Assault with sexual motivation is a serious crime under Washington law. The crime essentially includes two components: (1) an assault; and, (2) a sexual motivation enhancement. This enhancement can drastically increase the penalty for the underlying assault. Thus, it’s critical to contact an experienced Seattle or Washington criminal defense attorney now if you’re facing this charge.
Assault in a Criminal Defense Case
It’s not possible to charge an accused with assault with sexual motivation unless there is evidence of an assault. Washington law says that an “assault” can be committed in three different ways: 1) intentionally making harmful or offensive contact with another person; 2) attempting to injure another person; and, 3) intentionally creating the fear of injury in another person. To successfully prove that a person assaulted another, a prosecutor must show essentially that the accused intentionally created unwanted physical contact or performed some act that caused a victim to fear actual harm. Note that assault does not have to include a weapon or actual physical harm. The mere proof of a threatening act that would cause a person to believe harm was present could be enough for an assault charge.
There are four degrees of Assault under Washington law. Assault 4 is the least severe charge and is a gross misdemeanor. Assault 1, 2 and 3 are more serious charges and are all felonies. The use of firearms or other deadly weapons drastically increases the seriousness of assault charges.
The penalties for assault include both lengthy prison sentences and heavy fines. For example, a conviction for Assault 1 is punishable by a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $50,000 fine. Penalties also increase if the assault was done in connection with domestic violence or takes place against a child.
Sexual Motivation Enhancement
Under Washington law, a sexual motivation enhancement can be added to non-sex offenses. “Sexual motivation” is defined by statute to mean “that one of the purposes for which the defendant committed the crime was for the purpose of his or her sexual gratification.” Prosecutors attempt to prove that sexual motivation was present by using the specific facts of a case.
If this proof is made, beyond a reasonable doubt, then it will increase the penalty for the underlying assault. For example, if an assault is a class A felony, such as assault in the first degree, a finding of sexual motivation will add a mandatory two years to the ultimate sentence. For a class B felony, 18 months will be added, and for a class C felony, one year. Further, if the underlying assault is a felony, sexual motivation enhancements require the accused to register as a sex offender.
Criminal Defenses are Available
If you or a loved one has been charged with assault with sexual motivation, please know that legal defenses are available. For example, an experienced criminal defense attorney can assert that no underlying assault took place. Further, depending on the facts of a given case, a criminal defense lawyer can challenge any prosecutor’s allegation that an accused’s actions were sexually motivated.
Please know that the proven criminal defense attorneys at Black Law are here to help. Our Seattle assault lawyers have over two decades of combined experience with assisting clients fight assault charges – this includes the charge of assault with sexual motivation. Do yourself a favor and contact Black Law now. Let our defense attorneys provide you with tireless representation that makes a difference.