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What is the difference between Assault 4 and Assault of a Child in Washington State?

Tacoma, WA |

When my child was 3 months old she was hit in the face by her caregiver. She left her let side of the face swollen, bruised, and a scratch. They are trying to sentence her with a treatment focus plan after evaluation to give her treatment for a drug and alcohol treatment 8 months after this happened. Since it is the state against her is there anything as the mother I can do to stand up for my babies rights since no one else is?

Attorney Answers 1


  1. In Washington State Criminal law, there are three levels of offenses called Assault of a Child. First degree assault of a child is where the child is under the age of thirteen and the person:

    (a) Commits the crime of assault in the first degree, as defined in RCW 9A.36.011, against the child; or

    (b) Intentionally assaults the child and either:

    (i) Recklessly inflicts great bodily harm; or

    (ii) Causes substantial bodily harm, and the person has previously engaged in a pattern or practice either of (A) assaulting the child which has resulted in bodily harm that is greater than transient physical pain or minor temporary marks, or (B) causing the child physical pain or agony that is equivalent to that produced by torture.

    First degree assault of a child is a Class A felony. The maximum penalty is up to life imprisonment, but no one ever gets that sentence on their firs offense.

    Second degree assault of a child is where the child is under the age of thirteen and the person:

    (a) Commits the crime of assault in the second degree, as defined in RCW 9A.36.021, against a child; or

    (b) Intentionally assaults the child and causes bodily harm that is greater than transient physical pain or minor temporary marks, and the person has previously engaged in a pattern or practice either of (i) assaulting the child which has resulted in bodily harm that is greater than transient pain or minor temporary marks, or (ii) causing the child physical pain or agony that is equivalent to that produced by torture.

    This is a class B felony with a maximum term of 10 years in imprisonment.

    Third degree assault of a child is where the child is under the age of thirteen and the person commits the crime of assault in the third degree as defined in RCW 9A.36.031(1) (d) or (f) against the child. That is to say, where the assault committed negligently causes a serious injury to the child. This is a class c felony with a five year prison term maximum.

    Assault in the 4th degree is a simile assault, a touching, a pushing, a slapping, or a punch which does not cause any permanent or lasting scars or injuries. This is a gross misdemeanor punishable by a max of 365 days in jail. Since this is not a felony, the offender gets local county-based jail time as opposed to state prison time.

    It sounds like you are advocating for your child to receive justice in this situation. One idea is that you can seek your own legal counsel to coordinate with the prosecutor. This will give you greater access to what is happening in court. You can also contact the prosecutor's victim advocate for help or go to some of the numerous community-based victim advocacy groups for help.