What Is Assault in Washington State?
Assault is defined as an intent crime. That means it’s not accidental but a crime in which one person deliberately and knowingly causes bodily harm to another. How severe the bodily harm was is a primary factor in determining how someone will be charged, but it’s not the only factor. Assault charges range from a gross misdemeanor up to a class A felony.
Some additional factors include whether the person causing the harm used a weapon (including firearms), virus, poison, or another type of substance. If the bodily harm involved choking, strangling, or sexual motivation can affect the charges. The person harmed can affect the charges, too, if they were a household or family member, police officer, nurse or doctor, or transit driver.
What Is Fourth-Degree Assault in Washington State?
A first-degree assault is the most serious charge and is considered a class A felony. The further down the list of assaults, the more the seriousness of the charge declines. Fourth-degree assault is the lowest level of assault and results in a gross misdemeanor, unlike the other three types of assault, which are different levels of felonies.
Fourth-degree assault is a widespread charge, as it doesn’t take much for a person to meet this level of harm. But it is a severe charge. The maximum sentence for fourth-degree assault is 364 days in the county jail and/or a fine of $5,000.
It’s important to note that fourth-degree assault is a common charge in a domestic violence situation. But when domestic violence is identified as part of the charge, it can add several issues and consequences, including moving the charge to at least a third-degree assault, a class C felony. This can happen when someone has multiple prior convictions for domestic violence-related crimes. This is an effort by the Washington State legislature to target repeat domestic violence offenders, especially those in close relationships, such as spouses, partners, and parents of children. That’s why an initial charge of fourth-degree assault may be changed to third-degree if any of these conditions apply.
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If you or someone you know has been charged with assault, call us at 253-383-3328 to talk with one of our criminal defense lawyers about the options for defense.