Washington Domestic Violence Related Crimes
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In Washington State, virtually any criminal charge may be labeled as a domestic violence related case if it is alleged to be a crime committed by one family or household member against another or between people with a dating relationship.
See RCW 10.99.020 for a definition of "family or household member" and RCW 26.50.010 for a definition of "dating relationship."
Some charges are more common as Washington DV crimes. The following crimes are ones we commonly see charged as domestic violence.
In Washington, assault is defined as an intentional touching of another person that is harmful or offensive regardless of whether any physical injury is caused.
A touching is considered offensive if it would offend an ordinary person who is not unduly sensitive.
An assault can also be an act done with unlawful force and the intent to create an apprehension and fear of bodily injury which does in fact create in another a reasonable apprehension and imminent fear of bodily injury (even if there was no intent to actually inflict bodily injury).
Assaults are defined by three degrees with various levels of severity and punishment:
- 4th Degree Assault – RCW 9A.36.041. Assault in the 4th degree is a gross misdemeanor and defined as an assault under circumstances not amounting to assault in the first, second, or third degree, or custodial assault.
- 3rd Degree Assault – RCW 9A.36.031. Assault in the 3rd degree is a Class C felony. For purposes of a Washington DV charge, assault in the 3rd degree is typically defined as causing, with criminal negligence, bodily harm to another person by means of a weapon or other instrument or thing likely to produce bodily harm; or, causing, with criminal negligence, bodily harm accompanied by substantial pain that extends for a period sufficient to cause considerable suffering.
- 2nd Degree Assault – RCW 9A.36.021. Assault in the 2nd degree is a Class B felony (unless with a sexual motivation – then Class A). While assault in the 2nd degree can be committed in various ways, the more common allegations in domestic violence related charges are: an intentional assault of another that recklessly inflicts substantial bodily harm; assault with a deadly weapon; knowingly inflicting bodily harm which by design causes such pain or agony as to be the equivalent of that produced by torture; and assault by strangulation.
- 1st Degree Assault – RCW 9A.36.011. Assault in the 1st degree is a Class A felony and is defined as, with intent to inflict great bodily harm; assaults another with a firearm or any deadly weapon or by any force or means likely to produce great bodily harm or death; or administers, exposes, or transmits to or causes to be taken by another, poison, the human immunodeficiency virus, or any other destructive or noxious substance; or assaults another and inflicts great bodily harm.
Harassment - RCW 9A.46.020
Washington harassment is defined as to knowingly and unlawfully threaten (when by words or conduct it places the person threatened to reasonably fear that the threat will be carried out) to:
- cause bodily injury in the future to another person;
- or cause physical damage to another person's property;
- or subject another person to physical confinement or restraint;
- or maliciously to do any act which is intended to substantially harm another person with respect to his or her physical or mental health or safety.
In most cases, harassment is a gross misdemeanor. However, if the threats are to kill the person threatened or any other person or there is a previous conviction for harassment of the same victim, victim's family or household member, or any person named in a no contact or no harassment order, then it is a class C felony.
Interfering with Reporting Domestic Violence - RCW 9A.36.150
Interfering with reporting domestic violence is committed when a person commits a crime of domestic violence and prevents or attempts to prevent the victim or a witness to that domestic violence crime from calling a 911 emergency communication system, obtaining medical assistance, or making a report to any law enforcement official.
Malicious Mischief – RCW 9A.48.070; 9A.48.080; 9A.48.090
In Washington, a person is guilty of malicious mischief if he or she knowingly and maliciously causes physical damage to the property of another.
- Malicious mischief in the 1st degree: Damage amount exceeding $5000 – Class B felony.
- Malicious mischief in the 2nd degree: Damage amount exceeds $750 – Class C felony.
- Malicious mischief in the 3rd degree: If damages under $750 – gross misdemeanor.
Violation of A No Contact Order - RCW 26.50.110.
A violation of an no contact or protection order is a gross misdemeanor in most circumstances, but may be a class C felony if the violation involved an assault, reckless behavior, or there is at least two previous convictions for violating a court order.