Mutual Combat

A Criminal Defense Lawyers Prospective on Mutual Combat

Mutual combat is an old common law concept that allowed two consenting adults to fight without fear of being prosecuted. Given this concepts was rooted in dueling, it is of little surprise it has been watered down in today’s society where such behavior and violence is generally discouraged except in controlled professional settings. The consent of consenting to an assault has led to judges struggling with agreed combat in everything from contact sports to gang initiation beatings. As criminal defense attorneys | lawyers, we find this area of law ripe for argument.

So can you claim that an assault in mutual combat was “consented to” in Washington?

At present, your criminal defense attorney | lawyer certainly has room to argue as there still has been no final decision on the definition or application of mutual combat. That being said, defense lawyers will likely have the best success arguing that the assault was “consented” to if the damage | degree of assault was foreseeable; and, the circumstances surrounding the assault are fair and/or do not violate public policy. Also, keep in mind that things vary, depending on whether someone is charged or prosecuted in City, State or Federal Court.  For example, if you engage in mutual combat, at least in the City of Tumwater, the act of doing so is a misdemeanor in itself.  In the City of Seattle, it is illegal only if it creates “substantial risk” of injury to a person not involved in the fight or damage to property belonging to a person not actively involved in the fight.  Also, if one person in particular ends up badly hurt, the chances of felony charges increase dramatically.

Mutual Combat Does NOT Protect Someone From a Civil Suit.

If one is involved in mutual combat assault, it is important to know that Washington has expressly refused to adopt the rule that parties engaged in mutual combat will be denied relief in a civil action.  Hart v. Geysel,  159 Wn. 632, 635, 294 P. 570 (1930).  What this means is even if you are able to avoid criminal prosecution for an assault arising out of a mutual combat, parties can still sue each other in civil court for the damages depending on the facts.  With that in mind, it is best to know a good lawyer.

As criminal defense attorneys | lawyers, disputes or assaults that are mutual combat lead to a lot of fact specific discussions. If you or a loved one is under investigation or arrest because they assaulted someone in mutual combat, it is important they assert their right to counsel and speak with our criminal defense lawyers | attorneys before they give a statement to a police officer or other official. The law surrounding mutual combat and self-defense has many subtleties and a consultation with a knowledgeable defense lawyer assures you have a team of highly skilled third parties involved in the decision making process. If you or a loved one is in jail, lawyers have the right to visitation and a private discussion with their clients. Any defense attorney | lawyer with integrity will always educate and assist their clients in ways to avoid being charged.  We have helped a significant number of clients avoid charges by giving statements to police after a proper vetting. If you decide to give a statement, we assure your statements and any witness information are accurately recorded by the investigating officer by contacting the police directly and remaining involved in the interview process. Even if we decide not to give a statement, our office will contact the investigating officers on your behalf, let them know you are asserting your right to remain silent and explain any potential arrest and bail issues to you and your family.  This is some of the general process our privately retained lawyers follow in proactively litigating our client’s cases to the fullest extent allowed by the law.

Our firm has a strategic combination of courtroom experience, skills, knowledge and temperament. Our criminal defense lawyers | attorneys work as a team and are highly experienced in dealing with the complex fact specific arguments like those surrounding assault and mutual combat. Our lawyers know that criminal cases are rarely as simple as the police report claims and our clients retain us early on in the process to make sure their rights are protected. Consultations are free but a poor choice in counsel is not. The first step in evaluating counsel is an appointment.

Robert Rhodes

With a successful background in law, courtrooms, wrestling, rugby and jujitsu, Robert Rhodes’s nature is well-suited for argument and litigation. Mr. Rhodes knows how to talk clearly and directly to his clients, adversaries and to the Court. His common sense, straight talk and experience put his clients immediately at ease. Mr. Rhodes does not do anything half way and you will sense this when you meet him. Read more >>