What is Domestic Violence?
When a crime is committed between family members, it is often charged as domestic violence. This means that the offender may face additional penalties like being subject to an order that prevents them from contacting the alleged victim. According to Washington State law, RCW 26.50.010(1), there are 3 types of offenses that can lead to domestic violence charges. They are as follows:
(a) Physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault, between family or household members;
(b) Sexual assault of one family or household member by another; or
(c) Stalking as defined in RCW 9A.46.110 of one family or household member by another family or household member.
Who Can be Charged with Domestic Violence?
Anyone can be accused of domestic violence, not just men. RCW 26.50.010(2) defines “family or household members" as any of the following:
[S]pouses, 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, adult persons related by blood or marriage, adult persons who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past, 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, persons sixteen years of age or older with whom a person sixteen years of age or older has or has had a dating relationship, and persons who have a biological or legal parent-child relationship, including stepparents and stepchildren and grandparents and grandchildren.
These laws also can apply to couples who have a dating relationship which is defined as a “social relationship of a romantic nature”.
What Crimes Constitute Domestic Violence in Washington?
Under RCW 10.99.020(5), the following crimes can be considered domestic violence when they occur between family or household members:
- Felony or misdemeanor assault
- Drive-by shooting
- Reckless endangerment
- Criminal trespass
- Malicious mischief
- Unlawful imprisonment
- Violation of the provisions of a restraining or no-contact order
- Stalking Interference with the reporting of domestic violence
Domestic violence charges in Washington are not limited to these offenses, however. For more information about whether your charges may be considered domestic violence, contact a Seattle defense attorney.
What if the Spouse Does Not Want to Press Domestic Violence Charges?
In Washington, domestic violence is charged by the state, not the individual. This means that once police are involved, you could be arrested for domestic violence even if the other party does not want to press charges or claims that you are innocent.
If the prosecutor of the case decides that they would like to press charges against you for a domestic violence crime, they do not need the cooperation of the alleged victim. Though cases with a non-cooperative victim are harder for The State to prove, you should still consider hiring a defense attorney to help you fight your charges.
What are the Penalties if Domestic Violence in Seattle?
The sentencing guidelines for domestic violence convictions in Washington are tough. A domestic violence crime can be charged as a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or felony depending on the type of crime. A misdemeanor conviction can lead to 90 days of jail time and a fine of $1,000. A gross misdemeanor can result in 1 year in jail and $5,000 in fines. Felonies are the most serious crimes and can lead to 5 years in jail and a $10,000 fine for a Class C conviction, 10 years in jail and a $20,000 fine for a Class B conviction and up to life in prison and a $50,000 fine for a Class A felony conviction.
In addition, anyone convicted of a domestic violence crime in Washington can be subject to a no contact order which may bar them from entering their own home or seeing their children for an extended period of time.
Why Do I Need a Seattle Domestic Violence Lawyer?
If you have been arrested or accused of a domestic violence offense in Washington, it is vital that you contact an experienced DV defense attorney right away. Judges and juries often look to punish domestic violence offenders to the fullest extent of the law. By working with a defense lawyer, you stand your best chance of beating the charges. An attorney can walk you through the legal process and help you build a strong defense. They can work with the prosecution to get your charges reduced or to get you a generous plea bargain. Plus, if you have any questions or concerns about your case along the way, your lawyer will be there to answer them for you. When it comes to your future, you should do everything possible to protect it. Call The Law Offices of Steve Karimi to find out more about what an domestic violence attorney can do for you.