Assault Crime Attorney

Generally, an assault is defined as intentionally inflicting bodily injury on another, unlawfully touching another with criminal intent or putting another in apprehension of physical harm. Assault charges range in severity from misdemeanors to serious felonies. Assault cases are filed in City Court, District Court, or the Superior Court.

A CASE FILED IN CITY COURT OR DISTRICT COURT

An assault case filed in City Court or District Court is either a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of 90 days in jail, or a gross misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of a year in jail.

A CASE FILED IN SUPERIOR COURT

An assault case filed in Superior Court is much more serious. Generally, there are three main categories of assault charges in Superior Court:

  • Assault Third Degree (Class C Felony): Prosecutors typically file assault in the third degree charges when someone intentionally assaults a law enforcement officer, peace officer, fire fighter, nurse, physician, or bus driver who is performing his or her official duties at the time of the assault. RCW 9A.36.031.
  • Assault Second Degree(Class B Felony): Prosecutors typically file assault in the second degree when someone intentionally inflicts substantial bodily harm on another, threatens another person with a deadly weapon, or assaults another while committing a felony. RCW 9A.36.021.
  • Assault First Degree (Class A Felony): Prosecutors typically file assault in the first degree when someone intentionally inflicts great bodily harm or uses force likely to produce great bodily harm or death. The difference between assault in the first and second degree often depends on the extent of the injury. RCW 9A.36.011.

SELF DEFENSE

Although there are a number of different defenses to the crime of assault, one of the more common is self-defense. In order to raise this defense, the defendant must present evidence that his or her use of force was reasonable. This requires a showing that the defendant honestly believed there was an imminent threat of injury, and that this belief was reasonable in light of everything known to the defendant at that time.

Additionally, the defendant’s use of force must be proportionate to the perceived threat. For example, a defendant who believed he was about to be pushed by someone, would not be justified in shooting that person so as to avoid being pushed. Although the defendant must come forward with credible evidence of self-defense, once the defendant has done so, the burden shifts to the State to disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt.

Note:Different rules apply when a defendant attempts to raise self-defense against a police officer. In that situation, the defendant must prove that he or she was in actual danger of serious bodily injury. Unlike other self-defense claims, it is not enough for the defendant to prove a reasonable belief of danger; the danger must be real.

If you have questions about an assault crime, call us for a FREE 30-minute initial consultation at 206-957-2247.




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