In Washington State, Assault is defined as “physical harm” by RCW 9A.36. In its most basic definition, Assault can be defined as any intentional offensive or harmful touching. Such touching does not need to cause injury to be considered an assault.
Assault may be a gross misdemeanor, but many assault crimes are felony offenses. People convicted of these crimes can receive lengthy prison sentences and be ordered to pay thousands of dollars in fines. The Law Offices of Kim E. Hunter, PLLC aggressively defends clients accused of assault related crimes. Our firm can work to help you possibly get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed.
Attorney Kim E. Hunter has received numerous distinctions in her years of service.
- She has won the Washington State Bar Association’s Pro Bono Award every year since 2004.
- She was listed as a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers Magazine from 2010 to 2015.
- In 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, she was named as a Washington Super Lawyer, a prestigious honor that reflects her ongoing commitment to provide nothing but the best service for her clients.
- She has a 10/10 exceptionally rated lawyer by AVVO, an independent firm that rates lawyers statewide.
Contact Kim Hunter for a free consultation. Call 253-709-5050 today!
What Are The Laws Regarding Assault in Washington?
Four degrees of assault crimes are established in the Revised Code of Washington. The four degrees are classified as follows:
Assault in the First Degree, Revised Code of Washington § 9A.36.011
A person commits first-degree assault if they, with intent to inflict great bodily harm, assault another person with a firearm or any deadly weapon or by any force or means likely to produce great bodily harm or death. A person also commits first-degree assault if they assault another person and inflict great bodily harm or expose another person to poison, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), or any other destructive or noxious substance. Assault in the first degree is a class A felony.
Assault in the Second Degree, Revised Code of Washington § 9A.36.021
A person commits second-degree assault if they intentionally assault another person and recklessly inflict substantial bodily harm. Second-degree assault crimes also include causing significant physical harm to an unborn child by inflicting injury upon the mother, assaulting another person with a deadly weapon, or knowingly inflicting bodily harm equivalent to torture. An assault of another person by strangulation or suffocation and an assault that involves the intent to commits a felony is also second-degree assault. Assault in the second degree is a class B felony, but the crime becomes a class A felony if there is a finding of sexual motivation.
Assault in the Third Degree, Revised Code of Washington § 9A.36.031
A person commits third-degree assault when they assault members of certain protected classes. Occupations listed in this statute include court officers, transit operators or drivers, immediate supervisors of transit operators or drivers, mechanics, security officers, school bus drivers, firefighters, other employees of fire departments, peace officers, nurses, physicians, healthcare providers, judicial officers, court-related employees, county clerks, county clerk’s employees, and people located in courthouse settings. Assault in the third degree is a class C felony.
Assault in the Fourth Degree, Revised Code of Washington § 9A.36.041
A person commits assault in the fourth degree if they assault another person under circumstances not amounting to assault in the first, second, or third degree, or custodial assault. Assault in the fourth degree is a gross misdemeanor, except that a fourth-degree assault in which domestic violence is pleaded is a class C felony if the person has two or more prior adult convictions within 10 years for any of the following offenses: repetitive domestic violence offense; harassment; assault in the third degree; assault in the second degree; assault in the first degree; or an out-of-state comparable offense.
Laws Regarding Assault of a Child
The Revised Code of Washington also contains three degrees of crimes involving assault of a child. These crimes are classified as follows:
Assault of a Child in the First Degree, Revised Code of Washington § 9A.36.011
A person 18 years of age or older commits assault of a child in the first degree if the child is under the age of 13, and the person commits the crime of assault in the first degree against the child, or intentionally assaults the child and either recklessly inflicts great bodily harm or causes substantial bodily harm and the alleged offender has previously engaged in a pattern or practice either of assaulting the child which has resulted in bodily harm. Assault of a child in the first degree is a class A felony.
Assault of a Child in the Second Degree, Revised Code of Washington § 9A.36.021
A person 18 years of age or older commits assault of a child in the second degree if the child is under the age of 13 and the person commits the crime of assault in the second degree against a child or intentionally assaults the child and causes bodily harm and the alleged offender has previously engaged in a pattern or practice either of assaulting the child which has resulted in bodily harm. Assault of a child in the second degree is a class B felony.
Assault of a Child in the Third Degree, Revised Code of Washington § 9A.36.031
A person 18 years of age or older commits assault of a child in the third degree if the child is under the age of 13 and the person commits the crime of assault in the third degree against the child. Assault of a child in the third degree is a class C felony.
Custodial Assault, Revised Code of Washington § 9A.36.100
Under this law, a person commits custodial assault if they assault a full- or part-time staff member or volunteer, any educational personnel, any personal service provider, or any vendor or agent thereof at any juvenile corrections institution or local juvenile detention facilities or any adult corrections institution or local adult detention facilities. Custodial assault is a class C felony.
What are the penalties?
The consequences of an assault conviction will depend on how the alleged offender has been classified. In general, the statutory maximums for assault crimes are as follows:
- Up to 364 days in county jail;
- Fine of up to $5,000.
Class C Felony
- Up to five years in prison;
- Fine of up to $10,000.
Class B Felony
- Up to 10 years in prison;
- Fine of up to $20,000.
Class A Felony
- Up to life in prison;
- Fine of up to $50,000.
Fines and imprisonment are the immediate consequences of being convicted of assault in Washington. It is essential to keep in mind that people who are convicted of assault can face many additional challenges after their release because of the burden of having a criminal record.
Defending Against Assault Charges
One of the most common defenses against assault crimes is to claim self-defense or the protection of others. Self-defense in Washington is lawful so long as it is used by a person who reasonably believes that they are about to be injured and the force is not more than is necessary.
Washington Pattern Jury Instructions–Criminal (WPIC) § 17.02 establishes that it is a defense to a charge of assault that the force used in defense was lawful. The use of force upon or toward the person of another is legal when used by a person who reasonably believes that they are about to be injured or by someone lawfully aiding a person who they reasonably believe is about to be hurt, and when the force is not more than is necessary.
The state, city, or county has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the force used, attempted, offered to be used by the defendant was not lawful. In most cases, legal use of force results in assault charges being dismissed.
Contact Us For A Free Consultation
If you’ve been accused of assault in Washington, it’s important that you get help from an experienced attorney right away. Contact us for a free consultation today! 253-709-5050