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Degree of Injury as it Relates to Assault Charges in WA State

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In the state of Washington, assault charges are the result of unwanted or offensive physical contact. This contact doesn’t have to necessarily cause an injury, but if “offensive” to any reasonable person, a charge of assault may be brought.  Even in situations where the victim does not press charges, the prosecution may proceed with filing charges. If the individual is convicted of assault charges, then they my face serious consequences including jail or prison, extensive fines and even the loss of their current or future employment.

The Seriousness of a WA Assault Charge

In addition to filing the charges, the prosecution will determine the degree of assault in charging the defendant. Even if there are not any witnesses to the alleged assault, or evidence supporting that it happened, a person may still face serious charges.

Types of Assault and Injuries They Cause

The types of assault that a person may be charged with in the state of Washington include:

  • Assault in the First Degree: One assaults another with a firearm or any deadly weapon or by any force or means likely to produce great bodily harm or death; or administers, exposes, or transmits to or causes to be taken by another, poison, the human immunodeficiency virus or any other destructive or noxious substance; or assaults another and inflicts great bodily harm. Considered a Class A felony and punishable by 93-123 months in prison with fines up to $50,000 for a first-time offender and life in prison for a repeat offender.
  • Assault in the Second Degree: A person is guilty of assault in the second degree if he or she, under circumstances not amounting to assault in the first degree: Intentionally assaults another and thereby recklessly inflicts substantial bodily harm or torture, or causes substantial bodily harm to an unborn quick child by intentionally and unlawfully inflicting any injury upon the mother of such child; or assaults another with a deadly weapon; with intent to inflict bodily harm, administers to or causes to be taken by another, poison or any other destructive or noxious substance; or assaults another by strangulation or suffocation. Considered a Class B felony and punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine, this charge is filed if there are substantial injuries, accusation of strangulation or choking or if a deadly weapon was used.
  • Assault in the Fourth Degree: This is the most common type of assault charged in Washington and is considered a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.
  • Domestic Violence: If the Domestic Violence designation will attach if there is a domestic relationship between you and the victim, which will increase the severity of potential consequences.  Domestic is defined as family or household members means spouses, domestic partners, former spouses, former domestic partners, persons who have a child in common regardless of whether they have been married or have lived together at any time, persons sixteen years of age or older who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past and who have or have had a dating relationship, and persons sixteen years of age or older with whom a person sixteen years of age or older has or has had a dating relationship.

A conviction with the DV designation will include the penalties of the assault charge as well as a loss of firearms, possibly DV treatment and a no-contact order, prohibiting contact between accused and the alleged victim.

  • Self Defense: An Affirmative Defense to Assault Even if the other person was injured, the defendant may have been acting in self-defense. This defense can be used if the individual was attacked, believed they were going to be attacked, used force while defending someone else, or were defending real estate or personal property.

 If you have been charged with assault in the state of Washington, the best thing you can do is speak with an attorney. Even if you haven’t been charged but anticipate you may be, contact the law offices of Kim E. Hunter today to discuss your case and receive quality and compassionate defense services.


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