Physically harming another person is illegal in Washington, unless it occurs when defending oneself or others. Anyone accused of physically hurting someone else may face assault charges. Various degrees of assault exist according to state laws, and each has different consequences if one is convicted.
This is the least severe of all the assault charges. The consequence for a conviction is up to 90 days in the local jail. A person charged with this level offense has allegedly harmed someone else, but the assault itself was not severe enough to fit into any of the other assault categories.
This is the next level up, where a significant assault occurred, causing the victim to suffer bodily harm. There has to be an element of criminal negligence present, or the victim must have been a law enforcement officer, health care worker, first responder, court employee or public transit worker. The consequences if convicted include a fine of $10,000 and up to 43 months behind bars.
This type of assault requires intent to cause significant bodily harm. This is generally a Class B felony offense, with penalties that include years behind bars and $20,000 in fines. Depending on the nature of the crime, it could be upgraded to a Class A felony. A few examples of second-degree assault crimes include strangulation, torture, exposing the victim to poison or other dangerous substance, or striking with a weapon
Finally, first-degree assault is the most severe of them all. This requires intent and the use of a deadly weapon, be that a firearm, knife, or other object or deadly substance. The victim must have suffered significant bodily harm. The consequences for this level of assault include up to $50,000 in fines and up to 123 months in prison.
There are various defense strategies Washington residents can use if charged with assault. They include self-defense, accident and mistake of fact — among others. While fighting assault charges can prove difficult, legal counsel can help one with a strategic defense that will help achieve the best outcome possible.