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Comparing Washington Assault Charges

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Navigating the Washington criminal justice system can be a daunting experience, especially if you find yourself on the receiving end of an assault charge. These offenses are taken very seriously, and the potential penalties reflect this severity.

The state of Washington categorizes assault charges into different degrees, with specific definitions and penalties as laid out in the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) Statutes. Understanding the different degrees of assault can be instrumental in forming an effective defense strategy and fighting for the best possible outcome.

Assault in the First Degree

According to statute 9A.36.011, assault in the first degree occurs when an individual intentionally inflicts great bodily harm, using a firearm or any deadly weapon, or through any force or means likely to cause great harm or death. It may also involve the administration of poison, the human immunodeficiency virus, or any destructive or noxious substance to another person. 

In Washington, assault in the first degree is classified as a Class A felony. This is punishable by up to $50,000 in fines and life in prison.

Assault in the Second Degree

Statute 9A.36.021 defines assault in the second degree as the intentional assault of another person, which recklessly inflicts substantial bodily harm. It can also involve causing harm to an unborn quick child, the use of a deadly weapon, or the administration of poison or other harmful substances. 

Assault in the second degree is a Class B felony, except when it involves sexual motivation, in which case it becomes a Class A felony. In Washington, Class B felonies are punishable by up to $20,000 in fines and up to 10 years in prison.

Assault in the Third Degree

Third-degree assault, as defined by statute 9A.36.031, occurs when a person, with intent to resist lawful apprehension or the execution of any lawful process, assaults another. This crime includes assaults against transit operators, school bus drivers, firefighters, law enforcement officers, and healthcare providers performing their official duties. 

Assault in the third degree also encompasses causing bodily harm through criminal negligence or a weapon likely to produce harm.  This crime is categorized as a Class C felony, which is punishable by up to five years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

Assault in the Fourth Degree

As per statute 9A.36.041, fourth-degree assault happens when a person assaults another under circumstances not amounting to first, second, or third-degree assault, or custodial assault. Assault in the fourth degree is classified as a gross misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Custodial Assault

Custodial assault, defined by statute 9A.36.100, is committed when a person in custody or detention assaults a staff member, volunteer, educational personnel, service provider, vendor, or agent of a juvenile or adult correction institution or local detention facility. 

Assaults against community correction officers and their assistants while performing their official duties also fall under this category. Custodial assault is considered a Class C felony.

Assault of a Child in the First Degree

Statute 9A.36.120 outlines that assault of a child in the first degree is committed by a person 18 years or older against a child under the age of 13. It involves committing first-degree assault against the child, resulting in great bodily harm. The statute also covers cases where the perpetrator has a history of causing physical harm or pain equivalent to torture. The crime is categorized as a Class A felony.

Assault of a Child in the Second Degree

As per statute 9A.36.130, second-degree assault of a child involves a person 18 years or older intentionally assaulting a child under the age of 13, causing more than transient physical pain or minor temporary marks. This crime is categorized as a Class B felony.

Assault of a Child in the Third Degree

Statute 9A.36.140 states that assault of a child in the third degree is committed by a person 18 years or older against a child under the age of 13, under the parameters of third-degree assault as defined in RCW 9A.36.031(1) (d) or (f). This crime is classified as a Class C felony.

What to Do If You Are Facing Assault Charges in Washington

If you find yourself facing assault charges in Washington, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed and unsure of the next steps. However, it’s crucial to understand that these charges are serious and can have far-reaching consequences. Thus, it’s important to act immediately and appropriately to protect your rights and build a robust defense.

Following these steps can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case:

  • Retain a Lawyer: This should be your immediate action after an arrest. Legal representation is critical as assault charges can be complex and challenging to navigate. A Washington assault defense attorney can provide the necessary guidance, protect your rights, and build a defense strategy tailored to your specific case.
  • Maintain Silence: Invoke your right to remain silent and do not discuss the details of your case with law enforcement officers, friends, or family before consulting with your attorney. Any statement you make can be used against you in court.
  • Review the Charges: With your attorney, carefully review the charges leveled against you. Understand the degree of assault you’re being charged with and what the state must prove to convict you. This can be the basis for crafting your defense.
  • Tell Your Lawyer Everything: Make sure to tell your attorney everything you remember about the incident. Include as many details as you can, no matter how minor they may seem. This information may be useful to your attorney in building a strong defense.
  • Gather Witnesses: If there were any witnesses present during the incident, provide your lawyer with their names and contact information. Your lawyer can help find these witnesses and ask them to testify in court.
  • Cooperate with Your Attorney: Be transparent and cooperative with your lawyer. Provide all the necessary information they request and ask for clarification if there’s anything you don’t understand. Remember, your attorney is there to help you.
  • Prepare for Court: Attend all court dates and dress appropriately. Conduct yourself respectfully in court. Remember, the judge’s impressions of you can play a part in the outcome of your case.

Remember, being charged is not the same as being convicted. With legal representation and a thorough understanding of the charges against you, you can navigate these challenging circumstances. As soon as possible after your arrest, contact a Tacoma assault attorney to protect your rights.

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