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Thread: Does RCW 9A.16.110 cover civil action?

  1. #1
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    Does the following RCW cover civil action, or just criminal? I would think both, considering it specifically says "no legal jeopardy of ANY kind whatsoever", but I'd like to here the thoughts of others as well.

    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? . .


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    Opt-Out Members BigDave's Avatar
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    A little reading on cases with some reference as to how this RCW is applied it appears for one it requires one to be charged with a crime, found not guilty by the means of self defense and the State is the only one charged with paying these cost.
    With the State being the one only addressed here and another court with out jurisdiction over the court cannot order the State to pay cost.

    It would be nice if they did.

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    Regular Member skiingislife725's Avatar
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    I came across this RCW when I googled "civil liability self-defense rcw". From what I read of it, it states that one cannot sue for damages if the person injured or killed was engaged in the commission of a felony at the time.
    RCW 4.24.420 - Action by person committing a felony — Defense — Actions under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983.
    It is a complete defense to any action for damages for personal injury or wrongful death that the person injured or killed was engaged in the commission of a felony at the time of the occurrence causing the injury or death and the felony was a proximate cause of the injury or death. However, nothing in this section shall affect a right of action under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983.

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    Regular Member Bobarino's Avatar
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    Aaron, I believe you're right. If you are not charged because it was deemed in defense of self or others you cannot be sued in civil court. If you are charged and exonerated by reason of self defense, the state will pay your legal fees.

    In a word to your original question, yes.

    Bobby

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    Bobarino wrote:
    Aaron, I believe you're right. If you are not charged because it was deemed in defense of self or others you cannot be sued in civil court. If you are charged and exonerated by reason of self defense, the state will pay your legal fees.

    In a word to your original question, yes.

    Bobby
    Makes sense. That's what I made out of it as well.

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    Opt-Out Members BigDave's Avatar
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    Aaron1124 wrote:
    Bobarino wrote:
    Aaron, I believe you're right. If you are not charged because it was deemed in defense of self or others you cannot be sued in civil court. If you are charged and exonerated by reason of self defense, the state will pay your legal fees.

    In a word to your original question, yes.

    Bobby
    Makes sense. That's what I made out of it as well.
    Have either of you attempted to do any legal research what so ever besides Google? or best guess? Come on guys we need to do better.

    Here is a link and search for 9A.16.110 and Civil and see what you come up with.

    http://www.mrsc.org/wa/courts/index_dtSearch.html
    • Being prepared is to prepare, this is our responsibility.
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    BigDave wrote:
    Aaron1124 wrote:
    Bobarino wrote:
    Aaron, I believe you're right. If you are not charged because it was deemed in defense of self or others you cannot be sued in civil court. If you are charged and exonerated by reason of self defense, the state will pay your legal fees.

    In a word to your original question, yes.

    Bobby
    Makes sense. That's what I made out of it as well.
    Have either of you attempted to do any legal research what so ever besides Google? or best guess?

    Here is a link and search for 9A.16.110 and Civil and see what you come up with.

    http://www.mrsc.org/wa/courts/index_dtSearch.html
    Thanks for the information.

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    Opt-Out Members BigDave's Avatar
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    92 Wn. App. 555, STATE v. JONES
    http://www.mrsc.org/wa/courts/index_dtSearch.html

    It appears if you have gone through a criminal trial and was found not guilty by the means of self defense and found yourself in a Civil trial then it appears that the State may be liable to pay your defense fees.

    So if you went into a civil trial with out being charged and found not guilty by the means of Self Defense it appears the State may have to pay the cost as well. But you may find a rough road to haul to collect.


    I would like to hear a more definitive answer to this question though, and Marty has supplied that below, Thanks.

    I have grayed out the text as it is incorrect and to avoid confusion.


    The State employs the labels "criminal" and "civil" as a basis for arguing against this result. It urges that a defendant's "criminal defense end[s] with the 'not guilty verdict;'" that any remaining issues are "civil in nature, because they only concern the terms of the reimbursement award;" and thus that a defendant may not recover post-acquittal fees or costs under RCW 9A.16.110." In our view, however, these labels are of little use here. When the Legislature enacted RCW 9A.16.110, it injected into a narrow type of "criminal" case issues that are ordinarily "civil." As a result, it created a sui generis, hybrid type of proceeding that is neither entirely "criminal" nor entirely "civil." We decline to resolve the present problem by affixing either label, preferring instead to look at the Legislature's intent. The Legislature commanded the State to reimburse a defendant for reasonable fees and costs involved in "his or her defense." It did not say "his or her criminal defense," although it easily could have done so, and we think it was referring to the entire "defense" of the sui generis kind of case that RCW 9A.16.110 encompasses. Thus, we conclude that the State must reimburse for reasonable costs and fees incurred in this case, both before and after acquittal.
    • Being prepared is to prepare, this is our responsibility.
    • I am not your Mommy or Daddy and do not sugar coat it but I will tell you simply as how I see it, it is up to you on how you will or will not use it.
    • IANAL, all information I present is for your review, do your own homework.

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    Regular Member skiingislife725's Avatar
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    BigDave wrote:
    Have either of you attempted to do any legal research what so ever besides Google? or best guess? Come on guys we need to do better.

    Here is a link and search for 9A.16.110 and Civil and see what you come up with.

    http://www.mrsc.org/wa/courts/index_dtSearch.html
    If their google-fu was up to par they would have come up with this exact website. So much to learn grasshoppers.

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    Sorry ya'all. RCW 9A.16.110 does not apply to a civil tort claim filed against a person who shot them, (or in the case of State V. Jones, pointed a gun at them). References to "civil" in this ruling refers to the civil court process Jones had to go through to get the attorneys fees paid for his two criminal trials. Read the ruling carefully, and you will come to the same conclusion.

    The most compelling argument that it doesn't apply, is that the law only applies if one is found NOT GUILTY. There is no guilty or not guilty finding in a civil tort claim.

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    Regular Member skiingislife725's Avatar
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    9A.16.110 doesn't protect you from a civil case, but, Marty (or others...olypendrew?), does RCW 4.24.420 protect you from a civil case by the injured/killed party? No one really commented on that RCW so I'm curious what people are thinking on that statute.

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    skiingislife725 wrote:
    9A.16.110 doesn't protect you from a civil case, but, Marty (or others...olypendrew?), does RCW 4.24.420 protect you from a civil case by the injured/killed party? No one really commented on that RCW so I'm curious what people are thinking on that statute.
    Not sure, because I haven't researched the caselaw applicable to that statute. But, my reading of the statute means that you can't be sued if the guy committed a felony against you, but who determined if someone committed a felony against you? Only a judge or jury can decide that, so I would expect that after you successfully defending yourself in criminal court by reason of self defense, that would probably preclude the civil suit. But, if your case never got to a criminal trial, all the evidence is still open to interpretation, and only then at trial. So, absent a finding of not guilty by reason of self-defense, you are fair game for the civil suit. If at trial you can prove the guy you shot, (or pointed gun at) was also committing a felony against you, then you should be safe.

    My quick, off the cuffthoughts regarding the issue.

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    Opt-Out Members BigDave's Avatar
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    Marty thanks for replying and bringing a better understanding to this topic and I must plead guilty I wavered from my original position and post by not reading the entire case law.

    Dave
    • Being prepared is to prepare, this is our responsibility.
    • I am not your Mommy or Daddy and do not sugar coat it but I will tell you simply as how I see it, it is up to you on how you will or will not use it.
    • IANAL, all information I present is for your review, do your own homework.

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    Regular Member Bobarino's Avatar
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    Yes, thanks Marty. I was under the impression that "legal jeopardy of any kind whatsoever" included civil cases but I guess I was wrong. Good to know.

    Bobby

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    "Any kind" of really not "any kind" then?

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