What Are the Differences Between Assault & Battery

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Nov 07

Lewis & Laws

What Are the Differences Between Assault & Battery

by Lewis & Laws

In Washington, battery is not a part of the state’s laws. Instead, the crime of battery is a part of the larger umbrella of assault. In other states, assault and battery are two similar but distinct crimes. 

In general, assault is the intentional threat of unlawful force against another person. Battery is the actual use of unlawful force against another person. These two terms are often used together as many crimes involve both threat and physical violence. 

If you’re facing charges of assault or battery, you must immediately call an experienced criminal defense attorney to fight these serious allegations. Do not give up or fail to take these charges seriously. You can fight back and protect your future with the right defense lawyer on your side. 

Elements of Assault

If you’re facing assault charges, you must understand what these charges mean and what the prosecution must prove to obtain a conviction. To prove an assault, the prosecution must show that you: 

Intended to harm the victim 

Made a threat of unlawful force

Caused the victim to apprehend harm

The threat of unlawful force can be made verbally, through gestures, or by displaying a weapon. It does not matter whether you actually intended to carry out the threat. Also, it doesn’t matter if you physically touched or harmed the other person. As long as the victim reasonably feared that they were about to be harmed, the crime of assault has been committed. 

Types of Assault in Washington State

There are four degrees of assault in Washington State, classified by the severity of the harm inflicted or the intent.

Assault in the First Degree (RCW 9A.36.011): This is the most serious form of assault and involves intentionally causing serious bodily harm to another person or using a deadly weapon. It is a Class A felony. If you’re convicted of assault in the first degree, you could spend up to life in prison with fines up to $50,000.

Assault in the Second Degree (RCW 9A.36.021): This involves intentionally causing substantial bodily harm to another person, assaulting certain protected individuals (like law enforcement officers), or using a deadly weapon. It is a Class B felony. If you’re convicted, you could spend up to 10 years in prison and pay up to $20,000 in fines. 

Assault in the Third Degree (RCW 9A.36.031): This includes knowingly causing bodily harm to another person, assaulting a special victim (like a healthcare provider or school employee), or assaulting someone with criminal intent. It is a Class C felony. You face consequences of up to 5 years in prison and $10,000 in fines. 

Assault in the Fourth Degree (RCW 9A.36.041): This is a less severe form of assault and includes actions like causing pain or injury to another person or recklessly causing harm to another. Assault in the fourth degree can be charged as a gross misdemeanor or a Class C felony, depending on the circumstances.

Elements of Battery

In Washington, battery falls under the umbrella of assault crimes. It is not treated as a different crime like other states do. Battery is a criminal offense that involves the intentional and unlawful application of force or physical contact upon another person without their consent. This could be a slap across the face or a punch to the face during a bar fight. The physical contact can be any intentional or reckless touching of the victim, even if it does not cause any injury. For example, spitting on someone or throwing something at them could be considered battery.

Many cases of battery are charged as fourth-degree assault. It is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and $5,000 in fines. 

Contact Our Experienced Seattle Assault Lawyers Today

If you’ve been charged with assault or battery, you need an aggressive legal team to fight for your rights. At Lewis & Laws, our Seattle assault attorneys know that these serious charges can destroy your life and future if you’re convicted. That’s why we fight back aggressively to expose the holes in the prosecution’s case against you. 

At Lewis & Laws, we offer aggressive legal assistance after an assault or battery arrest in Seattle, Bellevue, Everett, and Washington State. Contact us today to explore your legal options. Protect your future and call us today



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