Domestic violence Assault Charges in Seattle
Assault is one very common type of domestic violence charge. Any type of physical abuse that is physical can result in an assault charge. In order to make sure that the punishment matches the crime, Washington has four degrees of assault charges. The most serious cases are first degree and the least serious are fourth.
Fourth Degree Assault
Assault in the fourth degree is the lightest assault charge in Washington law. Fourth degree assault is the only assault offense that is charged as a misdemeanor, all others are felonies. Still, a conviction for 4th degree assault can result in serious penalties especially when it involves domestic violence. RCW 9A.36.041 states that:
(1) A person is guilty of assault in the fourth degree if, under circumstances not amounting to assault in the first, second, or third degree, or custodial assault, he or she assaults another.
Third Degree Assault
A person who commits any of the following acts not to the point of warranting second or first degree assault charges, can be charged with third degree assault under RCW 9A.36.031 if they commit any of the following acts:
- Causes harm by being criminally negligent with a weapon or dangerous instrument
- Causes harm that leads to pain and suffering for a substantial period of time due to criminal negligence
Most third degree assault laws apply to assaulting professionals such as police officers, transit workers and court employees. While there are still instances of domestic violence involving third degree assault charges, it is the least common domestic violence related assault charge.
Second Degree Assault
A person will be charged with second degree assault under RCW 9A.36.021 if they commit any of the following but not to the extent that it would warrant first degree charges if they:
- Assault another recklessly and intentionally and cause substantial harm Intentionally harm an unborn child by assaulting the mother
- Assault another with a deadly weapon not amounting to first degree assault
- Poison another person with the intent to do harm
- Assault another person with felony intent
- Cause injury to a person that inflicts pain or agony in a way that could be considered torture
- Strangle or suffocate another person
Strangulation or suffocation was found to be one of the most lethal forms of domestic violence. It is seen very often in domestic violence assaults between intimate partners. For these reasons, it is now considered a felony second degree assault crime.
First Degree Assault
The most serious category of assault is first degree assault. This is a felony offense that carries very steep penalties. The definition of first degree assault is very similar to that of second degree assault. First degree charges involve acts of violence that are the most vicious. Under RCW 9A.36.011, a person can be charged with assault in the first degree if they do any of the following with “intent to inflict great bodily harm”:
- A person assaults another with a deadly weapon, firearm or any item that is likely to inflict injury or death. Under this definition, almost any object can be considered a weapon including:
- Sling Shot
- Billy Club
- Metal Knuckles
- Any Knife Having A Blade Longer Than Three Inches
- Any Razor with An Unguarded Blade
- Any Metal Pipe or Bar Used Or Intended To Be Used As A Club
- Any Explosive
- A person uses poison to harm another intentionally. This includes poison, the human immunodeficiency virus, or destructive or noxious substance.
- A person causes serious injury by assaulting another person in any way.
Other Types of Assault
Custodial: This law deals with assault of a juvenile detention worker, educator, community corrections officer or volunteer.
Child: There are several levels of assault of a child laws in Washington as well. These charges include steeper penalties that other assault charges.
Seattle Domestic Violence Assault Penalties
Assault in the first degree and second degree assault involving sexual motivation will result in a class A felony and include the following penalties:
As much as life in prison
$50,000 in fines
All other assault in the second degree will result in a class B felony and include the following penalties:
Up to 10 year of jail time
$20,000 in fines
Assault in the third degree result in a class C felony and include the following penalties:
Up to 5 year of jail time
$10,000 in fines
Assault in the fourth degree is a gross misdemeanor and can result in the following penalties:
Up to one year of jail time
$5,000 in fines
In addition to these penalties, an offender may also have protective order placed against them if they are convicted of domestic violence assault. Felony convictions also carry a life ling stigma that can make offenders find it hard to find a job, get accepted to school and even apply for a loan.