Yelm Assault Defense Attorneys

One of the most common types of violent crimes is assault. Did you know that you can be charged and convicted of assault without physically touching another person?

Often you hear the terms “assault” and “battery” together, mostly via police procedurals on television, and in books or movies. Traditionally, a battery is typically described as offensive or harmful touching; an assault occurs when someone tries to commit a battery using threats.

However, the exact definition of "assault and battery" is determined by state law. Some states treat this as one offense; other states have two distinct charges. Washington state law doesn’t define “assault” in its criminal code, so the state courts rely on common law, which defines assault as “intentionally inflicting unwanted harm to another person,” turning assault and battery into one charge under the umbrella term “assault.”

Confused? That’s understandable; Washington state laws are complex and ever-changing. Probably you have dozens of questions running through your mind, like-

  • Is it against the law to threaten someone in Thurston County?
  • Do I need a lawyer to defend my assault charges in Yelm?
  • Is assault considered a violent crime in Washington state?
  • What is the best defense against an assault charge in Yelm?

The information on this webpage is designed to help you better understand criminal assault charges and their penalties in Thurston County. For more information, or if you have specific questions regarding your case, please contact our team of experienced Yelm assault defense attorneys today. The only cost to you is a little bit of your time - a small price to pay for peace of mind.

How Thurston County Categorizes Assault Charges

If you have been charged with assault, it helps to understand which of several potential charges you may be facing. In Washington, there are different classifications of assault based on the alleged conduct, the seriousness of the injuries, and whether or not there was a weapon involved.

  1. Assault in the 1st degree, also known as Assault 1, is a class A felony and is commonly referred to as “assault with a deadly weapon.” Washington State Statute RCW 9A.36.011 “(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) Transmits HIV to a child or vulnerable adult; or
    (c) Administers, exposes, or transmits to or causes to be taken by another, poison or any other destructive or noxious substance; or
    (d) Assaults another and inflicts great bodily harm.
  2. 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. An example of assault in the second degree would be assault by strangulation or suffocation.
  3. 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
  4. 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. As of March 18, 2020, Assault in the 4th degree will also be considered an act of domestic violence when the alleged victim is a family or household member or an intimate partner who has been subjected to domestic violence. A DV specification on an Assault 4 charge is likely to come with bigger penalties.

Washington State’s assault laws are detailed and complicated. This is why your defense attorney’s experience and knowledge are so important. Because there are so many different circumstances that can result in an assault charge it is very important to have the best Thurston County criminal defense attorney defending your case.

Penalties for an Assault Conviction in Thurston County

The consequences arising from assault convictions can vary. When determining consequences and sentences, the court looks at the offender's criminal record, probation or parole status, and a variety of other factors. Most assault cases involve numerous legal details, requiring the full attention of an experienced and skilled attorney to give you the best opportunity for success.

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 include punishable by 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.

Felony assault cases are exclusively handled by a county’s superior court. The Thurston County Superior Court is located in Olympia.

Assault in the 4th degree is considered a gross misdemeanor and would be adjudicated in the Thurston County District Court, also located in Olympia. A gross misdemeanor is punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

Other, less common assault charges in Washington include custodial assault, and assault of a child in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree.

If you have been arrested and charged with assault in Yelm, it is critical that you contact a reputable Thurston County assault defense attorney with significant experience defending assault charges. It is very important that you know all of your rights and possible defenses, and also that you have the utmost confidence in your lawyer and legal team. As stressful as getting charged with assault can be, it’s important to hire a quality defense attorney as your lawyer will be a lifeline during this challenging time.

Defending Assault Charges - How a Yelm Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You

As with most criminal offenses, the specifics of each case will determine what proper defense to use. A commonly used defense for assault charges is self-defense. Self-defense is what is referred to legally as an “affirmative defense.” Essentially this means that while you may have physically performed the illegal act, you were justified in doing so to defend yourself from attack.

Another commonly used assault charge defensive strategy is called defense of others, which is another affirmative defense similar to self-defense. Many other more subtle defenses deal with privilege, intent, and justification. Given the array of potential defenses available, it is important to have an experienced Yelm assault defense lawyer who can find the best defense and use it to your advantage. Contact our firm today for a free case consultation. Any assault charge is a serious matter that should not be taken lightly. Serious charges require a serious defense.

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