State v. Shelley

State v. Shelley, 929 P.2d 489 Wash. App. (1997)

Facts: During a physical, un-officiated basketball contest between Jason Shelley and Mario Gonzalez, Shelley intentionally punched Gonzalez in the jaw, according to a statement given to the detective who interviewed Shelly one week following the incident. As a result of the punch Gonzalez’s jaw was broken in three places and required emergency surgery involving wiring his jaw shut for six weeks. The court charged Shelley with second-degree assault, and at trial, Shelley tried to assert the defense of consent. The trial court refused the request and convicted Shelley of second-degree assault.

Procedural History: Shelley appealed. The Washington Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction.

Issue: Are there limits to conduct in which consent can be a defense to an assault when both parties are involved in an athletic contest?

Holding: The court affirmed the decision of the lower court (vote N/A) in that the magnitude and dangerousness of Shelley’s actions denied the possibility of consent to be used as a defense to an assault.

Reasoning: (Grosse, J.)The court of appeals had to determine whether consent was a defense to an intentional assault during a sporting event and turned to the Model Penal Code and existing case law. The court determined that consent is a defense to some assaults, but the defense is limited to acts that are foreseeable and flow from the rules of the game. There is nothing in the game of basketball that would permit consent as a defense to such conduct. The victim does not consent to a broken jaw simply by participating in an un-officiated, informal basketball game. There is no question that Shelley intended to hit Gonzalez and the magnitude and dangerousness of Shelley’s actions were beyond the limits of foreseeable behavior in the athletic contest.

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