Phil Weinberg’s Assault/DV FAQ
1) What’s the difference between Assault and Battery?
Many linguistic pedants try to use a strict definition of assault vs battery, saying Assault means to cause fear (such as swinging your fist at someone’s face, but stopping before actual contact is made) while Battery means to actually strike, (such as sneaking up behind someone, and punching the back of their head)
However, In Washington the legal definition of Assault includes Battery. A person commits the crime of Assault in the Fourth Degree, which is a misdemeanor simply by hitting, touching, or attempting to injure another; or intentionally placing another in fear of injury by some physical act.
2) What makes an Assault a Felony?
Assaults that cause serious or substantial bodily harm, as well as those against children under the age of 13 and people while working in particular jobs, are felonies.
The degree of assault Third through First and the level of felony Class C through Class A is determined by the most serious aggravating factor; so if someone attempting to (1)evade arrest uses a (2)stun gun on a (3)police officer in a (4)courthouse the 4 different aggravating factors do not add together, so it’s still only a Class ‘C’ felony. (However, you won’t have made any friends in the court that day!) However, shooting a hobo in a trainyard is a Class ‘A’ felony, just from the use of a firearm alone. Also, using a gun also can add a ‘Firearm Enhancement’ that can add 5 years to the prison sentence.
Second Degree assault has a special aggravating factor, ‘Sexual Motivation‘ which boosts it to a class ‘A’ felony.
3) Assault of a child
In Washington, a person over the age of 18 commits the crime of assault of a child, a felony, by causing injury against a person under the age of 13. Assault of a Child starts at a Class C Felony, and other factors may make it more severe.
4) What is “Serious Bodily Harm”?
Injuries requiring medical treatment such as broken bones. However if there is an allegation of choking, even with very little physical evidence, the suspect will likely be charged with a felony Second Degree Assault.
5) What counts as a “Deadly Weapon”?
Obviously, this includes any explosive or firearm, even if unloaded; knives, swords and crossbows. But includes any other dangerous object, such as hammers, screwdrivers, or other tools, and also including vehicles which is readily capable of causing death or serious bodily harm.
6) Protected Victims
This group includes Bus drivers, Firefighters, Police Officers, Medical Workers, Court Staff. However, assaulting someone in one of these jobs makes the assault a Felony as well. However, usually this only applies if it’s done to intentionally interfere with their duties; so if they are off the clock, out of uniform, off the work site, etc. this aggravating factor doesn’t apply.
7) Poisons and body fluids
Poisoning someone is Second Degree Assault, which is a Felony “With intent to inflict bodily harm, administers to or causes to be taken by another, poison or any other destructive or noxious substance”; someone else’s body fluids are definitely Noxious!
8) Reckless Endangerment
Washington’s laws also recognize a related crime called reckless endangerment. A person commits the crime of reckless endangerment by recklessly engaging in conduct that creates a risk of death or serious physical injury, such as waving a loaded gun around.
9) Domestic Violence
Assault and reckless endangerment between family and household members is domestic violence. Family and household members include spouses, former spouses, people who have children together, people related by blood or marriage, adults who live together or have lived together, and people who are or have been in a dating relationship.