Criminal charges can change every aspect of your life in the blink of an eye. It may surprise you to learn that most defendants do not have any experience with Washington’s legal system, and begin the process feeling completely lost and overwhelmed.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for an assault charge in Sumner there are probably dozens of questions on your mind, like
- What happens if I’m convicted of assault in Pierce County?
- Do I need a lawyer to defend an assault charge in Sumner?
- Is there a difference between assault and battery in Washington State?
- Is rape charged as assault in Pierce County?
Our team of Pierce County criminal defense lawyers is here to answer those questions, protect your rights, and fight for a favorable resolution to your case. The only people qualified to help you fully understand the possible penalties in your case are experienced Sumner assault and battery attorneys. Make sure you confer with proper legal representation before you try to face these charges alone.
We offer a no-cost case consultation to every prospective client. We encourage you to reach out as soon as you’ve been arrested and charged with assault in Sumner. We aim to provide you with the best possible outcome of your case and make sure you understand exactly what’s happening each step of the way.
To that end, we’ve designed this website to impart some basic knowledge on Assault laws and penalties in Washington state. This information is not meant to replace legal counsel and is intended only to provide some background information on the laws. Please contact our firm for all specific inquiries about your case.Washington State Assault Laws Explained by a Pierce County Criminal Defense Attorney
Washington State’s assault laws are detailed and complicated. One thing that differentiates our laws regarding assault from many other states, is that assault and battery are not separate charges in Washington. We very often hear the terms ‘assault’ and ‘battery’ used together, implying that assault is intentionally putting another person in reasonable apprehension of an imminent harmful or offensive contact, and battery is the actual physical act of violence.
In Washington, assault charges cover crimes involving both the threat of force and the actual use of force. There are over 15 different types of assault charges that can be filed in Pierce County, including Custodial Assault, Assault of a Child, and Reckless Endangerment. The four most commonly charged assault crimes in Washington are laid out below.
- Assault in the 1st degree, also known as Assault 1, is the most serious assault charge in Washington state. Commonly referred to as “assault with a deadly weapon,” other factors that may lead to an Assault 1 charge include poisoning someone with the intent to kill, or knowingly infecting someone with HIV or another deadly disease.
- Assault in the 2nd degree, also known as assault 2, is distinguishable from assault in the first degree primarily in the amount of harm caused, and the type of harm intended to be caused. Washington State Statute RCW 9a.36.021 “(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 or suffocation.”
- Assault in the 3rd degree, also known as assault 3, is charged when the accused
- Commits assault to impede a lawful order of the court or in avoidance of being taken into custody.
- Assaults a driver of public transportation or a school bus
- Assaults a firefighter or police officer
- Assaults a nurse, doctor, or other healthcare providers.
- Assaults a volunteer, staff member, or educational personnel
- Assault in the 4th degree, also known as assault 4, is charged when an assault occurs that does not meet the requirements of an assault 1,2, or 3.
You may notice that nowhere in the above laws does the words “sexual assault” appear. This is because rape is a separate charge from assault in Pierce County, and therefore has its own separate statutes.Penalties for an Assault Conviction in Sumner
The penalties in assault cases vary widely, and will always depend on the kind of offense charged and the exact circumstances of the offense. Whether or not the defendant has a criminal history, or a history of previous violent offenses, will also affect the severity of the penalty imposed. Listed below are the penalties for the most common assault charges seen in Pierce County.
Assault charges in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree are considered felonies. A felony is a charge more serious than a misdemeanor and therefore carries with it a more harsh set of punishments.
Assault in the first degree is a Class A felony. Punishments for assault 1 can include 93-123 months incarceration and fines up to $50,000 for a first offense, with the possibility of life in prison for a second offense.
Assault in the second degree is a Class B felony. Punishable by up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $20,000, or both, assault 2 may also be bumped up to a Class A felony if the assault that allegedly occurred was sexually motivated.
Assault in the third degree is a Class C felony. Punishable by a sentence of up to 5 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both, assault 3 is only charged when the alleged assault was not serious enough to be considered Assault 1 or 2 but is more serious than an Assault 4 charge.
Felony assault cases are exclusively handled by a county’s superior court. The Pierce County Superior Court serves as the county court for Sumner and is located in downtown Tacoma.
Assault in the 4th degree is considered a gross misdemeanor and would be adjudicated in the Pierce County District Court, also located in Tacoma. A gross misdemeanor is punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.
Of course, penalties are only of concern if a defendant is actually convicted of an offense. For our Sumner criminal defense attorneys, the aim in every case is always the complete dismissal of all charges and we will do everything possible to avoid a conviction in your case.How a Pierce County Assault Defense Attorney Can Help You
Like any aspect of the law, assault charges can be complicated – cases can arise where the limits of the law are tested, and difficult judgment must be made. However, with an experienced Sumner criminal defense attorney at your side, you can save yourself years and even decades of pain by getting your best shot at real justice in the court of law.
Like most other professions, the more experience a lawyer has under his or her belt, the better they will be able to perform under pressure. Attorneys can bring decades of knowledge and experience gleaned from past cases to shed key insights on your case. Our Pierce County criminal defense lawyers have over 50 combined years of experience handling criminal cases in Washington state. Contact us today for a free case evaluation, let us put our experience to work for you.