Criminal Defense for Assault in Washington State

Burg/Fulton: Trusted, Experienced, Ready to Help!
Burg/Fulton: Trusted, Experienced, Ready to Help!


Washington State Assault Statutes

Washington state assault charges can run from extremely serious felonies - assault in the first and second degree are "strike" offenses that can lead to months or years in prison.  To the somewhat less serious - misdemeanor assault, or assault in the fourth degree, which is a misdemeanor.

If you, or someone you know, has been charged with Washington State assault the government must prove the elements required under the Washington State criminal statute of the offense. For a conviction to occur there must be either a plea of guilty, or they must prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt at trial. Washington State assault may be committed in either the first, second, third or fourth degree.

Fourth degree assault is a gross-misdemeanor, the others are felonies, with first degree being the most serious. There are defenses to the crime of assault, such as self-defense or defense of others. If you prove one of these defenses, you may be entitled to attorney fees. If you have any questions about the elements of the Washington State assault statutes, please feel free to contact us for a free consultation.

Self Defense / Defense of Others - A Defense For Assault

If you have been accused of assault, there is a defense - either defense of self or defense of other.  In Washington State, If you use reasonable force to defend yourself it is a complete defense to the crime of assault.  If  you are charged by the state (not one of the cities) you may even be able to get attorney fees if the jury decides that your use of force was lawful.  Here is the jury instruction for "self-defense".  That is, this is the instruction a jury would likely see in an assault case where this defense has been raised:

WPIC 17.02 Lawful Force—Defense of Self, Others, Property

It is a defense to a charge of assault that the force [used][attempted][offered to be used] was lawful as defined in this instruction. [The [use of][attempt to use][offer to use] force upon or toward the person of another is lawful when [used][attempted][offered] [by a person who reasonably believes that [he][she] is about to be injured] [by someone lawfully aiding a person who [he][she] reasonably believes is about to be injured] in preventing or attempting to prevent an offense against the person, and when the force is not more than is necessary.] [The [use of][attempt to use][offer to use] force upon or toward the person of another is lawful when [used][attempted][offered] in preventing or attempting to prevent a malicious trespass or other malicious interference with real or personal property lawfully in that person's possession, and when the force is not more than is necessary.] The person [using][or][offering to use] the force may employ such force and means as a reasonably prudent person would use under the same or similar conditions as they appeared to the person, taking into consideration all of the facts and circumstances known to the person at the time of [and prior to] the incident. The [State][City][County] has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the force [used][attempted][offered to be used] by the defendant was not lawful. If you find that the [State][City][County] has not proved the absence of this defense beyond a reasonable doubt, it will be your duty to return a verdict of not guilty [as to this charge].

Assault Laws

Below is the Revised Code of Washington Statutes (what the Washington State government most prove beyond a reasonable doubt to convict you of this crime and what we will defend you against):

9A.36.011 - Assault in the First Degree

(1) A person is guilty of assault in the first degree if he or she, with intent to inflict great bodily harm:

(a) Assaults another with a firearm or any deadly weapon or by any force or means likely to produce great bodily harm or death; or

(b) Administers, exposes, or transmits to or causes to be taken by another, poison, the human immunodeficiency virus as defined in chapter 70.24 RCW, or any other destructive or noxious substance; or

(c) Assaults another and inflicts great bodily harm.

(2) Assault in the first degree is a class A felony.

9A.36.021 - Assault in the Second Degree

(1) A person is guilty of assault in the second degree if he or she, under circumstances not amounting to assault in the first degree:

(a) Intentionally assaults another and thereby recklessly inflicts substantial bodily harm; or

(b) Intentionally and unlawfully causes substantial bodily harm to an unborn quick child by intentionally and unlawfully inflicting any injury upon the mother of such child; or

(c) Assaults another with a deadly weapon; or

(d) With intent to inflict bodily harm, administers to or causes to be taken by another, poison or any other destructive or noxious substance; or

(e) With intent to commit a felony, assaults another; or

(f) Knowingly inflicts bodily harm which by design causes such pain or agony as to be the equivalent of that produced by torture; or

(g) Assaults another by strangulation.

(2)(a) Except as provided in (b) of this subsection, assault in the second degree is a class B felony.

(b) Assault in the second degree with a finding of sexual motivation under RCW 9.94A.835 or 13.40.135 is a class A felony.

9A.36.031 - Assault in the Third Degree

(1) A person is guilty of assault in the third degree if he or she, under circumstances not amounting to assault in the first or second degree:

(a) With intent to prevent or resist the execution of any lawful process or mandate of any court officer or the lawful apprehension or detention of himself or another person, assaults another; or

(b) Assaults a person employed as a transit operator or driver, the immediate supervisor of a transit operator or driver, a mechanic, or a security officer, by a public or private transit company or a contracted transit service provider, while that person is performing his or her official duties at the time of the assault; or

(c) Assaults a school bus driver, the immediate supervisor of a driver, a mechanic, or a security officer, employed by a school district transportation service or a private company under contract for transportation services with a school district, while the person is performing his or her official duties at the time of the assault; or

(d) With criminal negligence, causes bodily harm to another person by means of a weapon or other instrument or thing likely to produce bodily harm; or

(e) Assaults a firefighter or other employee of a fire department, county fire marshal's office, county fire prevention bureau, or fire protection district who was performing his or her official duties at the time of the assault; or

(f) With criminal negligence, causes bodily harm accompanied by substantial pain that extends for a period sufficient to cause considerable suffering; or

(g) Assaults a law enforcement officer or other employee of a law enforcement agency who was performing his or her official duties at the time of the assault; or

(h) Assaults a peace officer with a projectile stun gun; or

(i) Assaults a nurse, physician, or health care provider who was performing his or her nursing or health care duties at the time of the assault. For purposes of this subsection: "Nurse" means a person licensed under chapter 18.79 RCW; "physician" means a person licensed under chapter 18.57 or 18.71 RCW; and "health care provider" means a person certified under chapter 18.71 or 18.73 RCW who performs emergency medical services or a person regulated under Title 18 RCW and employed by, or contracting with, a hospital licensed under chapter 70.41 RCW.

(2) Assault in the third degree is a class C felony.

9A.36.041 - Assault in the Fourth Degree

(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.

(2) Assault in the fourth degree is a gross misdemeanor.

9A.36.100 - Custodial Assault

(1) A person is guilty of custodial assault if that person is not guilty of an assault in the first or second degree and where the person:

(a) Assaults a full or part-time staff member or volunteer, any educational personnel, any personal service provider, or any vendor or agent thereof at any juvenile corrections institution or local juvenile detention facilities who was performing official duties at the time of the assault;

(b) Assaults a full or part-time staff member or volunteer, any educational personnel, any personal service provider, or any vendor or agent thereof at any adult corrections institution or local adult detention facilities who was performing official duties at the time of the assault;

(c)(i) Assaults a full or part-time community correction officer while the officer is performing official duties; or

(ii) Assaults any other full or part-time employee who is employed in a community corrections office while the employee is performing official duties; or

(d) Assaults any volunteer who was assisting a person described in (c) of this subsection at the time of the assault.

(2) Custodial assault is a class C felony.

9A.36.120 - Assault of a Child in the First Degree

(1) A person eighteen years of age or older is guilty of the crime of assault of a child in the first degree if the child is under the age of thirteen and the person:

(a) Commits the crime of assault in the first degree, as defined in RCW 9A.36.011, against the child; or

(b) Intentionally assaults the child and either:

(i) Recklessly inflicts great bodily harm; or

(ii) Causes substantial bodily harm, and the person has previously engaged in a pattern or practice either of (A) assaulting the child which has resulted in bodily harm that is greater than transient physical pain or minor temporary marks, or (B) causing the child physical pain or agony that is equivalent to that produced by torture.

(2) Assault of a child in the first degree is a class A felony.

9A.36.130 - Assault of a Child in the Second Degree

(1) A person eighteen years of age or older is guilty of the crime of assault of a child in the second degree if the child is under the age of thirteen and the person:

(a) Commits the crime of assault in the second degree, as defined in RCW 9A.36.021, against a child; or

(b) Intentionally assaults the child and causes bodily harm that is greater than transient physical pain or minor temporary marks, and the person has previously engaged in a pattern or practice either of (i) assaulting the child which has resulted in bodily harm that is greater than transient pain or minor temporary marks, or (ii) causing the child physical pain or agony that is equivalent to that produced by torture.

(2) Assault of a child in the second degree is a class B felony.

9A.36.140 - Assault of a Child in the Third Degree

(1) A person eighteen years of age or older is guilty of the crime of assault of a child in the third degree if the child is under the age of thirteen and the person commits the crime of assault in the third degree as defined in RCW 9A.36.031(1) (d) or (f) against the child.

(2) Assault of a child in the third degree is a class C felony.

Facing a Criminal Charge in Washington State?

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