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RCW 9A.36.021 - Assault 2 (Assault in the Second Degree)

1. Definition and Elements of the Crime

A prosecutor can secure a conviction for assault in the second degree (assault 2) under RCW 9A.36.021 if the situation did not constitute assault in the first degree, but certain elements can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant must have done one of seven things: illegally and intentionally caused major bodily harm to an unborn child by intentionally injuring his or her mother, intentionally assaulted another person and recklessly caused major bodily harm, assaulted another person with the intent to commit a felony, administered a destructive or noxious substance while intending to inflict physical harm, assaulted another person with a deadly weapon, assaulted another person by strangulation or suffocation, or knowingly inflicted physical harm that by design caused enough agony or pain to equal the sensations of torture.

Assault in the second degree is usually a class B felony. However, if there is a finding of sexual motivation, you could be charged with a class A felony.

2. Examples

You could be charged with assault in the second degree if, for example, you use a beer bottle (potentially deadly weapon) in a bar fight. Similarly, if you strangled someone in a bar fight in a rage, you could face charges of assault in the second degree.

3. Related Offenses

Sometimes a victim of assault in the second degree sustains serious or catastrophic bodily injuries. Although the victim may survive the assault for a time, these injuries might prove fatal. There could be medical complications or even unanticipated secondary injuries. You could face homicide charges, including murder charges, if an assault in the second degree of another person eventually resulted in death. When there is an intimate, familial, or household relationship between the victim and you, you might face domestic violence charges. If a firearm was used, you could also face gun charges. For instance, if you have a prior conviction and are not allowed to carry a gun, but then you used a gun to assault someone you could face gun charges. Assault in this instance may mean to merely place them in reasonable apprehension of injury. This would be both a firearm enhanced Assault 2 and an unlawful possession of a firearm.

4. Defenses

An experienced attorney may be able to argue that your acts were not intentional. If conduct was merely criminally negligent, we may be able to get the prosecutor to offer a deal for assault in the third degree, which carries lesser penalties. Depending on the circumstances, we may be able to argue self-defense or defense of others. The force that you use to defend yourself or another person must be proportionate to the use of force against you. An attorney might be able to successfully establish this defense, for instance, if someone in a bar hit the defendant over the head with a beer stein, and the defendant responded by throwing them to the floor, which caused injuries to their spinal cord.

5. Penalties

If you are convicted of a class B felony, you could face a maximum of 10 years of imprisonment or a maximum fine of $20,000. If you are convicted of assault in the second degree that is sexually motivated, you could face class A felony charges, which are punished by up to life in prison and $50,000 in fines. (There is an exception for aggravated first-degree murder, which can lead to a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole). Firearm enhancements add 3 years on class B felonies and 5 years on class A felonies.

6. Criminal Defense for Second-Degree Assault Cases

Assault in the second degree is a very serious charge. You could face incarceration, and you should immediately retain an attorney. At Smith & White, PLLC, our Tacoma assault defense lawyers build strong defenses to charges brought under RCW 9A.36.021. We answer our phones 24/7 and offer free legal advice so that a client can consider their way forward. Representation with financing is available. Call us at (253) 203-1645 or complete our online form to tell us about your situation and find out more about how we can help you.

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