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Introduction: Assault is a serious criminal offense with legal consequences, encompassing various degrees of harm inflicted on another person. In Washington State, the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) provides guidelines for defining and penalizing different types of assault. This article focuses on Assault in the Fourth Degree as defined under RCW 9A.36.041, shedding light on its key aspects.

Defining Assault in the Fourth Degree: Assault in the Fourth Degree is a misdemeanor offense in Washington State, involving intentional harmful or offensive touching of another person without their consent. RCW 9A.36.041 outlines the elements that constitute this offense, making it crucial for individuals to understand its provisions and consequences.

Elements of Assault in the Fourth Degree: To establish a charge of Assault in the Fourth Degree, the following elements must be present:

  1. Intentional Touching: The accused person must have intentionally touched another individual. This includes a wide range of physical contact, such as hitting, striking, slapping, or any form of unwanted physical interaction.
  2. Harmful or Offensive: The touching must be harmful or offensive in nature. Harmful contact refers to physical injury or pain caused to the victim, while offensive contact violates the victim’s personal boundaries, even if it doesn’t cause physical harm.
  3. Lack of Consent: The touching must occur without the consent of the person being touched. Consent plays a crucial role in any physical contact, and the absence of consent is a significant factor in determining the offense.

Penalties for Assault in the Fourth Degree: Assault in the Fourth Degree is classified as a gross misdemeanor in Washington State. The penalties for this offense can vary based on the specific circumstances and the accused’s previous criminal history. However, a conviction for Assault in the Fourth Degree may result in the following consequences:

  1. Incarceration: The offender may face a jail sentence of up to 364 days. The actual duration of imprisonment depends on factors such as the severity of the assault and the defendant’s criminal history.
  2. Fines: A monetary penalty can be imposed as part of the sentence, ranging up to $5,000, based on the court’s discretion.
  3. Protection Orders: The court may issue a protection order to safeguard the victim from further harm. This order can include restrictions on contact, physical proximity, or other necessary conditions determined by the court.
  4. Probation: In certain cases, the court may order probation instead of or in addition to incarceration. This involves strict monitoring of the defendant’s behavior and adherence to specific conditions, such as attending counseling or anger management programs.
  5. Criminal Record: A conviction for Assault in the Fourth Degree results in a criminal record that can have long-lasting consequences. It may affect future employment prospects, housing opportunities, and various aspects of the individual’s life.

Defenses and Legal Counsel: If charged with Assault in the Fourth Degree, seeking legal representation promptly is crucial. An experienced criminal defense attorney can assess the case’s specifics and explore potential defenses, including self-defense, lack of intent, or consent. They can guide the accused through the legal process, protect their rights, and work towards achieving the best possible outcome.

Conclusion: Assault in the Fourth Degree, as outlined in RCW 9A.36.041, is a misdemeanor offense in Washington State that involves intentional harmful or offensive touching without consent. Understanding the elements and penalties associated with this offense is crucial for individuals to navigate the legal system and protect their rights. If facing charges, it is strongly recommended to consult with a knowledgeable attorney who can provide guidance and advocacy throughout the legal proceedings.

You can read RCW 9A.36.041

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About Blanford Law:

We are no-nonsense, relentless, fair, and honest. We are great listeners instead of fast talkers, that is just who we are. More than 20 years ago, Ken began practicing law with a deeply-seeded belief that every person has the right to the best legal representation available. He built his law firm on that belief. Another belief that he strongly adheres to is his fundamental belief that clients deserve respect, with no assumptions or preconceived notions.  If you or someone you know is accused of a crime or injured as a result of the negligence of another, please have them call us at 253-720-9304 or email us