Assault charges vary greatly in terms of situation and seriousness. Being charged with assault can be confusing, upsetting, and life-changing. Whether it is self-defense, defense of another person, a lapse in judgment, or something else that led to the assault charge, you will need strong legal representation to navigate your charges, defend your rights, and fight for the best possible outcome.

Assault in the 4th Degree (Assault 4) and Domestic Violence Assault in the 4th Degree (DV Assault 4) are characterized as Gross Misdemeanor charges. The penalties and consequences of a conviction can be life changing.

Understand the law:

Fourth Degree Assault (Assault 4) – RCW 9A.36.041

  • A person may be charged with Fourth Degree Assault if he/she assaults another person under circumstances not amounting to First, Second, or Third Degree Assault
  • No injury needs to occur for Assault 4 charges to be filed. The requirement is that the contact be considered “offensive by an ordinary person”
  • This is a Gross Misdemeanor
  • Penalties: A conviction may result in fines up to $5,000 and jail time ranging from 0-364 days. The court may also order anger management or drug treatment classes, and/or may resolve the case through probation.

Domestic Violence Assault in the Fourth Degree (DV Assault 4)

  • A DV specification on an Assault 4 charge is likely to come with enhanced penalties.
  • Like Assault 4 (non-DV), DV Assault 4 is a Gross Misdemeanor and a conviction can result in up to 364 days of jail time and a $5,000 fine.
  • In addition, a DV Assault 4 conviction may lead to a loss of rights to possess firearms.
  • The court may also order a domestic violence treatment program and a no-contact order, keeping the accused away from their loved ones and even their home.

Understand the threshold for arrest:

  • The truth is it doesn’t take much to be arrested on a DV Assault 4 charge in Washington State. This is the most comment domestic violence charge in WA.
  • “Assault” is generally defined by case law as “any unwanted touching” and the law states that the contact must be considered offensive by a reasonable person.
  • If police are called to a scene and there is any indicator that unwanted touching has occurred, an arrest will take place.
  • State law requires the police to arrest the primary aggressor if they have probable cause to believe there was an assault within the last four hours.
  • DV Assault 4 charges do not require an injury to take place. DV Assault charges are filed when there are allegations of a minor injury or no injury at all.

Involve legal counsel as quickly as possible:

Be aware of your own behavior at all times, and especially in times of significant conflict or stress. Recognize the bar is low for Assault 4 arrests and charges and understand the magnitude of the potential repercussions. Consequences can be severe and life-altering. If you are charged with Assault 4 or DV Assault 4, be sure to contact an experienced 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.