Bellevue Assault / DV Attorney Phil Weinberg Criminal Defense LawyerAssault 4 Defense

Dealing with an Assault 4 (Assault in the Fourth Degree) charge can be an upsetting experience — Attorney Phil Weinberg will help you navigate the challenges you face.

Assault 4 charges carry serious consequences in Washington. If you have been charged; or think you might be charged with assault, you need an experienced and effective defense attorney on your side. Having the right legal representation can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.

Attorney Phil Weinberg has been defending those accused of assault 4 in Washington for over 25 years. Call (425) 806-7200 today for a free consultation and case evaluation.

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About Assault 4 charges in Washington

The most common degree of assault charge in Washington State, Assault in the Fourth Degree is usually a tremendously stressful and distressing criminal charge to face. It is most often accompanied by a DV ‘tag’ or ‘label’ as — Assault 4 DV. These cases can result in the accused being kicked out of their home sometimes minutes after the police arrive to a 911 call of a “domestic disturbance” on a No-Contact Order (“NCO”) and the accused may be ordered to do burdensome classes.

If your lawyer does not really know his or her way around the system and the various local judges’ and prosecutors’ policies and tendencies in handling such cases, a conviction will result. A DV Assault conviction entails potentially disastrous employment, school and possible immigration consequences. These cases are very hard on the client’s whole family, which occasionally does not survive intact.

I will personally guide you through every stage of the case. I have numerous finely-honed defense approaches that are legitimate, impressively effective and generally will avoid both jail and conviction. I always have dismissals my first goal, but if that just isn’t possible in a particular case, I will either get you a dignified, livable plea bargain (deal) or fight the government relentlessly at trial if you want that all-out defense and if we have a decent chance of prevailing.

I also have one of the best criminal private investigators and a host of treatment providers whom I’ve worked with for decades hand-in-hand for their very best forensic efforts and reports to help me to defend you. Don’t settle for a beginner or a general practitioner. You deserve better. Assault is now the primary focus of my criminal defense practice. I have defended thousands of people charged with Assault 4 for well over 25 years.

Legal Basis

This is by far the most common degree of Washington State assault. It is a gross misdemeanor, not a felony, and is punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. Here is the statute:

RCW 9A.36.041
Assault in the Fourth Degree
(1) A person is guilty of assault in the fourth degree if, under circumstances not amounting to assault in the first, second, or third degree, or custodial assault, he or she assaults another.
(2) Assault in the fourth degree is a gross misdemeanor, except as provided in subsection (3) of this section.
(3) Assault in the fourth degree, where domestic violence was pleaded and proven after July 23, 2017, is a class C felony if the person has two or more prior adult convictions within ten years for any of the following offenses where domestic violence as defined in RCW 9.94A.030 was pleaded and proven after July 23, 2017:
(a) Repetitive domestic violence offense as defined in RCW 9.94A.030;
(b) Crime of harassment as defined by RCW 9A.46.060;
(c) Assault in the third degree;
(d) Assault in the second degree;
(e) Assault in the first degree; or
(f) An out-of-state comparable offense.
(4) For purposes of subsection (3) of this section, family or household members means 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, 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, and persons sixteen years of age or older with whom a person sixteen years of age or older has or has had a dating relationship.

Here is the legislative policy behind this crime’s RCW:

Finding—2017 c 272: “(1) The legislature finds that Washington state has a serious problem with domestic violence offender recidivism and lethality. The Washington state institute for public policy studied domestic violence offenders finding not just high rates of domestic violence recidivism but among the highest rates of general criminal and violent recidivism. The Washington state coalition against domestic violence has issued fatality reviews of domestic violence homicides in Washington under chapter 43.235 RCW for over fifteen years. These fatality reviews demonstrate the significant impact of domestic violence on our communities as well as the barriers and high rates of lethality faced by victims. The legislature further notes there have been several high profile domestic violence homicides with multiple prior domestic violence incidents not accounted for in the legal response. Many jurisdictions nationally have encountered the same challenges as Washington and now utilize risk assessment as a best practice to assist in the response to domestic violence.
The Washington domestic violence risk assessment work group is established to study how and when risk assessment can best be used to improve the response to domestic violence offenders and victims and find effective strategies to reduce domestic violence homicides, serious injuries, and recidivism that are a result of domestic violence incidents in Washington state.

Assault 4 may be accompanied by a DV Allegation (Domestic Violence) and in fact the overwhelming majority of assault 4’s are Assault 4 DV’s. They may be triable, or sometimes negotiated down to disorderly conduct if the allegations and criminal history are very minimal, or appropriate for a ‘slow dismissal’ via an SOC.

 

Assault 4 / DV & Some Defense Approaches

 

What is an SOC (Stipulated Order of Continuance)?

A somewhat common outcome in a non-felony domestic violence assault case (although this type of disposition can be used also in other non-felony cases, such as Assault 4 with Sexual Motivation, Reckless Endangerment, Theft 3, DWLS- 1st Degree – if a causal nexus between the license suspended/revoked driving and the type of treatment (e.g., alcohol/drugs, mental-health issues, etc.) – providing the court in question is one that hasn’t yet abolished the SOC dispositional entity, and also that the prosecutor will agree to it, is for the defendant to enter into what is known as a Stipulated Order of Continuance (“SOC”).

In an SOC, also occasionally used for other non-felony crimes, the defendant enters into a contractual agreement with the state, county or city government that is prosecuting the case, and with the court. If the defendant follows his/her end of the bargain, the state or city will move to dismiss the case at the end of the period of the agreement. But in some courts, like Issaquah Municipal Court, the defendant or defense attorney must file a motion for that at the end of the SOC deferral period). The benefit of this alternative is that at the end of the period of deferral, if all conditions have been met, the case is dismissed. The drawbacks are the expenditures of time and money necessary to complete the conditions, the almost automatic finding of guilt if the conditions are not met and other less tangible down sides as well. Though each court has its own way of administering SOC’s, sometimes also calling them dispositional continuances or court monitored deferrals (CMD), there are some very common requirements and themes regardless of the jurisdiction of the case.

1. Domestic Violence and Batterers’ or Other Treatment.
All SOC’s will require the individual to undergo some form of treatment. As a general rule, successful completion of an SOC will require participation in and completion of a state approved domestic violence or batterer’s treatment program. In some cases, depending on the court, the prosecutor and the wishes of the victim, the type and scope of the treatment program can be negotiated. This means that, if agreed upon, the SOC could be fulfilled by completing a less stringent anger management program. Or possibly alcohol counseling. Usually the state and the court will require batterer’s treatment before it will agree to an SOC. But that is not always the case. Be sure to review all of your counseling options before entering into an SOC. (NOTE: For other types of non-DV non-felony cases where an SOC disposition is taken, such as in a Theft 3 shoplifting charge, the “treatment” may consist only of some community service hours, and/or a Theft/Consumer Awareness Workshop). In some cases, psychological counseling and/or medical treatment for any medical conditions that contributed to the client’s alleged criminal act(s), such as TBI (traumatic brain injury, as just one example). Certain types of case-specific perpetrator treatment programs are utilized to get the SOC when appropriate, too. Occasionally, one can get an SOC with no treatment – just abide by all laws (“no further criminal law violations”) and after some multiple of 6 months, usually (but not always) 18 or 24 months, the case is dismissed. That dismissal usually requires attending one final hearing with me at the end, which certain courts require us to set up while others schedule them for us and send out notice.

2. Alcohol Evaluation and recommended treatment follow-up.
This category deserves special mention because it could potentially be ordered in one of three ways to assure compliance with the SOC. The first is that a domestic violence treatment facility could require that the individual undergo alcohol treatment as part of or even prior to entry into their or another acceptable DV treatment provider’s DVBT (state-certified Domestic Violence batterers’ treatment) batterer’s program. It also could be required separately by the court or prosecutor as part of the SOC agreement. Finally, it could be agreed upon in lieu of batterer’s treatment. Regardless, anyone seriously considering entry into an SOC should obtain an alcohol evaluation first in order to best know what will be expected should the SOC be sought.

3. Imposition of a No Contact Order (NCO).
Some but not all courts/prosecutors will require that an order prohibiting contact with the victim be put in place as a condition of the SOC. Others will want an NCO in place until a certain amount of counseling has been completed. Still others don’t make an NCO part of the SOC at all. This is truly taken on a case by case and jurisdiction by jurisdiction basis. The important thing to remember here is that if no contact is made part of the agreement, violation of the order would have two fold consequences. The first is that the violation could cause the SOC to be revoked which would result, most likely, in an automatic finding of guilt on the underlying DV charge. The second is that it would constitute a whole crime called Violation of a No Contact Order. If entering into an SOC, always try to negotiate the NCO out of the agreement or at a bare minimum, set up as part of the SOC a timeline in which the NCO can be removed. This will help protect yourself and your SOC as you move forward.

3. Probation
Probation is simply the court’s way of monitoring an individual’s compliance progress with the SOC conditions. Some courts do this by setting up administrative review dates whereby the file is reviewed. If compliance is found, no action is taken. If there is evidence of non-compliance, a more formal review hearing is set. Other courts use a probation department to monitor compliance. In these courts, the defendant will very likely have to meet or have communication with, on a semi-regular basis, a probation officer. Every probation department and probation officer is different. Try to learn as much about how your SOC will be overseen. The difference between a laissez-faire court administrative review process and a highly active and interested probation officer i extreme. Know not only what will be expected of you but who is expecting it before agreeing to an SOC.

5. Stipulation to police report upon revocation.
The court sets up guarantees that if an individual fails to comply with the agreed terms of an SOC, that the process of obtaining a conviction is swift and certain. To that end, in order to be accepted into an SOC, the defendant must agree to the admissibility of the police report should the SOC be revoked as well as the sufficiency of the evidence contained therein to support a conviction. This means that if a person is revoked from a Stipulated Order of Continuance, the court has been authorized ahead of time to simply review the report and that all parties agree that report should support a conviction. Translated: those that fail to comply with the terms of the SOC are almost always found guilty of the DV charge.

There are a variety of other less affirmative conditions that the court will impose as part of the SOC. The person will be ordered to pay certain court costs, assessments and probation fees. There will be a prohibition on committing any new criminal law violations, and possession of weapons will be prohibited, among some other things. There really is no limit to the kinds of things the parties can agree upon as part of an SOC. If truly considering this alternative you and you lawyer owe it to you to find a creative solution that gives you the best chance of success while at the same time, minimizing any risk exposure.

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DEFERRED SENTENCES:
A deferred sentence is very similar, also ending with no state law conviction per se, and also usually involving no jail as with a lasting, suspended sentence which should generally be avoided whenever possible. A deferred sentence may last only 6, 12, or 18 months, at the judge’s discretion (and usually by agreement with the prosecution), but most are for 24 months. The SOC and the deferred sentence dispositions can sometimes, though not very often, also be done on a reduced charge, such as Disorderly Conduct, occasionally even with the DV label (“DV Tag”) removed (a major good thing) if the prosecutor can be so persuaded.

Call Attorney Phil Weinberg at (425) 806-7200. During your free initial consultation, attorney Phil Weinberg will meet with you to discuss the issues you are facing.

Building a Sound Defense for Your Assault 4 Case

As your defense attorney, my objective is to protect your rights and reputation. After establishing a thorough understanding of the details of your specific situation, I will advise you on the steps we must take to build the strongest defense for your unique case.

As with any case, my primary goal is to identify credible reasons to have the charges against you dismissed. Examples of this may be that you were acting in self-defense, defense of others or defense of your property. The next step is to engage in negotiations to avoid conviction and prevent or minimize the penalties you face. A strategic negotiation can often avoid or reduce sanctions such as fines, treatment requirements or jail time.

Don’t face an Assault 4 charge alone, call Attorney Phil Weinberg

As a skilled Criminal Defense Attorney, I will put my expertise in defending against assault charges in King and Snohomish counties to work for you. If you are charged with assault in Bellevue, Everett, Lynnwood, Kirkland, Issaquah, Mercer Island, Seattle, Redmond, Kent, Federal Way, Woodinville, Monroe, Bothell, Edmonds, Mountlake Terrace, Shoreline, Marysville or Arlington; call me, Attorney Phil Weinberg, at (425) 806-7200 today for a thorough initial consultation and case evaluation at no cost.