State v. Redmond

In State v. Redmond, 150 Wn.2d 489, 78 P.3d 1001 (Wash. 2003) the Washington Supreme Court held that a defendant is entitled to a no duty to retreat instruction when the jury might objectively conclude that retreat is a reasonable alternative to the use of force in self-defense. Redmond involved a fight in a high school parking lot between the defendant, a former student, and a current student. Id. at 1002. During the fight, the defendant punched the other student and fractured his jaw. Id. As a result, the defendant was charged with second-degree assault. Id. At trial, each party alleged that the other was the initial aggressor and provided witnesses to support their allegations. Id. There was also evidence that the defendant could have easily retreated, but did not attempt to do so. Id. The defendant requested a no duty to retreat instruction as part of his theory of self-defense. Id. The trial court, however, refused to give the instruction, stating the case did not legitimately raise the issue of retreat. Id. On appeal, the Washington Supreme Court reversed, holding that the defendant was entitled to a no duty to retreat instruction because without it, the jury may speculate whether or not the defendant should have retreated. Id. at 1004. The court noted that "the law is well-settled that there is no duty to retreat when a person is assaulted in a place where he or she has a right to be. An instruction should be given to this effect when sufficient evidence is presented to support it." Id. at 1003. The court further noted that where there is a possibility that the jury may speculate regarding a defendant's opportunity to retreat, the jury should be instructed that "the law does not require a person to retreat." Id. at 1004.