In the Washington State criminal code, no single offense has as many degrees, definitions and ways to be carried out than Assault. Defined as an “offensive and unwanted touching of another person”, assault carries such a vague and broad definition that it can lead to a number of interpretations and uneven enforcement. 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.
It is important to understand that the alleged victim is not the person pressing charges. That individual is defined as a “witness” or “the complaining witness.” They do not have the power to “press charges” or to “dismiss” the case. Once the police have written a report, it will be forwarded to the prosecuting authority who has jurisdiction. This can either be a municipal court or district court prosecutor if the allegations fall into the misdemeanor classifications, or the superior court prosecutors if the charges are felonies.
Categories of Assault
The varying degrees of assault is 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. There are five varying degrees of assault ranging on one end from a gross misdemeanor if the contact alleged is relatively minor all the way up to four different designations of felonies. The variations are based upon:
- The intent or mindset of the defendant
- The manner in which the assault was carried out
- The relationship of the alleged victim to the defendant
- The outcome and seriousness of any injuries sustained
- The criminal history of the defendant at the time of the alleged assault
As each degree can be significantly different, both in terms of its elements and consequences, they are given separate treatment on subsequent pages. Follow the links provided for more information on the specific charge you are interested in.
Domestic Violence Assault
Adding the designation of “domestic violence” to an assault charge does not in and of itself change the nature of the crime or degree of the crime that is alleged. What does change is the manner in which the court and prosecutor treat the case, the conditions imposed on a defendant prior to trial and the consequences to the defendant should there be a finding of guilt. For complete information on what to expect in a domestic violence case.
Domestic Violence assault charges garner more attention from Washington courts and prosecutors than any other DV related cases. If you have been charged with an assault DV charge or believe that you may be, do not hesitate to contact one of the Washington domestic violence attorneys at Milios Defense. We can help you.