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. 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:
- Intentionally assaulting another and recklessly inflicting substantial bodily harm
- Intentionally and unlawfully causing substantial bodily harm to an unborn quick child by intentionally and unlawfully inflicting any injury upon the mother of such child
- Assaulting another with a deadly weapon
- Poisoning another with intent to inflict bodily harm
- With intent to commit a felony, assaults another
- Knowingly inflicting bodily harm designed to cause agonizing pain akin to torture
- Assaulting another by strangulation or suffocation
Assault Two – Strangulation or Suffocation
The most commonly filed subsection of Assault 2 in domestic violence cases is the last one listed above; assault by way of strangulation or suffocation. Amended in 2007, the State of Washington added assault by strangulation to the felony Assault in the Second Degree statute as a means of increasing the maximum punishment for those convicted of that act. Prior to the amendment, a felony could essentially only be charged for strangulation if it resulted in substantial bodily harm. In other words, since that was much more difficult to prove, assault by strangulation was usually filed as the gross misdemeanor of Assault in the Fourth Degree or Simple Assault. Now, almost any investigation into a domestic violence assault allegation will include a question to the alleged victim along the lines of, “were you ever strangled or at any time did you have trouble breathing.” If the answer is “yes”, an arrest will be made and the person will be detained and investigated for the offense of Assault 2.
If there is no allegation of strangulation or suffocation, Second Degree Assault will only be charged if there is evidence of substantial bodily harm, use of a deadly weapon or poison, intent to commit another felony during the alleged assault or infliction of torturous pain. Regardless of the reason for which Assault 2 has been charged, the penalties for assault 2 are the same.
Second Degree Assault Penalties
Assault 2 has a felony seriousness ranking score of four (4). Upon conviction, the standard sentencing range for a person with no criminal history would be a jail sentence of between 3-9 months. Because it is a violent offense there would be no eligibility for electronic home monitoring and the sentence would have to be served in jail. Also, with even a moderate felony or domestic violence criminal history one’s offender score could easily rise to the level of requiring a prison sentence if convicted. Finally, Assault 2 is considered a “most serious offense” under Washington law meaning that it would count as a strike for purposes of determining persistent offender (Three Strikes and You’re Out) status.
Clearly, Second Degree Assault is an extremely serious offense. It is not, however, always easy for the state to prove. It is also, in many cases, not so clearly distinguishable from the non-felony charge of Fourth Degree Assault. That means an attorney practiced and experience in defending people accused of this crime can very often be successful in defending or mitigating against the more serious ramifications of this charge. If you have been charged with or are being investigated for Assault 2, don’t hesitate to contact the attorneys at Milios Defense. We can help.