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What are the various degrees of assault in Washington State?

| Sep 17, 2020 | Criminal Defense |

The Evergreen State recognizes four different degrees of assault based on the severity of bodily harm. The degree of alleged assault may determine whether you face a misdemeanor or felony charge.

A simple assault generally requires an attempt to harm another individual. If you touch someone or use harassing or threatening language displaying an intent to cause harm, you may face a fourth-degree assault charge. Washington State considers this a gross misdemeanor.

Which degrees of assault may result in a felony offense?

Third-, second- and first-degree assault offenses generally lead to a felony charge. Individuals allegedly making threats with a firearm, chemicals or deadly force may find themselves charged with a first-degree felony offense.

According to the Washington State Legislature, first-degree assault requires the accused individual’s intention of inflicting what the law views as great bodily harm. An individual convicted of a felony assault charge may spend 10 years in prison and pay a substantial fine.

How does assault motivated by sex elevate an offense?

When an individual allegedly makes threats with the purpose of engaging in a sexual act, law enforcement may elevate the offense to warrant harsher penalties. Even if no physical harm has occurred, a prosecutor may press for a higher offense.

A Washington State student, for example, pleaded guilty to a charge of fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation. As reported by The Western Front, his penalties required paying the harmed party more than $5,000 for medical and counseling expenses.

Under some circumstances, assault with an absence of bodily injury, but for the purpose of sexual motivation, may result in a first-degree felony offense. If a prosecutor provides evidence that significant physical or psychological harm occurred, a defendant may face a more severe punishment.