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Understanding the Different Types of Assault Charges in Washington

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If you are reading this, you are about to delve into the world of assault charges in Washington. While this is not a light topic, it is important to understand the differences among first, second, third, and fourth-degree assaults.

You’ll also learn about the legal consequences of these charges. Knowledge is power, and this article will arm yourself with the information you need to understand the ins and outs of your case. Our office understands the complexities of assault accusations in Washington. If you would like particularized advice to your case, give us a call or email us here for a free consultation. 

Let’s unravel Washington’s assault laws together.

First Degree Assault

You’re facing serious consequences if you’re charged with First Degree Assault, as it’s considered a Class A Felony with severe penalties. This charge is levied when you’re accused of intending to inflict great bodily harm. Actions that could fall under this category include assaulting with a firearm or deadly weapon, administering poison or harmful substances, or causing great bodily harm.

In this context, ‘great bodily harm’ refers to serious and permanent injuries, not minor ones. As a first-time offender, the potential sentence ranges from 93 to 123 months in prison, along with fines up to $50,000. The stakes are even higher if you’re a repeat offender, as the punishment could escalate to life imprisonment.

In Washington, it’s essential to understand the gravity of these charges and the possible repercussions on your life. Defending against First Degree Assault charges requires strong legal representation and a thorough understanding of the legal system. Our office has a team of investigators that work side by side with defense attorney Tom Carley.

It’s crucial to consult with experienced legal counsel early and navigate through these charges in order to defend your rights and aim for the best possible outcome. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Second Degree Assault

While Second Degree Assault is less serious than First Degree, it is important to understand the gravity of this charge. Second Degree Assault is a strike offense, meaning three strikes and you are incarcerated for life. In Washington State, you’re looking at a serious situation that requires immediate attention. Here’s what you should know about this charge:

  1. A Second Degree Assault charge encompasses several acts. These include assaulting someone with a deadly weapon, attempting to commit a felony crime, causing substantial bodily harm to a pregnant woman or unborn child, strangulation or suffocation, or inflicting substantial bodily harm intentionally. Even administering poison with the intent to harm can land you this charge.
  2. Assault in the Second Degree is a Class B felony, carrying a range of up to 10 years in prison and fines reaching $20,000. If this is your third strike, a conviction for this offense carries life in prison.
  3. Legal representation is crucial. With such high stakes, you can’t afford to go it alone. Skilled criminal defense attorneys are your best bet for fighting these charges and protecting your rights.

Third Degree Assault

While you might think that a Third Degree Assault charge isn’t as serious as a Second Degree Assault charge, it’s important to remember that this charge is still a Class C felony in Washington State, and it carries stiff penalties. This law primarily protects certain individuals, such as transit operators, school bus drivers, healthcare providers, and law enforcement officers, who might be more vulnerable to assault due to their professions.

Third Degree Assault could also be committed with criminal negligence – i.e. you should have been aware of a safety risk that your actions caused. Under the criminal negligence prong, the government must also present sufficient evidence that your criminal negligent was accompanied by the use of a weapon or instrument capable of producing bodily harm, or that your criminal negligence resulted in substantial pain for a considerable period. 

If convicted of Third Degree Assault in Washington State, a person may face imprisonment for up to five years and/or a fine of up to $10,000. Additionally, a conviction can have lasting consequences, including a criminal record, limitations on employment opportunities, loss of voting rights and firearm rights, and damage to personal and professional relationships.

Fourth Degree Assault

Assault Lawyer Camas

Assault in the Fourth Degree is a gross misdemeanor, meaning that it carries a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. This is the most common type of assault charge, most often filed when there is some level of physical contact but no substantial bodily harm.

Here are three key points to understand about Fourth Degree Assault:

  1. Definition: It is broadly defined as any offensive touching. Injury to the other person is not necessarily a requirement for this charge to be levied. If the contact is unwanted and/or causes fear, that is enough. You can also get charged with Fourth Degree Assault if you intend to cause harm to another individual but fail to do (i.e. a swing and a miss) so or if you threaten to cause bodily harm to someone.
  2. Penalties: If convicted, you may face up to 364 days of jail, a fine up to $5,000, or both. In addition, a charge like this could carry probation, court-ordered counseling, and loss of firearm rights if this is a Domestic Violence assault charge. 
  3. Defenses: You can defend yourself against this charge. Self-defense is one of the most common strategies. You do not have a duty to retreat. A successful self-defense strategy requires proof that you had a reasonable belief that you were in immediate danger, and that your use of force to defend yourself was no more than necessary. In a similar vein, you are allowed to use force when defending against an assault on another individual, or defending against someone maliciously damaging your property. 

The Legal Consequences of Assault Charges

Surprisingly, you mightn’t fully realize the grave legal consequences you’d face when charged with assault. Such consequences can go beyond jail time and fines to include potential losses in employment, housing opportunities, and even child custody rights. In Washington State, the severity of these repercussions varies with the degree of the assault charge. It is important to contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately to protect your rights and future.

Carley Legal Services Provides Aggressive Legal Representation for Assault Charges

You’ll find that Carley Legal Services offers aggressive legal representation. We use our courtroom expertise to zealously defend you against assault charges. Tom Carley is well-versed in the complexities of Washington’s assault laws, and he understands how to navigate the local justice system to your advantage.

Here’s what Carley Legal Services can do for you:

  • Defend Against Assault Charges: Whether it’s an Assault 4 charge involving an unwanted touch or a more severe charge, we will build a robust legal defense.
  • Handle Domestic Violence Cases: If you’re facing accusations of domestic violence charges, we will strive to protect your rights and mitigate the consequences.
  • Negotiate Dropped Charges: Depending on the particular facts and circumstances of your case, Tom Carley can negotiate for your criminal charges to be dropped or help you complete a diversion program.

Remember, the penalties for assault charges in Washington are severe, ranging from hefty fines to potential jail time. It’s crucial to have an experienced attorney on your side. Don’t risk your future. Hire a skilled defense lawyer today.

Reach out to Carley Legal Services today for a free consultation and experience the difference that our aggressive, personalized legal representation can make.

Visit Tom Carley’s About page for more information on his expertise and how he can help you through the legal process.

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Understanding the Different Types of Assault Charges in Washington

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