Homicide by abuse is the crime where someone causes the death of a particular vulnerable person, like a child, dependent adult, or developmentally disabled individual. The offense is a serious felony under Washington law. If you or a loved one is facing a homicide by abuse charge, it is critical that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney for help.

What is Homicide by Abuse?

Under RCW 9A.32.055, a person commits homicide by abuse if, under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to human life, the person:

  1. Causes the death of a “vulnerable person,” and
  2. Does so after having committed previous patterns of assault or torture upon the same victim.

For purposes of this statute, a “vulnerable person” includes a:

  • Child or person under 16 years of age,
  • Developmentally disabled person, or
  • Dependent adult.

Common examples of this crime include:

  • a defendant causing the death of a child by means of child abuse, and
  • a defendant failing to provide an elderly person with food and water, and as a result, the person dies.

What are the Penalties?

Homicide by abuse is a Class A felony under Washington law (as opposed to a misdemeanor offense).

The maximum penalty for the crime is:

  • confinement in state prison for life, and/or
  • a fine of $50,000.

Can a Defendant Raise a Legal Defense?

Fortunately, people accused of homicide by abuse can challenge the accusation with a legal defense. For example, sometimes a defendant can avoid a guilty conviction by proving that he/she caused a vulnerable person’s death by accident. The defense usually requires the accused to show that he/she:

  • had no criminal intent to do harm,
  • was not acting negligently at the time of the death, and
  • was otherwise engaged in lawful activity at the time of the death.

Further, an accused can often contest a charge by showing that law enforcement violated one of his/her constitutional rights. For example, if police obtained evidence in a case via an unlawful search or seizure, a judge may rule to reduce a charge or even drop a charge altogether.

Contact Black & Askerov for Help

While a defendant can raise a legal defense to challenge a homicide by abuse charge, it will take a skilled criminal defense attorney to raise the best defense. The experienced homicide attorneys at Black & Askerov have over 25 years of combined experience defending clients on homicide charges. Our Seattle criminal defense lawyers have the skill and commitment that makes all the difference in these types of cases. Our attorneys will fight tooth and nail for you at every step of your case. Contact us now to get the legal help you deserve!