Washington State Assault in the 4th Degree (Domestic Violence)
Domestic violence” is defined as:
1. Physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault, between family or household members;

2. sexual assault of one family or household member by another;or

3. stalking as defined in RCW 9A.46.110 of one family or household member by another family or household member. RCW 26.50.010(1)

“Family or household members” is defined as spouses, domestic partners, former spouses, former domestic partners, persons who have a child in common regardless of whether they have been married or have lived together at any time, adult persons related by blood or marriage, adult persons who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past, persons sixteen years of age or older who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past and who have or have had a dating relationship, persons sixteen years of age or older with whom a person sixteen years of age or older has or has had a dating relationship, and persons who have a biological or legal parent-child relationship, including stepparents and stepchildren and grandparents and grandchildren. RCW 26.50.010(2)

“Dating relationship” is defined as a social relationship of a romantic nature. Factors that the court may consider in making this determination include: (a) The length of time the relationship has existed; (b) the nature of the relationship; and (c) the frequency of interaction between the parties. RCW 26.50.010(3)

Washington “no-contact” order

Domestic violence laws were created to protect the alleged “victim” which I refer to as the “complaining witness.” The judge is authorized
by statue to enter a no-contact order, and mandate the defendant to appear for arraignment the day after arrest, prohibit the possession of firearms and basically set any other condition that the judges thinks is necessary to protect the complaining witness. It is important to show up with an attorney at arraignment. If your attorney is fully informed of the situation, the attorney may be able limit several of the conditions.

Assault in the 4th Degree (Domestic Violence) penalties

Assault in the 4th Degree (Domestic Violence) is a Gross Misdemeanor: meaning the maximum penalties are one-year of jail and a $5,000 dollar fine.

Domestic violence cases can also be filed as felonies and/or misdemeanors. For the purposes of this discussion we are talking about Assault 4, which is a Gross Misdemeanor and probably the most common charge. If you have questions about other methods of charging please contact me.

Other consequences caused by a conviction of Assault in the 4th Degree (Domestic Violence)

A guilty plea or a conviction can have several other serious consequences, some more obvious than others. Each consequence should be explored with your attorney before any please is entered or trial is set.

  • For non-citizens a conviction can lead to deportation or harm your chances of naturalization
  • The prohibition of possessing firearms
  • Probation
  • No contact orders
  • Treatment
  • Restitution

Alternatives to a conviction of Washington Domestic Violence

  • Convince the government to dismiss or win at trial
  • Stipulated Order of Continuance – Defendant and prosecution agree to certain terms of probation and if accepted by the Court and the terms and conditions are complied with prior to the expiration of probation, the case may be dismissed.

If I get arrested for Domestic Violence Charge:

  • Do not try to contact the complaining witness. No: Text messages, emails, phone call, letters or even having a friend contact them. Those all can be considered violations of the no-contact order
  • Do not return to the scene. If you must, have a police officer or sheriff escort you.
  • Do not make statements to the police or prosecution
  • Do contact to a lawyer ASAP
  • Do take pictures of any injuries you may have suffered.
  • Do take detailed notes of what happened that night.

What should I expect at a Domestic Violence Arraignment?

It is your first court appearance and the beginning of the criminal process. You will either be brought before the judge or if you have been released or bailed out your will show up in court at the designated time. You will be asked to enter a plea of Guilty or Not Guilty. If you have a lawyer he or she will do that for you. Likely you will always want to plea not guilty. A
plea of not guilty will not hurt you, it is actually expected. The judge likely will impose a no-contact order. If your lawyer is with you, it is possible he can stop this from occurring. The Court will consider your release and/or the conditions of release. The Court next will schedule a pretrial date. It is important to take note that a defendant must be present for the arraignment in a domestic violence case.


More Information on Domestic Violence and Related Articles

October is Washington State Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is domestic violence Month, and domestic violence assaults have been in our media more than ever in the last few months. We all heard about the Ray Rice incident, but what do we know about domestic violence? Seattle Seahawk Quarterback Russell Wilson has apparently declared himself the spokesperson for anti-domestic violence. However, before we […]