Assault is one of Washington state’s most common criminal offenses, and it’s not hard to understand why. Any number of circumstances – a heated exchange at a bar, a road rage incident, a fistfight in the stands at a Seahawks game – can lead even the most level-headed people to lose their temper and strike or threaten to strike another person. This is the essence of assault – unwanted physical touching or putting someone in fear that they will be imminently harmed. While most people think this crime must involve actually making contact with or hurting someone (though that can certainly constitute assault), prosecutors can convict you of assault, and you can face severe penalties even if you never made physical contact with or injured the alleged victim.
Washington prosecutors take acts of violence – even threats of violence – with the utmost seriousness. If they believe you committed the crime of assault, they will aggressively pursue your conviction. No matter the nature of the assault charge, your future is at stake. Time behind bars, hefty fines, and a criminal record are just a few of the potential consequences that await you if you are found guilty of assault.
At Milios Defense, we know people sometimes suffer a regrettable lapse in judgment that leads to assault charges. We also know many people are wrongfully accused of assault when they were simply protecting themselves from another person’s actions or threats. Whatever your circumstances, you have rights, and you deserve an aggressive and committed defense lawyer in your corner after you’ve been charged with any assault offense. Given the consequences of an assault conviction, contacting us immediately after your arrest is perhaps the most important thing you can do to maximize the odds of a positive outcome.
Types of Washington State Assault Charges
There are four degrees of assault charges in Washington state and separate offenses for assaults against a child or a corrections officer. For all these offenses, the term “assault” can mean any of the following:
- An intentional, harmful, or offensive “unlawful touching.”
- An attempt to inflict bodily injury upon another person with unlawful force.
- Putting another person in apprehension of imminent harm, regardless of whether the actor actually intends to inflict harm.
A person commits the crime of assault in the first degree if, with intent to inflict great bodily harm, they do any of the following:
- Assault someone with a firearm or any other deadly weapon or by any force or means likely to produce great bodily harm or death.
- Transmit HIV to a child or vulnerable adult.
- Administer, expose, or transmit to or cause to be taken by another, poison or any other destructive or noxious substance.
- Assault another and inflict great bodily harm.
As a Class A felony, a conviction for first-degree assault can result in a sentence of life in prison and fines of up to $50,000.
Assault in the second degree involves any of the following circumstances not amounting to assault in the first degree and the person:
- Intentionally assaults another and thereby recklessly inflicts substantial bodily harm.
- Intentionally and unlawfully causes substantial bodily harm to a quick unborn child by intentionally and unlawfully inflicting any injury upon the mother of that child.
- 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 with intent to inflict bodily harm.
- With intent to commit a felony, assaults another.
- Knowingly inflicts bodily harm which by design causes such pain or agony as to be the equivalent of that produced by torture.
- Assaults another by strangulation or suffocation.
Most cases of second-degree assault are charged as a Class B felony which can result in a prison sentence of up to 10 years and fines of up to $20,000.
This offense involves assault on certain public officials and health care providers while they are engaged in their official duties or an assault that is either accompanied by substantial pain that causes considerable suffering or harm caused by using a weapon or other instrument likely to produce bodily harm.
The specific classes of victims that could lead to a third-degree assault charge include:
- Transit operators or bus drivers, including school bus drivers.
- Firefighters or law enforcement officers.
- Nurses, physicians, or other health care providers.
- Judicial officers, bailiffs, clerks, or other court officers.
A Class C felony, third-degree assault can result in up to five years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
Prosecutors can bring fourth-degree assault charges for an assault that does not constitute assault in the first, second, or third degree or custodial assault. Most fourth-degree assaults are gross misdemeanors that can lead to one year in jail and fines of up to $5,000.
Individuals facing assault charges may have one or more potential defenses available to them that their criminal defense attorney can assert to defeat or reduce the charges, including self-defense. At Milios Defense, we have extensive experience defending our clients against assault charges of all kinds. If you are facing an assault charge in Washington state, please contact us at 206-207-1067 or complete our online form to arrange your free initial consultation.