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Assault - Physical harm

Assault Attorney

RCW 9A.36 covers Assaults and other Physical Harm crimes. These crimes range from misdemeanors all the way up to serious felonies. Each charge is fact specific and can change what evidence the government must prove in order to convict you. Having an assault crime on your record can have serious and long lasting consequences in numerous aspects of your life.  

A conviction for an assault or physical harm crime can put you at risk for a large number of consequences depending on your case. These consequences can be jail or prison time, large fines, protection orders, anger management, alcohol or drug evaluations and follow up treatment, loss of Constitutional rights, including your gun rights, and numerous future consequences that can impact employment, education, and assistance.

No attorney can guarantee you a result, but hiring a qualified criminal defense attorney will put you in the best position for a positive result. A private attorney will be able to do a full investigation into the facts and charges, interview victims and witnesses, obtain physical evidence, hire investigators and/or experts, and keep you informed while your case is ongoing. In addition our firm believes in guiding you through the entire process, keeping you informed, and trying to make this difficult situation as stress free as possible.

Below you will find a list of the Assault and Physical Harm crimes found under RCW 9A.36.

If you have any questions or wish to speak with an experienced assault attorney, please call us at 253-383-3328. We handle cases all over western Washington throughout Pierce County, King County, Thurston County, and Kitsap County.


Criminal Assault

In Washington, an assault is an intent crime, where one knowingly causes bodily harm to another. The seriousness of the harm is the main, but not the only, factor in determining what seriousness level you will be charged under.  Assault charges range from a Gross Misdemeanor all the way up to a Class A felony. In addition, whether a person used a weapon, a firearm, a virus, poison, or noxious substance, choked or strangled, had sexual motivation, or committed the assault on a "household or family member" can alter the seriousness level you are charged with, as well as add on additional in-custody time and other conditions of sentencing.  The person you assault can also impact the seriousness level of your offense. For example, assaulting a police officer, nurse, physician, or transit driver, can increase the seriousness level of your charge.

As you can see, assault charges are very fact specific which makes every case unique. This is why speaking with and hiring an experienced Tacoma criminal defense attorney familiar with handling these types of charges is critical to your case.


Assault in the first degree

RCW 9A.36.011: Assault in the first degree is a Class A felony.

The maximum sentence for a conviction of Assault in the first degree is life imprisonment in a state correctional facility, and/or a fine of $50,000.

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

  • Assaults another with a firearm or any deadly weapon or by any force or means likely to produce great bodily harm or death; or
  • 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
  • Assaults another and inflicts great bodily harm.

Assault in the second degree

RCW 9A.36.021: Assault in the second degree is a Class B felony

The maximum sentence for a conviction of Assault in the second degree is 10 years in a state correctional facility, and/or a fine of $20,000.

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

  • Intentionally assaults another and thereby recklessly inflicts substantial bodily harm; or
  • 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
  • Assaults another with a deadly weapon; or
  • With intent to inflict bodily harm, administers to or causes to be taken by another, poison or any other destructive or noxious substance; or
  • With intent to commit a felony, assaults another; or
  • Knowingly inflicts bodily harm which by design causes such pain or agony as to be the equivalent of that produced by torture; or
  • Assaults another by strangulation or suffocation.

However, if there is a finding that of sexual motivation under RCW 9.94A.835 or 13.40.135 then a conviction for Assault in the second degree becomes a a Class A felony. This increases the maximum sentence to life imprisonment in a state correctional facility, and/or a fine of $50,000.


Assault in the third degree

RCW 9A.36.031: Assault in the third degree is Class C felony.

The maximum sentence for a conviction of Assault in the third degree is 5 years in a state correctional facility, and/or a fine of $10,000.

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:

  • 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, herself, or another person, assaults another; or
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • With criminal negligence, causes bodily harm accompanied by substantial pain that extends for a period sufficient to cause considerable suffering; or
  • 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
  • Assaults a peace officer with a projectile stun gun; or
  • 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; or
  • Assaults a judicial officer, court-related employee, county clerk, or county clerk's employee, while that person is performing his or her official duties at the time of the assault or as a result of that person's employment within the judicial system. For purposes of this subsection, "court-related employee" includes bailiffs, court reporters, judicial assistants, court managers, court managers' employees, and any other employee, regardless of title, who is engaged in equivalent functions; or
  • Assaults a person located in a courtroom, jury room, judge's chamber, or any waiting area or corridor immediately adjacent to a courtroom, jury room, or judge's chamber. This section shall apply only: (i) During the times when a courtroom, jury room, or judge's chamber is being used for judicial purposes during court proceedings; and (ii) if signage was posted in compliance with RCW 2.28.200 at the time of the assault.

As you can see, assault in the third degree is most often used to elevate a simple assault to a felony when it's committed on a person working a specific job. The legislature has sought to protect these individuals who are generally public servants, law enforcement, court employees, firefighters, bus drivers, and nurses. Due to the important nature of the work these individuals do, and the social harm that could come from an assault on these individuals while they are performing their duties, by increasing the possible penalty, the legislature hopes to deter attacks on these individuals. 


Assault in the fourth degree

RCW 9A.36.041: Assault in the fourth degree is a gross misdemeanor

The maximum sentence for a conviction of Assault in the fourth degree is 364 days in the county jail, and/or a fine of $5,000.

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.

Assault in the fourth degree is a very common type of assault charge, as it does not take much on the part of a person to engage in conduct that meets this level of harm.

In addition, this a very common type of assault charged in a domestic violence allegation. When the Domestic Violence tag is attached, it adds a number of issues, concerns, and additional consequences. To learn more about Domestic Violence offenses, click here.

It is important to note that recent changes to the can increase the penalty of an Assault 4 charge to a Class C felony in certain domestic violence situations.

The increase to a Class C felony occurs when someone has multiple prior convictions for domestic violence related crimes. It is also important to know that the definition for what creates a domestic violence offense is slightly different than the standard definition for a domestic violence case. This change in the law is targeted at repeat offenders of domestic violence, especially between very close relationships, such as spouses, domestic partners, and persons who have a child together. These relationships are the most common types of domestic violence cases and those that the legislature is trying to remedy, prevent, and punish more forcefully.

Click on the link above to review the most up to date version of the statute.

If you or a loved one is facing a criminal assault charge, you need to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. These cases move fast and can tear families apart making a difficult situation even worse. If you have questions or would like to schedule a free consultation, call us at 253-383-3328.


Drive-by shooting

RCW 9A.36.045: Drive-by shooting is a Class B felony.

The maximum sentence for a conviction of Drive-by shooting is 10 years in a state correctional facility, and/or a fine of $20,000.

You can be convicted of a drive-by shooting two ways.

  1. A person is guilty of drive-by shooting when he or she recklessly discharges a firearm as defined in RCW 9.41.010 in a manner which creates a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to another person and the discharge is either from a motor vehicle or from the immediate area of a motor vehicle that was used to transport the shooter or the firearm, or both, to the scene of the discharge.
  2. A person who unlawfully discharges a firearm from a moving motor vehicle may be inferred to have engaged in reckless conduct, unless the discharge is shown by evidence satisfactory to the trier of fact to have been made without such recklessness.

A drive-by shooting case often comes with other serious charges and sentencing enhancements including firearm enhancements and, if provable, gang related enhancements. Due to the nature of this charge and how it can impact society in general and often include innocent victims, both prosecutors and judges can be very tough on defendants.


Reckless endangerment

RCW 9A.36.050: Reckless endangerment is a gross misdemeanor.

The maximum sentence for a conviction of Reckless endangerment is 364 days in the county jail, and/or a fine of $5,000.

A person is guilty of reckless endangerment when he or she recklessly engages in conduct not amounting to drive-by shooting but that creates a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to another person.

Reckless endangerment is a frequent charge that prosecutors will add on when a defendant is facing other charges, either before trial or if a case is set for trial. For example, prosecutors can add a Reckless Endangerment charge for each passenger you have in your vehicle if you are arrested and charged for DUI or Reckless Driving. Be speak with one of our experienced local criminal defense lawyers today to learn more. 


Promoting a suicide attempt

RCW 9A.36.060: Promoting a suicide attempt is Class C felony.

The maximum sentence for a conviction of promoting a suicide attempt is 5 years in a state correctional facility, and/or a fine of $10,000.

A person is guilty of promoting a suicide attempt when he or she knowingly causes or aids another person to attempt suicide.


Coercion

RCW 9A.36.070: Coercion is a gross misdemeanor.

The maximum sentence for a conviction of Coercion is 364 days in the county jail, and/or a fine of $5,000.

A person is guilty of coercion if by use of a threat he or she compels or induces a person to engage in conduct which the latter has a legal right to abstain from, or to abstain from conduct which he or she has a legal right to engage in.

"Threat" as used in this section means:

  • To communicate, directly or indirectly, the intent immediately to use force against any person who is present at the time; or
  • Threats as defined in *RCW 9A.04.110(27) (a), (b), or (c).

It is important to note that RCW 9A.04.110 was changed in 2011 and "threat" is now defined under subsection 28, not 27.


Threats against governor or family

RCW 9A.36.090: Threats against governor of family is a Class C felony

The maximum sentence for a conviction is 5 years in a state correctional facility, and/or a fine of $10,000.

Whoever knowingly and willfully deposits for conveyance in the mail or for a delivery from any post office or by any letter carrier any letter, paper, writing, print, missive, or document containing any threat to take the life of or to inflict bodily harm upon the governor of the state or his or her immediate family, the governor-elect, the lieutenant governor, other officer next in the order of succession to the office of governor of the state, or the lieutenant governor-elect, or knowingly and willfully otherwise makes any such threat against the governor, governor-elect, lieutenant governor, other officer next in the order of succession to the office of governor, or lieutenant governor-elect, shall be guilty of a class C felony.

As used in this section, the term "governor-elect" and "lieutenant governor-elect" means such persons as are the successful candidates for the offices of governor and lieutenant governor, respectively, as ascertained from the results of the general election. As used in this section, the phrase "other officer next in the order of succession to the office of governor" means the person other than the lieutenant governor next in order of succession to the office of governor under Article 3, section 10 of the state Constitution.

The Washington state patrol may investigate for violations of this section.


Custodial assault

RCW 9A.36.100: Custodial Assault is a Class C felony

The maximum sentence for a conviction of Custodial Assault is 5 years in a state correctional facility, and/or a fine of $10,000.

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:

  • 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;
  • 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;
  • Assaults a full or part-time community correction officer while the officer is performing official duties; OR Assaults any other full or part-time employee who is employed in a community corrections office while the employee is performing official duties; or
  • Assaults any volunteer who was assisting a person described in (c) of this subsection at the time of the assault.

Assault of a child

As with a regular assault charge, assaulting a child can result in different levels of seriousness of the charge. The main factor in determining the level of seriousness of the charge is the bodily harm, although, how the assault occurred can factor in as well.

In addition, these charges are of increased concern for prosecutors and judges as the safety of minors is a high priority. Many prosecutor's offices have dedicated prosecutors that only handle crimes where children are the victims. Thus, it is especially important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to fight any allegation of assault on a child.

Assault of a child in the first degree

RCW 9A.36.120: Assault of a child in the first degree is a Class A felony

The maximum sentence for a conviction of Assault of a child in the first degree is life imprisonment in a state correctional facility, and/or a fine of $50,000.

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:

  • Commits the crime of assault in the first degree, as defined in RCW 9A.36.011, against the child; or
  • Intentionally assaults the child and either:
    • Recklessly inflicts great bodily harm; or
    • 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.

Assault of a child in the second degree

RCW 9A.36.130: Assault of a child in the second degree is a Class B felony.

The maximum sentence for a conviction of Assault of a child in the second degree is 10 years in a state correctional facility, and/or a fine of $20,000.

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:

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

Assault of a child in the third degree

RCW 9A.36.140: Assault of a child in the third degree is a Class C felony.

The maximum sentence for a conviction of Assault of a child in the third degree is 5 years in a state correctional facility, and/or a fine of $10,000.

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.


Interfering with the report of domestic violence

RCW 9A.36.150: Interfering with the reporting of domestic violence is a gross misdemeanor.

The maximum sentence for a conviction of Interfering with the report of domestic violence is 364 days in the county jail, and/or a fine of $5,000.

A person commits the crime of interfering with the reporting of domestic violence if the person:

  • Commits a crime of domestic violence, as defined in RCW 10.99.020; and
  • Prevents or attempts to prevent the victim of or a witness to that domestic violence crime from calling a 911 emergency communication system, obtaining medical assistance, or making a report to any law enforcement official.

Commission of a crime of domestic violence under subsection (1) of this section is a necessary element of the crime of interfering with the reporting of domestic violence.

This charge can also accompany other charges, such as assault, when the domestic violence tag is attached. To learn more about domestic violence offenses click here. If you are facing any domestic violence criminal charges is it extremely important you speak with a domestic violence attorney as these charges are treated differently then regular crimes. 


Failing to summon assistance

RCW 9A.36.160: Failing to summon assistance is a misdemeanor.

The maximum sentence for a conviction of Failing to summon assistance is 90 days in the county jail, and/or a fine of $1,000.

A person is guilty of the crime of failing to summon assistance if:

  • He or she was present when a crime was committed against another person; and
  • He or she knows that the other person has suffered substantial bodily harm as a result of the crime committed against the other person and that the other person is in need of assistance; and
  • He or she could reasonably summon assistance for the person in need without danger to himself or herself and without interference with an important duty owed to a third party; and
  • He or she fails to summon assistance for the person in need; and
  • Another person is not summoning or has not summoned assistance for the person in need of such assistance.

Pursuant to RCW 9A.36.161, a violation of RCW 9A.36.160, Failing to summon assistance, is a misdemeanor.

If you or a loved one is facing a criminal assault charge, it is important that you speak with an experienced assault attorney immediately. These types of cases are serious and carry heavy penalties and can be emotional charged due to the alleged violent nature. This makes the risk of serious consequences high. The experienced criminal defense attorney's here at South Sound Law Group can walk you through your case, the applicable law, any penalties you may be facing, and will work tirelessly to try and obtain the best result possible. These cases move fast and can tear families apart making a difficult situation even worse.

If you have questions or would like to schedule a free consultation, call us at 253-383-3328.

Contact Us

We are located next to the building that holds the Pierce County District Court, Pierce County Superior Court, and the Tacoma Municipal Court. We have free client parking in the alley located between South G St. and Yakima Ave. If you have any trouble finding our location or have a question about scheduling an appointment give us a call at 253-383-3328.

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Tacoma, WA 98405
253-383-3328
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