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Spousal Assault and Domestic Violence

Criminal Defense Attorneys Advocating for People in Tacoma and Beyond

Marriage is not always easy, and it is not uncommon for married couples to have disagreements. In some cases, however, a simple quarrel can escalate into a physical fight. Under Washington law, if a person harms or threatens to harm a family or household member, he or she can be charged with domestic violence. A domestic violence conviction can undermine your personal life and can also dramatically impair your rights. If you were recently charged with spousal assault and domestic violence, it is critical to engage a skilled Tacoma domestic violence lawyer to analyze the circumstances surrounding your arrest and any defenses that may be available. The attorneys at Smith & White can provide you with aggressive representation. We assist people throughout Pierce, King, Kitsap, and Thurston Counties.

Family Disputes Can Result In Allegations Of Spousal Assault and Domestic Violence

Under the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 10.99.020, any criminal act committed by one family or household member against another constitutes domestic violence. Family or household members include parties who are currently married or who were previously married. Thus, any assault or battery committed by a person against his or her spouse constitutes domestic violence. Battery is not defined by statute but has been interpreted by the courts to mean an assault that results in unlawful touching with criminal intent. In the domestic violence context, spousal assault typically involves an altercation in which a person punches or hits his or her spouse.

Spousal assault may be charged as assault in the first, second, or third degree, but it is typically charged as assault in the fourth degree, as defined by RCW 9A.36.041. If you are accused of spousal assault and domestic violence, it is critical to meet with an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss how you should fight the charges.

Penalties for a Conviction of Spousal Assault

The penalties imposed for a spousal assault and domestic violence conviction depend on the exact charges against the defendant. The degree of assault with which a defendant is charged primarily depends on the harm that the victim purportedly sustained. In most cases in which it is alleged that a simple altercation occurred, the defendant will be charged with assault in the fourth degree, which is a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days of imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000. In certain circumstances, however, such as when the defendant was convicted as an adult two or more times within the last 10 years, or when the assault constitutes repeat domestic violence, assault in the fourth degree will be charged as a Class C felony, which is punishable by imprisonment for up to five years and a fine of up to $10,000.

In cases in which it is alleged that the battery that the defendant committed against the victim caused great bodily harm, RCW 9A.36.011 provides that it is an assault in the first degree. Assault in the first degree is a Class A felony. A person convicted of assault in the first degree can face up to life in prison and a fine of up to $50,000. Assault in the second degree is charged in cases in which the victim suffered substantial bodily harm, and it is a class B felony punishable by up to 10 years of imprisonment and a fine of $20,000. Assault in the third degree involves criminal negligence and is a Class C felony.

Consult an Experienced Domestic Violence Defense Attorney in the Tacoma Area

A domestic violence conviction can dramatically affect your life and impair your liberties. If you are charged with spousal assault and domestic violence, it is essential to engage a skilled Tacoma attorney to assist you in formulating compelling arguments to help you protect your rights. The experienced domestic violence defense attorneys at The Law Offices of Smith & White, PLLC, will diligently pursue the best legal result possible under the facts of your case. We have an office in Tacoma and are available by appointment at our second office in Vashon. You can contact us through our online form or at 253-363-8662 to set up a private meeting to discuss your case at no cost.