In the State of Washington, assault is treated as a serious, violent crime. A conviction can have severe, long-term repercussions. You could even go to jail. If you are charged with one of these crimes, you can’t afford to be represented by the wrong Seattle criminal defense lawyer.
What constitutes assault in the State of Washington? What are the various assault charges and the penalties for convictions? What steps should you take if you are charged with committing assault in the Seattle area? Those questions will be answered below.
Assault crimes in Washington are categorized by degree. The following is a list of the assault crimes recognized by state law:
- First-degree assault
- Second-degree assault
- Third-degree assault
- Fourth-degree assault (“simple” or misdemeanor assault)
- Custodial assault
- First-degree assault of a child
- Second-degree assault of a child
- Third-degree assault of a child
WHAT CONSTITUTES FIRST-DEGREE ASSAULT?
First-degree assault occurs when one person assaults another person with a deadly weapon or with means or force likely to cause great bodily harm or death. Exposing someone to poison, the HIV virus, or any deadly substance is also considered first-degree assault.
First-degree assault is categorized as a Class A felony in the state of Washington, punishable with up to life in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.
WHAT CONSTITUTES SECOND-DEGREE ASSAULT?
Second-degree assault happens when, in circumstances not constituting first-degree assault, any of the following occur:
1. One person assaults another person intentionally and causes substantial bodily harm.
2. Someone intentionally inflicts substantial bodily harm on an unborn child by inflicting an injury on the mother.
3. One person assaults another person using a deadly weapon or exposes another person to poison or to some other destructive substance.
4. One person assaults another while committing or attempting to commit another felony.
5. One person assaults another person by strangulation.
A second-degree assault that is found to be sexually motivated is treated as a Class A felony. Otherwise, second-degree assault is categorized as a Class B felony punishable upon conviction with up to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000.
WHAT CONSTITUTES THIRD-DEGREE ASSAULT?
Third-degree assault happens when, in circumstances not constituting first-degree or second-degree assault, any of the following occur:
1. An assault is committed with the intention of resisting a court order, preventing a lawful process, or resisting arrest.
2. An assault is committed against the employee of a private or public transit company, including public school bus services, while that employee is performing official duties.
3. Someone assaults a law enforcement officer or another employee of a police agency in the performance that person’s official duties, or someone assaults a law enforcement officer with a projectile stun gun.
4. An assault is committed against a firefighter, another fire department employee, or an employee at a county fire marshal’s office, a fire protection district, or a county fire prevention bureau while that employee is performing official duties.
5. Someone using a weapon or another instrument with criminal negligence causes great bodily harm to another person, or causes bodily harm with substantial pain that causes considerable suffering.
6. Someone assaults a doctor, nurse, or other healthcare provider performing healthcare duties.
Third-degree assault is categorized as a Class C felony punishable upon conviction with up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
WHAT CONSTITUTES FOURTH-DEGREE ASSAULT AND “CUSTODIAL” ASSAULT?
Fourth-degree assault is any assault that does not constitute first-degree, second-degree, or third-degree assault or custodial assault. Fourth-degree assault is categorized as a gross misdemeanor punishable upon conviction with up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. However, it can be charged as a class C felony under certain circumstances.
A person commits custodial assault when the person commits an assault that does not constitute first-degree or second-degree assault and:
1. Assaults a volunteer or staff member, educational personnel, a personal service provider, or an agent or vendor at any adult or juvenile corrections institution or any local adult or juvenile detention facility who was engaged in official duties when the assault occurred, or
2. Assaults a corrections or parole officer or any employee or volunteer in a community corrections facility while that person performs official duties
Custodial assault in the State of Washington is categorized as a Class C felony punishable upon conviction with up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
WHAT CONSTITUTES FIRST-DEGREE ASSAULT OF A CHILD?
Anyone age 18 or above commits first-degree assault of a child if a child is below age 13 and the adult commits first-degree assault against that child or assaults that child intentionally and causes substantial or great bodily harm.
First-degree assault on a child is categorized as a Class A felony punishable with up to life in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.
WHAT CONSTITUTES SECOND-DEGREE ASSAULT OF A CHILD?
Anyone age 18 or above commits second-degree assault of a child if a child is below age 13 and the adult either:
1. Commits second-degree assault against the child, or
2. Assaults a child intentionally and causes significant bodily harm that surpasses temporary physical pain or minor temporary marks, and the offender has a previous pattern of assaulting that child or causing that child substantial physical pain or agony
Second-degree assault on a child is categorized as a Class B felony punishable upon conviction with up to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000.
WHAT CONSTITUTES THIRD-DEGREE ASSAULT OF A CHILD?
Anyone 18 or older commits third-degree assault on a child if a child is below age 13 and the adult commits third-degree assault on the child. Third-degree assault on a child is considered a Class C felony. A conviction is punishable with up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
A violent felony charge can ruin your life unless you get good legal help fast from the right criminal defense attorney. If you are convicted of any assault charge – especially a felony or a crime against a child – a jail or prison sentence is likely.
If you are charged with any assault crime in the greater Seattle area, you will need serious legal help at once. The right Seattle criminal defense lawyer will offer you trustworthy legal advice, protect your rights, and fight aggressively for the justice you need.