Appeals Courts Stands Behind Man who Stood his Ground

In a recent “Stand Your Ground” case, Tommy Villanueva, a Spokane resident, was acquitted of assault after a jury found he acted in self-defense.  The jury further found that Mr. Villanueva was entitled to reimbursement of costs incurred in mounting his defense.  Mr. Villanueva lost his job as a result of his arrest.  He therefor claimed lost wages as part of his reimbursement.  The prosecution disputed Mr. Villanueva’s right to receive lost wages.

See New York Times Article

Under Washington State law, a defendant who successfully mounts a self-defense claim is entitled to reimbursement of costs based on the fact that he acted lawfully in defending himself:

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.

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.

Full text of statute RCW 9A.16.110

In opposing the lost wages, the prosecution argued that it was only responsible for lost wages after charges were formally filed.  And because Mr. Villanueva was fired after he was arrested, but before charges were filed, the prosecution need not pay his lost wages.

The Washington Court of Appeals soundly rejected the prosecution’s argument.  The Court explained that because Mr. Villanueva acted lawfully in defending himself from physical harm, it was incumbent upon the government to restore Mr. Villanueva to the position he was in before he was arrested.  But for the government’s actions, Mr. Villanueva would still be employed at the Spokane manufacturing plant where he was an assembler.   Furthermore, because the prosecution had brought this appeal challenging the award of lost wages, the prosecution was responsible for all of Mr. Villanueva’s appellate costs as well.

Dixon & Cannon, Ltd. attorneys are experienced criminal defense attorneys and are knowledgeable in self-defense and Stand Your Ground laws.  If you or a loved one is charged with a crime, don’t hesitate to call Dixon & Cannon, Ltd. at (206) 957-2247

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