Why You Shouldn’t Try To Navigate These Charges Without a Criminal Defense Lawyer
Assault and battery are serious crimes in Washington state. A conviction will have long-term consequences, including prison time and fines. If you are facing charges of assault and battery, you’ll need the services of an experienced Bellingham criminal defense law firm who can help protect your freedom and your future. Assault and battery cases are complex; don’t try to navigate them alone!
What Is The Difference Between Battery & Assault?
Each state has its own laws regarding assault and battery. In many states, assault is the threat of physical harm while battery is the actual infliction of physical harm. Many potentially violent situations are charged as assault, but not battery, because only the threat of violence exists.
In Washington state, assault charges include both the threat of force and the use of force. This means that in Washington, you cannot be charged with only battery like you could in other states; you can only be charged with assault, which may or may not include battery.
Types of Assault Charges
The state of Washington recognizes multiple degrees of assault charges.
First degree assault is a Class A violent felony and includes crimes such as:
- Committing battery and assault with a deadly weapon, a firearm, or another means of inflicting great bodily harm
- Inflicting great bodily harm
- Exposing someone to a destructive substance such as poison or HIV virus
Second degree assault is a Class B violent felony and includes crimes such as:
- Strangling or suffocating a person
- Assault and battery with an intent to inflict substantial bodily harm
- Intentionally inflicting substantial bodily harm to an unborn child by injuring a pregnant mother
- Striking a person with a deadly weapon
- Striking a person with the intent to commit a felony
- Inflicting bodily harm which can be considered equivalent to torture
Third degree assault is a Class C nonviolent felony. You may be charged with third degree assault if you caused bodily harm to someone as a result of criminal negligence.
Fourth degree assault is a misdemeanor, and is charged when there is not a great deal of bodily injury or when the crime was not committed with a weapon. Fourth degree assault includes crimes such as:
- Intentionally touching someone in a harmful or offensive manner
- Hitting, spitting, or scratching someone
The state of Washington recognizes separate laws regarding the assault of a minor or other circumstances, such as assault of a police officer. Regardless of the severity, if you are facing charges of assault and battery in Washington, immediately contact your Burlington felony lawyer for experienced legal guidance and representation.
What Are The Consequences Of Assault & Battery Charges In Washington?
Penalties for assault charges depend on whether the assault is a felony or misdemeanor, the circumstances of the case, and any past criminal record you may have. First degree felony assaults with a deadly weapon can be punished with up to ten years in prison for first time offenders and up to a life sentence in prison, depending on criminal history.
Second degree assault convictions will be up to 9 months in jail, or more if have other criminal convictions in the past or used a deadly weapon. Third degree assault may result in up to 5 years in prison with a fine of $10,000. Additionally, felony convictions can make it difficult for you to find employment or housing after you are released from prison. You’ll likely face social consequences from family and friends and may face other potential consequences, such as loss of professional licensure or loss of the custody of your children. A felony conviction will change your life, so you’ll need help from an experienced Bellingham criminal defense attorney. Misdemeanor assault convictions may be penalized with up to a year in jail and up to a $5,000 fine.
How Your Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You
An experienced Ferndale criminal defense attorney will be with you throughout every step of the legal process to provide legal advice and representation, and to help you understand your options. Your attorney will conduct a thorough investigation to build a case in your defense.
In order to get a conviction of assault, the prosecutor will need to provide sufficient evidence. Every assault case needs careful investigation to determine whether the accused acted in self-defense or in the defense of his family, home, or property. In Washington, you cannot be charged with assault if you used reasonable force to defend yourself, your family, or your property. In some cases, charges are dropped because the person charged with assault is misidentified or the alleged victim fabricated the story.
If you are found guilty of assault, the victim may pursue civil damages against you. The consequences of civil and criminal liability can be significant, so make the call to a trusted Lynden felony attorney right away.
Get The Personalized Representation You Need
If you’ve been charged with assault in Washington state, get the experienced legal representation you need from Bellingham Criminal Defense Lawyer. Our firm provides personalized advice and representation for each client with respect and attentiveness, drawing on our extensive knowledge of Washington law and legal procedures. Trust our tough, experienced lawyer with your case. Schedule your free case review by calling our office today!