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Washington State Self Defense Law

RCW 9A.16.110. Defending against violent crime Reimbursement

(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.

(3) Notwithstanding a finding that a defendant's actions were justified by self-defense, if the trier of fact also determines that the defendant was engaged in criminal conduct substantially related to the events giving rise to the charges filed against the defendant the judge may deny or reduce the amount of the award. In determining the amount of the award, the judge shall also consider the seriousness of the initial criminal conduct.
Nothing in this section precludes the legislature from using the sundry claims process to grant an award where none was granted under this section or to grant a higher award than one granted under this section.

(4) Whenever the issue of self-defense under this section is decided by a judge, the judge shall consider the same questions as must be answered in the special verdict under subsection (4) [(5)] of this section.

(5) Whenever the issue of self-defense under this section has been submitted to a jury, and the jury has found the defendant not guilty, the court shall instruct the jury to return a special verdict in substantially the following form:

answer yes or no
1. Was the finding of not guilty based upon self-defense? . . . . .
2. If your answer to question 1 is no, do not answer the remaining question.
3. If your answer to question 1 is yes, was the defendant:
a. Protecting himself or herself? . . . . .
b. Protecting his or her family? . . . . .
c. Protecting his or her property? . . . . .
d. Coming to the aid of another who was in imminent danger of a heinous crime? . . . . .
e. Coming to the aid of another who was the victim of a heinous crime? . . . . .
f. Engaged in criminal conduct substantially related to the events giving rise to the crime with which the defendant is charged? . . . . .

[1995 c 44 1; 1989 c 94 1; 1977 ex.s. c 206 8. Formerly RCW 9.01.200.]


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