State v. Chaten

In State v. Chaten, 84 Wn. App. 85, 925 P.2d 631 (1996), the State argued that the liberal standard applied when a defendant made a challenge after the State rested. After rejecting that argument, the court stated it applied the strict preverdict standard to the challenge by Defendant Chaten. Additionally, although the court's decision was based upon cases decided under the liberal standard of construction, Division One acknowledged it rested its decision upon those cases because their analysis supported a similar conclusion applying a strict preverdict construction. The Court concluded that a charging document alleging assault in the second degree without expressly alleging the essential element of "intent" was constitutionally sufficient, even under strict preverdict construction. "Because an assault is commonly understood as an intentional act," a mere allegation of assault does not, by definition, omit the element of intent. Id. at 87. In Chaten, the court relied upon analogous cases applying the liberal standard of construction for postverdict challenges to charging documents, but nonetheless concluded "the analysis in these cases supports a similar conclusion applying the more strict preverdict construction." Id.