Assault is defined as an "offensive and unwanted touching" of another person. Obviously such a vague and broad definition can lead to a number of interpretations. In the arena of domestic disputes, almost anytime one person places his or her hands on another, and the contact is uninvited, if reported to the police it will be treated as an assault. And once the report is made, it will be up to the accused to defend his or her actions.
The varying degrees of assault are defined in Chapter 9A.36 of the Revised Code of Washington. Whether or not the alleged assault is also a crime of domestic violence (DV) is determined by the relationship between the parties. An assault can range on one end from a gross misdemeanor if the contact alleged is relatively minor all the way up to three different designations of felonies. If you have questions about assault DV charges contact one of the Washington domestic violence attorneys at Milios Defense.
Assault in the Fourth Degree
Assault 4th Degree (Assault 4), is a gross misdemeanor. RCW 9A.36.041 As such, it is punishable by up to a maximum of 365 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. There are no minimum jail and fine penalties. Like all other crimes of DV, a conviction for Assault 4 will carry certain mandatory consequences that would include treatment and a loss of other certain civil liberties. See Mandatory DV Consequences. Some municipal jurisdictions refer to Assault in the Fourth Degree as "Simple Assault" or just "Assault". All of these designations simply mean that the charge is a gross misdemeanor that will be prosecuted in either a district or municipal court.
Assault in the Third Degree
Assault 3rd Degree (Assault 3) is a Class C felony. RCW 9A.36.031 It is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. There is a standard or presumptive sentencing range that is dependent upon the criminal history of the accused. Again, there are collateral consequences that would apply to both a DV related conviction and a felony conviction. While there are several different ways a person could commit the crime of Assault 3, in the domestic violence arena there are really only two categories that apply. Section (d) of the statute provides, "with criminal negligence, causes bodily harm to another person by means of a weapon or other instrument or thing likely to produce bodily harm." And section (f) which provides "with criminal negligence, causes bodily harm accompanied by substantial pain that extends for a period sufficient to cause considerable suffering."
Assault in the Second Degree
Assault 2nd Degree (Assault 2) is a Class B felony. RCW 9A.36.021 It is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. Again, along with other mandatory consequences, there is a standard sentencing range that is affected by prior criminal history. There are several different acts that could fall within this statute:
(a) Intentionally assaults another and thereby recklessly inflicts substantial bodily harm; or
(b) Intentionally and unlawfully causes substantial bodily harm to an unborn quick child by intentionally and unlawfully inflicting any injury upon the mother of such child; or
(c) Assaults another with a deadly weapon; or
(d) With intent to inflict bodily harm, administers to or causes to be taken by another, poison or any other destructive or noxious substance; or
(e) With intent to commit a felony, assaults another; or
(f) Knowingly inflicts bodily harm which by design causes such pain or agony as to be the equivalent of that produced by torture; or
(g) Assaults another by strangulation.
Assault in the First Degree
Assault 1st Degree (Assault 1) is a Class A felony. RCW 9A.36.011 It is punishable by up to life in prison and a $50,000 fine. Assault 1 is committed if the a person, with intent to commit great bodily harm, assaults another with a firearm or other deadly weapon; or assaults another and does inflict great bodily harm.
Domestic Violence assault charges garner more attention of Washington courts and prosecutors than any other DV related cases. It's probably fair to say that DV assault cases are treated more seriously and more harshly than any other gross misdemeanor allegation, period. If you have been charged with an assault DV charge or belive that you may be, do not hesitate to contact a Washington DV assault lawyer.