Practice Area:  Criminal

Description:   Our client was charged with Domestic Violence Assault in the 4th degree (DV Assault 4) in District Court. This client held a professional license and was in jeopardy of losing her job and marriage. This was a highly stressful situation for our client, with so much on the line. After investigation identified critical flaws in the city’s case, the case was dismissed at the trial readiness hearing.

Outcome:  Assault 4 charges dismissed

Message:  Emotions often run high around the holidays, on all sides of the spectrum. While some are immersed in yuletide joy, others are experiencing elevated levels of tension, stress, and irritability. Be mindful of your emotions, your behavior, and the potentially life changing consequences of letting a domestic dispute escalate out of control. Such a dispute can quickly result in criminal charges.

Domestic Violence Assault in the 4th degree (DV Assault 4) is the most common DV (domestic violence) charge in Washington State and it doesn’t take much to be charged. “Assault” is broadly defined by case law as “any unwanted touching” and the law states the contact must be considered offensive by a reasonable person. DV Assault 4 charges may be filed when there are allegations of a minor injury or even no injury at all. If police are called to the scene and there is any indicator that unwanted touching has occurred, an arrest will take place. State law in fact requires the police to arrest the primary aggressor if they have probable cause to believe there was an assault within the last four hours.

Conviction of DV Assault 4 charge may lead to serious consequences. As a gross misdemeanor, an Assault 4 conviction can result in jail time of up to 364 days and a $5,000 fine. A DV specification on an Assault 4 charge is likely to come with enhanced penalties. Relationships and marriages are tested and employment is often compromised. Our client in this case example stood to potentially lose both her marriage and her job. In addition to fines and jail time, a DV Assault 4 conviction may lead to a loss of your right to possess firearms. The court may also order a DV treatment program and a no-contact order, potentially keeping you away from your loved ones and even from your own home.

See our prior blog posting for more information about assault charges in Washington State, including categories and penalties.

Be aware of your own behavior, recognize that the bar is low for Assault 4 arrests and charges, and understand the magnitude of the potential repercussions.  If you find yourself in a situation where things have escalated and you are facing potential charges, be sure to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney directly after your arrest. These are significant charges and you should not try to tackle them without experienced counsel to advise you appropriately and advocate on your behalf.