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What is the difference between a domestic violence city assault and a domestic violence 4th degree assault in WA state?

Spokane, WA |

My friend was choked by her son's dad, with a witness. The police arrested him and charged him with Domestic Violence City Assault. I am told that is a lesser offense than a Domestic Violence 4th Degree Assault. Wondering if that is true?

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Attorney answers 1


Domestic Violence (DV) in and of itself is not a crime in Washington. However, under the Revised Code of Washington 26.50.010, any crime can be considered a crime of "domestic violence" if it is between "family or household members" or individuals in a "dating relationship". The statues discusses in detail these classifications, but clearly if the defendant is the father of the victim's child, it would constitute a crime of DV. In Washington, "choking" a victim can easily be a second degree assault, which is a felony and is much more serious than a fourth degree assault. However, if the defendant was only charged with fourth degree assault he is facing a gross misdemeanor offense, with a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $5000 fine. Additionally adding the DV designation to this offense would make the defendant ineligible to possess firearms. Dropping the DV desination here would not make it a lesser offense. Forth degree assault with or without the DV designation is still a gross misdemeanor. However, without the DV designation, the defendant would not be automatically ineligble to possess firearms (though even without the designation, that could still be a condition of a sentence if he enters a plea or is convicted).