What to Do if You've Been Charged with a Domestic Violence Crime
What to Do if You’ve Been Charged with a Domestic Violence Crime
While domestic abuse is certainly a problem in the United States, often the current domestic violence justice system can be confusing and even unfair. A single 911 call sets the wheels in motion, with mandatory arrests, no bail jail holds, mandatory court hearings and no contact orders. Even without corroboration of any type—whether an eyewitness, an injury, or even support from the alleged victim—a domestic violence charge can move forward, totally destroying the life of the accused.
How You Could Find Yourself Behind Bars, Charged with Domestic Violence
For most of us, the term “domestic violence” conjures up the image of an inebriated husband beating his long-suffering wife on a regular basis. What many people do not realize, is that something as relatively harmless as a mild push (even if the push is simply to remove an angry, screaming person from your personal space) can be classified—and prosecuted—as domestic abuse. In fact, domestic abuse charges may include harassment, destruction of property, and interfering with a domestic violence report, and may have no element of physical violence.
Immediate Consequences of Domestic Violence Charges
If you are accused of domestic violence—whether the charges are true or not—you will likely suffer immediate deprivation of certain rights. You could spend days in jail, causing problems for you at your place of employment, not to mention the potential emotional damage of spending time in jail. If a no-contact order is issued, you may be unable to return to your home, unable to access your own belongings, and even unable to see your loved ones. Because there are likely state prosecutors, detectives and domestic violence courts working against you, it is imperative that you have an experienced Seattle domestic violence attorney on your side as quickly as possible.
Criminal Consequences of a Domestic Violence Charge
In the state of Washington, domestic violence is charged as a misdemeanor, punishable by up to three months in jail, and a $1,000 fine. For more serious domestic violence issues, the charge could be increased to a gross misdemeanor, with penalties of up to a year in prison and a $5,000 fine. When serious injury results, the domestic violence could be charged as a felony, with prison sentences longer than a year, if a conviction occurs.
Other Long-Term Consequences of a Domestic Violence Charge
You may find that, in addition to the criminal penalties you face due to domestic violence charges, you will also be subject to a number of long-term consequences. You may find yourself unable to obtain employment, and unable to secure a professional license you have spent months or years working toward. If convicted of domestic violence, you will be prohibited from owning a firearm, or qualifying for a concealed weapons permit. You may be unable to attend college on a government student loan, and could even find your ability to rent a home compromised if the landlord runs a background check.
False Charges of Domestic Violence
Unfortunately, all too often, charges of domestic violence are simply not valid—in fact, about 700,000 people are wrongfully accused of domestic violence each and every year. A spouse may file domestic violence charges against the other spouse to gain the upper hand in an impending divorce or child custody case or an ex-girlfriend or boyfriend could file domestic violence charges after being spurned. It is estimated that 25 percent of divorces have an allegation of domestic violence, and in 48 states, a judge determining child custody is required to consider allegations or findings of domestic violence. In half of all restraining orders issued, physical assault is not even alleged—the majority of state definitions of domestic violence include being afraid, fearful, apprehensive, or experiencing emotional distress. Perhaps the most distressing statistic, is that 70 percent of restraining orders are later found to be “trivial or false.”
Why You Must Seek Experienced Legal Representation
Because charges of domestic violence can impact your life so dramatically, it is extremely important that you immediately contact an experienced, knowledgeable Washington domestic violence attorney. The attorneys at Baker, Lewis, Schwisow & Laws, PLLC, will vigorously defend your rights if you have been charged with domestic violence. We understand the rules related to domestic violence allegations, and know how to present your defense for the best possible outcome. In short, we will be on your side, in your corner, working as an advocate on your behalf.
Have you or someone you love been arrested and charged with a crime? Contact the experienced criminal defense lawyers at Baker, Lewis, Schwisow & Laws
The expert defense team at Baker, Lewis, Schwisow & Laws, PLLC vigorously defend the rights of individuals facing a multitude of charges 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!