News The Degrees of Assault Charges in Washington State

The Degrees of Assault Charges in Washington State


If you are charged with assault in Washington State, you are looking at the potential for a number of punishment scenarios. Here’s a look at the four degrees of assault and how they are defined by Washington law.

Fourth Degree Assault

The least serious of assault charges is assault in the 4th degree. However, it still needs to be taken seriously, since there is the potential jail time. It is referred to as a gross misdemeanor and under Washington law, can carry up to 364 days in prison and no more than $5,000 in fines.

Third Degree Assault

Assault in the third degree charges can be brought if you cause bodily harm through criminal negligence, which is defined as the failure of using reasonable care to prevent consequences that would cause harm to someone.

The third degree assault charge is also used when someone assaults a public servant, such as a police officer, firefighter, health care provider, or bus driver, not through intent, but criminal negligence.

As a Class C felony, the maximum sentence is 5 years, and/or a fine of no more than $10,000.

Second Degree Assault

When you reach assault in the second degree, it includes the intent of doing bodily harm. Any of the following may constitute second degree assault:

  • Intentionally assaulting someone and causing substantial bodily harm
  • Assault with a deadly weapon
  • Intentionally assaulting a pregnant woman and causing bodily harm to the unborn child by
  • Administering poison or some other substance with the intent of doing bodily harm
  • Assaulting someone in the act of committing a felony
  • Torturing someone by knowingly inflicting harm causing pain or agony
  • Assault by strangulation

Second degree assault is a class B felony, which can include a maximum prison term of 10 years, and/or a fine of no more than $20,000.

First Degree Assault

In the most serious of assault charges, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the defendant had ‘the intent to commit great bodily harm.’ This may include ‘a firearm or any deadly weapon or by any force or means likely to produce great bodily harm or death’ or poison, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), or any other destructive or noxious substance.

Bodily harm is defined by Washington law as “bodily injury which creates a probability of death, or which causes significant serious permanent disfigurement, or which causes a significant permanent loss or impairment of the function of any bodily part or organ.”

First degree assault is a Class A felony, punishable by up to life in prison and and a $50,000 fine.

Assault sentencing and fines are also determined by whether or not you have a prior criminal record. Your attorney’s legal skills can also come into play. If you have been accused of assault, give us a call and we can discuss what the best course of action is for you.

Jason writes and manages web content for Spencer & Sundstrom, a criminal law firm in Washington State. The aforementioned information is his alone, and does not represent legal advice from attorneys at the firm.

The Degrees of Assault Charges in Washington State
General Contributor
Janice is a writer from Chicago, IL. She created the "simple living as told by me" newsletter with more than 12,000 subscribers about Living Better and is a founder of Seekyt.

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