Assault Domestic Violence Misdemeanor


There are four degrees of assault in Washington’s criminal code.  Assault in the first degree, assault in the second degree, Assault in the third degree, and Assault in the fourth degree.

The lowest level of assault is Assault in the fourth degree. Assault in the fourth degree is a gross misdemeanor. The other degrees of assault are felonies.  Assault in the fourth degree domestic violence is also often referred to as “misdemeanor assault” or “Assault DV.”

Assault in the fourth degree is defined by statute: “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.”

Very generally, assaults in the first, second and third degree usually involve some injury, a weapon or other serious use of force.  4th degree Assault does not require injury.


The legal definition of assault is broader than what people normally think.  “Assault” can be committed in different ways:

Assaulting someone. An intentional harmful or offensive touching of another person that would offend an ordinary person.  No injury required

Example: a push or a shove
Trying to assault someone, but failing. Using force intending to inflict bodily injury with the apparent ability to do so but not accomplishing it.
Example: Throwing a punch that missed.
Example: Shooting at someone, but missing.
Making someone think they will be assaulted. Taking a physical action intending to make the other person think they will be assaulted even if the actor doesn’t really intend to assault them.

Example:  driving a car at someone and swerving away at the last minute.

Example: throwing a punch and deliberately stopping short of the victim’s face.

Example: pointing a gun at someone


The relationship between the defendant and the alleged victim can convert a crime into a domestic violence offense.   If the defendant and the alleged victim are “family or household members” or “intimate partners”, the charge is classified as a domestic violence offense.

“Family or household members” are: (a) Adult persons related by blood or marriage; (b) adult persons who are presently residing together or have resied together in the past; and (c) persons who have biological or legal parent-child relationship, including stepparents and stepchildren and grandparents and grandchildren.”

“Intimate partner” means: (a) Spouses, or domestic partners; (b) former spouses, or former domestic partners; (c) persons who have a child in common regardless of whether they have been married or have lived together at any time; (d) adult persons presently or previously residing together or who have resided together in the past and who have or have had a dating relationship; and (f) persons sixteen years of age or older with whom a person sixteen years of age or older has or has had a dating relationship.

A domestic violence conviction can result in several possible unique outcomes:

  •   Domestic violence treatment
  •   Firearm surrender and firearm rights revocation
  •   Payment of a domestic violence assessment
  •   Domestic Violence no contact order
  •   Penalties for re-offense can be strict
  •   Sentencing outcomes can be more severe


Our domestic violence attorneys at Burke Brown Attorneys, PLLC have been representing people accused of domestic violence and people impacted by domestic violence charges for over 20 years in courts in Seattle, the Eastside, King County and Western Washington.  We know domestic violence and help our clients to a good outcome.  Please feel free to call us at (206) 933-2414