Assault in the fourth degree is the most common assault charge in Washington state.
Assault in Washington state can involve any act of violence, whether or not the act is severe. For example, throwing an object at someone during an argument can be considered assault.
However, not all acts of assault are treated the same way in Washington. Depending on the degree of alleged assault, you may be charged with various penalties.
What is involved in a fourth degree assault, and what are the charges associated with a conviction? Keep reading to find out.
What is Fourth Degree Assault?
Fourth degree assault is widely defined; however, it is generally characterized by if an individual offensively touches or uses force on another person without that person’s permission.
In other words, a fourth-degree assault occurs when one person tries to physically harm another person and thus initiates contact that the victim finds offensive.
In many cases, fourth degree assault is the product of domestic violence. Domestic violence assault involves one family/household member threatening or committing an act of violence against another family/household member or someone you are in a current or past dating relationship with.
Fourth degree assault is the lowest assault charge a person can receive. However, it can result in significant consequences. Keep reading to learn what the consequences are for a conviction of fourth degree assault in Washington state.
Fourth Degree Assault Charges in Washington State
A fourth degree assault is a gross misdemeanor. Gross misdemeanors can result in up to one year in jail and/or a fine of $5,000 (RCW 9A.20.021).
However, in some cases, fourth degree assault can be charged as a Class C felony. If you have two or more prior convictions within the last ten years in any of the following offenses, you may be charged with a Class C felony rather than a gross misdemeanor (RCW 9A.36.041):
- Repetitive domestic violence offenses
- Harassment crime
- Third-degree assault
- Second-degree assault
- First-degree assault
- Any out of state comparable offenses
Can a Person Be Arrested for Assault in Washington?
Because fourth degree assault is not as serious as first, second, or third-degree assault, some people wonder if a fourth degree assault is grounds for arrest.
The short answer is yes. In general, if the police have probable cause to make an arrest for an assault in the fourth degree, they can do so.
What if you didn’t commit the crime? Once a domestic violence arrest is in progress, the alleged victim cannot drop the charges. Once you are formally charged, the only person who can drop the charges is the prosecutor.
Do You Have Assault Charges Against You in Washington State?
If you have been arrested for or accused of fourth-degree assault, you will need to contact an attorney right away.
Will & Will is a Seattle-based husband and wife attorney team that is ready to help defend you in your unique case! Whether you are accused of domestic violence fourth degree assault, or another violent crime, Will & Will has the experience you need. In fact, with over 35 years of combined experience, Will & Will can help you get the best possible outcome in your case.
For more information, contact Will & Will today and set up a free consultation.