Washington Homicide Lawyers

Homicide by Abuse

Homicide by Abuse is a newer statute intended to assist the State in prosecuting persons it believes acted or failed to act in a manner that caused the death of a child or vulnerable person. Even though Homicide by Abuse doesn’t sound as serious as “Murder” or even “Manslaughter,” it is actually a very serious charge. A person convicted of Homicide by Abuse pursuant to RCW 9A.32.055 could face a sentence of roughly 50 years in prison. If you or a loved one is facing a charge of Homicide by Abuse it is crucial that you immediately reach out to a top attorney – or team of top attorneys – with substantial expertise in all manner of homicide defense. The homicide team at Puget Law Group – lead by attorneys Jared Ausserer and Casey Arbenz have experience that is second to none in Western Washington.

To prove the Class A Felony of Homicide by Abuse, the prosecution must show that, under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to human life, the person causes the death of a child or person under sixteen years of age, a developmentally disabled person, or a dependent adult, and the person has previously engaged in a pattern or practice of assault or torture of said child, person under sixteen years of age, developmentally disabled person, or dependent person.

A “dependent adult” is a person who, because of physical or mental disability, or because of extreme advanced age, is dependent upon another person to provide the basic necessities of life.

Persons put in the position of having to care for children or disabled adults oftentimes deal with stressors well-beyond what anybody can reasonably handle. Thus, allegations of Homicide by Abuse need to be addressed on a case-by-case basis and defended aggressively. If you or a loved one is facing a Homicide by Abuse allegation, do not hesitate to contact PLG’s Homicide Team.

Vehicular Homicide and Homicide by Watercraft

If you or a loved one is involved in a car or boating accident that leads to the death of another, it is crucial that you take the matter seriously. The State has wide latitude to file criminal charges when someone is killed in a motor vehicle (cars, trucks, RV’s, motorcycles, etc.) or boating accident (motor boats, sail boats, jet ski’s, etc.). There are three general approaches the State can prosecute such cases – the State can allege the operator was

  • under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or
  • acting recklessly (with willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property), or
  • disregarding the safety of others.

While the laws for Vehicular Homicide and Homicide by Watercraft are identical, the potential prison sentences are somewhat disparate. For example:

Vehicular Homicide under the first prong is the most serious – as it carries a standard sentence prison range of 78-280 months. It also carries with it a very serious sentencing enhancement that requires 24 additional months to the served for each prior DUI conviction.

Vehicular Homicide under the “reckless prong” as it is known carries the same 78-280 sentencing range but does not include the provision for additional time associated with prior DUI convictions.

Vehicular Homicide under the Disregard for the Safety of Others prong (DSO) carries a standard prison sentencing range of 15-116 months but like the reckless prong, does not require the additional sentencing enhancement associated with prior DUI convictions.

Homicide by Watercraft under the Under the Influence prong carries with it a standard prison sentencing range of 31-171 months.

If convicted of Homicide by Watercraft under the Reckless prong a defendant faces a standard prison sentencing range of 21-144 months.

Finally, if you or a loved one is convicted of Watercraft Homicide under the DSO prong – i.e. disregarding the safety of others – you could face a prison sentence range of 15-116 months.

Importantly, under the statute, Homicide by Watercraft is not a charge that can be levied against the driver of a boat who is towing another and somehow causes the death of the person being towed.

If you, a friend, or a member of your facility is facing a charge of Vehicular Homicide or Homicide by Watercraft you need a team of lawyers with diverse backgrounds and experience. It is absolutely crucial that you hire lawyers with both extensive experience defending drivers accused of operating their vehicles under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, as well as defending those accused of other felonies – specifically homicides. Hiring a lawyer who primarily defends DUI’s in District or Municipal Court simply will not cut it. Similarly, hiring a lawyer who primarily focuses on felonies would be a mistake. Vehicular Homicide and Homicide by Watercraft require expert knowledge of the science behind breath and blood testing, experience suppressing Field Sobriety Tests and Search Warrants, and skills related to forensics. No firm in Washington has more experience in both DUI and serious felony criminal defense. Give us a call for a free consultation.

Controlled Substances Homicide

In Washington, a person accused of giving or selling drugs to a person who dies after consumption could be charged with Controlled Substances Homicide. For example, if you were to sell heroin to a person who overdosed and died, you could be charged. Police and prosecutors have wide latitude to utilize the Controlled Substances Homicide Law, which is codified within the Revised Code of Washington chapter 69.50.415. Specifically, the law states:

  1. A person who unlawfully delivers a controlled substance in violation of RCW 69.50.401(2) (a), (b), or (c) which controlled substance is subsequently used by the person to whom it was delivered, resulting in the death of the user, is guilty of controlled substances homicide.
  2. Controlled substances homicide is a class B felony punishable according to chapter 9A.20 RCW.

Controlled Substances Homicide is a very serious charge. If convicted, you could face a prison sentence of 51-120 months. If you or a loved one is charged with such a serious crime, you need an office of attorneys with experience with murder/homicide charges but also substantial experience with drug crimes. Puget Law Group is made up of dedicated defense attorneys – six of whom began their careers as prosecutors. Puget Law Group is the only firm in Washington state who can make that claim. As such, ourt attorneys are familiar with the ins and outs of the Controlled Substances Act and its relationship with murder and homicide charges.

The leader of our homicide team, Jared Ausserer served as the Chief of the “Homicide Division” of the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office before being promoted to “Chief Criminal Deputy.” In that role he was the supervisor for the entire criminal division of the office. The heads of both the Drugs/Vice and Murder/Homicide units reported directly to Jared. Simply put, there is not better firm to assist a person charged with Controlled Substance Homicide. If you have any questions about this or any other criminal charge, do not hesitate to give Puget Law Group a call.


Homicide charges can be almost as serious as a Murder charge, depending on the circumstances involved. But defenses such as Self Defense, Defense of Others, Justifiable Homicide and Excusable Homicide, in the hands of the right defense team, may be available to fend off such a charge.

If you or a loved one are facing a Homicide allegation, be sure to reach out to Jared Ausserer and Casey Arbenz – the leaders of the Puget Law Group Murder Homicide defense team. With 30 years combined experience working on Homicide cases, as both prosecution and defense, Jared and Casey are the team you want in your corner if facing a Homicide allegation. Jared served for more than two years has the “Homicide Division Chief” in the Pierce County District Attorney’s Office before being promoted to “Chief Criminal Deputy.” Casey worked alongside a number of brilliant defense attorneys as both a trial and appellate lawyer for more than 10 years before joining PLG. Put simply, you will not find a finer team of professionals to fight your Homicide charge.

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Highly satisfied with the experience of hiring an attorney at Puget Law Group. I had been calling around a few places to hire a attorney for my boyfriend who had been arrested on driving with a suspended license that ended him going to jail, and also old DUIs that were in three different counties, and a lot of attorneys not really wanting to take on the cases due to them being old.

My attorney gave me a phone call that made everything look like a good change was going to happen. He was straightforward and responsive on how everything was going, and on top of keeping me posted and aware of any changes along the way. He was determined to have a change in the cases he had took on; he was able to get my boyfriend less jail time and his cases successfully closed. Again, I highly recommend hiring them.”

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