Understanding Domestic Violence

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Dec 13

Lewis & Laws

Understanding Domestic Violence

by Lewis & Laws

Understanding Domestic Violence

What is Domestic Violence?

To legally qualify as domestic violence under Washington law, there must be a specific relationship between the defendant and the alleged victim in addition to the accusation.  While there is no single statute under Washington law which defines domestic violence, a number of codes contain a broad definition of the term. Title 26 identifies three types of domestic violence:

  • Stalking
  • Sexual assault
  • Physical harm or injury (or threat of physical harm or injury)

The relationships which qualify an act as domestic violence include a current or former spouse or domestic partner, a person with whom one has a child in common, a person with whom one has or had a dating relationship or other adult relatives.

Crimes committed against a household member which constitute domestic violence include assault, burglary, kidnapping, rape, stalking, criminal trespass, violence or the threat of violence.

Those Accused of Domestic Violence Have Rights

Accusations of domestic violence carry a certain social stigma, and a person accused of domestic violence may be found guilty in the court of public opinion regardless of actual legal guilt. Of course, the victim of domestic violence has rights; however, the defendant also has certain rights that police and prosecutors must always respect.

The state must prove that a crime occurred, and the defendant’s attorney will challenge evidence to ensure both sides of the story are properly heard. A careful review of witness statements will be a part of the defense, as will forensic evidence and police reports.

Civil Issues Related to Domestic Violence

In addition to criminal domestic violence charges, Washington statutes also address civil domestic violence issues which can take place while a criminal case is pending. Civil domestic violence issues can include those related to child custody, divorce, child support, landlord-tenant law and employment law, and can have an impact on future criminal domestic violence cases.

The state of Washington takes the issue of domestic violence very seriously, and the state can order both the defendants as well as the alleged victims to complete domestic violence programs, whether these are counseling programs or educational programs. Washington state provides perpetrator programs, as well as shelters for victims and their families. Domestic violence statistics are also reviewed by the Department of Social and Health Services.

What if You are Charged with Domestic Violence in Washington?

If you are charged with domestic violence, you must take these charges very seriously. Contact an experienced Seattle domestic violence attorney as soon as possible after being charged to ensure your rights are protected in the coming months. The process of domestic violence charges usually begins when a 911 call is made by an alleged victim. When the police arrive, both the alleged victim and the alleged perpetrator will be separately questioned to determine whether there is probable cause for an arrest.

If probable cause exists, the alleged offender will be arrested and placed in jail for 24-48 hours until he or she appears before a judge. If no charges are filed by the prosecutor, the alleged offender could be released under certain conditions, one of which is that charges could be filed in the future.

A no-contact order could also be put into place between the alleged offender and the alleged victim.  If charges are filed, then a plea will be entered at arraignment, a pre-trial conference will be scheduled, and motion hearings will determine whether the facts and evidence gathered are admissible at trial.  If the case is not resolved, a trial will be held.

The repercussions—both short and long-term—can include incarceration, fines, treatment programs, legal issues regarding child custody or child support, and can even impact a divorce. For all these reasons, make sure you are well-represented legally.

Are you Facing Accusations of Domestic Violence? Contact the Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers at Lewis & Laws, PLLC.

If you are facing accusations of domestic violence in Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Everett, or anywhere in the state of Washington, your future could be at stake. Contacting an experienced Seattle criminal defense lawyer is the key to fighting these serious charges. Let the experienced criminal defense lawyers at Lewis & Laws, PLLC fight aggressively for you and your future. Our lawyers have successfully defended clients in Seattle, Bellevue, and Kirkland. Contact us today at 206.209.0608 or fill out our online contact form to get more information or to get a free case review!

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