most part, clients were intoxicated and/or angry and/or young and/or had unaddressed mental health issues that caused them to act out.. The problem with any assault involving a police officer acting in their official capacity is that it is automatically elevated to a felony, no matter how minor the injuries.
Officers and Assault
Police officers deal with crime and poor behavior every day so, generally, they have a seasoned and levelheaded attitude towards assaults. From their perspective, there are assaults due to intoxication; assaults due to mental illness; assaults due to fear and resisting arrest; and, of course, intentional, sober, calculated assaults. These assaults run the gambit of representing no real danger to an officer, but resulted in minor scratches or bruising, to assaults that do in fact represent danger and result in permanent consequences and loss of work.
With the law and this viewpoint in mind, we have seen a number of cases involving intoxicated clients be filed as misdemeanors because the officer was not interested in pursuing a felony and the prosecuting attorney respected this wish. We have also seen a number of “resisting arrest” cases be declined as felonies because it was not clear that our client intentionally assaulted the police officer. That being said, we have also seen the majority of the cases be filed as felony Assault 3 charges even where the officer suffered minimal injuries. In many ways, it is the officer’s viewpoint on the assault that drives the charging decision of the prosecutor’s office as well as what kind of conviction the prosecutor’s office will seek. Most prosecuting offices will start with a felony charge and wait to see what the criminal defense attorney | lawyer brings up as issues and mitigating factors. Recognizing the role and needs of your criminal defense attorney | lawyer is the first step towards resolving the vast majority of these kinds of cases.
In our experience as criminal defense attorneys | lawyers, in those cases that should not go to trial, the best approach to an assault on an officer case is to start by explaining the reason why the assault took place, give the background on our client and let them know any underlying problems are being taken care of. Over the course of our careers, we have represented clients with a wide variety of underlying issues: everything from PTSD related to sexual abuse to just simply drinking too much. Identifying what really drove the assault or combative behavior and taking steps to deal with it is essential to getting a result that is fair and reflects the facts of each particular case. Though this is not the simplest or quickest way to approach resolving these kinds of criminal cases, it does, in our experience, produce the right results. Officers, just like anyone else, want to know why the assault took place and want assurances that steps are being taken to prevent it from reoccurring. Police officers are more likely to look favorably on a case if they understand why the behavior took place and know it will not repeat itself.
The criminal defense lawyers | attorneys in our office have handled a wide variety of complicated cases in the criminal arena over the course of our careers. We are a unique blend of courtroom experience, knowledge, skills and temperament. Our lawyers know criminal cases are rarely as simple as the police reports claim and our clients hire us because they want staunch, uncompromising and effective counsel who takes the time to fight vigorously for the right result. Whether our role is counsel, negotiator or litigator, we have years of experience working and fighting with prosecutors to resolve cases with our clients’ best interests in mind.