Client at Bugbee Law in orange jumpsuit and handcuffs before they enter their trial.

The state of Washington categorizes crimes and punishments according to a range of factors, with more serious infractions leading to more punishment. Assault crimes in Washington range from misdemeanors to felonies, and are categorized as either 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th-degree assault.

Assault in the 1st degree is the most severe assault charge and is classified as a Class A felony. Assault in the 4th degree is the least severe assault charge in the state of Washington, and is classified as a gross misdemeanor.

Though state law does not explicitly define the term “assault,” the courts, through common law, have defined the term to encompass:

  1. Intentionally touching another in a way that is harmful, or offensive;
  2. Attempting to inflict bodily injury upon another;
  3. An attempt, with unlawful force, to inflict bodily injury upon another person; and
  4. Placing another person in fear of bodily harm, whether or not you intended to do so

A touching is considered to be harmful and offensive if it happened without the consent of the person who was touched, and if it would also be offensive to the average person. Examples include, hitting, punching, kicking, cutting, shooting, or any other contact that would be deemed offensive.

Physical scars and injuries are not necessary requirements for an assault charge, though the extent to which the victim suffered physical scars and injuries may play a role in the severity of the charge.

If you or someone you care about has been charged with assault in the state of Washington, it is important to retain a qualified criminal defense attorney right away. Contact Bugbee Law Office today at (509) 337-5082 to arrange a free consultation with an experienced Washington criminal defense attorney.

1st-Degree Assault in the State of Washington (RCW 9A.36.011)

1st-degree assault in Washington is defined as intentionally causing great bodily harm to another by:

  1. A firearm, weapon, or force likely to cause great bodily harm or death;
  2. Transmitting or exposing a poison, HIV, or other destructive substance; or
  3. Inflicting great bodily harm.

The penalties for 1st-degree assault include 93-123 days in jail and fines of up to $50,000.

2nd-Degree Assault in the State of Washington (RCW 9A.36.021)

2nd-degree assault in the state of Washington is defined as any assault not amounting to 1st-degree assault and that involves:

  1. Assault with the intent to inflict substantial bodily harm;
  2. Intentionally causing great bodily harm to an unborn child by injuring the mother;
  3. Striking another with a deadly weapon with the intent to commit a felony;
  4. Transmitting or exposing a poison, HIV, or other destructive substance;
  5. Strangulation;
  6. Inflicting bodily harm that is considered tortuous;

2nd-degree assault is a Class B felony, punishable by up to ten years of incarceration and $20,000 in fines. If the crime was sexually motivated, the offense can be upgraded to a 1st-degree felony.

3rd-Degree Assault in the State of Washington (RCW 9A.36.031)

3rd-degree assault is defined as assaulting or causing bodily harm by criminal negligence to any member of the following groups of people:

  • Firefighters;
  • Law enforcement officers;
  • School bus drivers or public transportation workers;
  • Judicial officers and court employees; and
  • Nurses, physicians, and other healthcare providers.

A 3rd-degree assault in Washington is a Class C felony, and the possible punishments include up to five years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

4th-Degree Assault in the State of Washington ​​(RCW 9A.36.041)

A 4th-degree assault in the state of Washington is essentially any assault not severe enough to be classified otherwise. A 4th-degree assault is classified as a gross misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1000.

Defending an Assault Charge in the State of Washington

Even for a first-time felony assault charge, the prosecutor may be willing to enter a plea bargain to a lesser crime. The possible outcome depends on the facts of the case, the nature of the injuries to the victim, and your prior convictions or arrests.

One way to fight an assault charge is by arguing self-defense. You may defend yourself to fend off an attack, or in the defense of others.

However, the law of self-defense is complicated and has certain exceptions, including when you claim self-defense, but were the initial aggressor. Also, you cannot use deadly physical force, unless it is being used on you, and you cannot retreat safely (unless in your own home).

The best way to determine the possible outcome of an assault charge of any degree is to contact an experienced Washington criminal defense lawyer to discuss your case fully.

Contact an Experienced Spokane, Washington Criminal Defense Lawyer

An assault charge of any degree is a very serious charge. What’s more, it is often charged along with other serious crimes, meaning that your freedom may be in significant jeopardy.

If you have been charged with assault in the state of Washington, call Bugbee Law Office at (509) 337-5082, or visit our contact page 24/7 to arrange a free consultation with an experienced Spokane, Washington criminal defense lawyer.

Bugbee Law Office, P.S.  (509) 337-5082

1312 N Monroe St, Ste 147

Spokane, WA 99201 |  View Map

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