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Washington State's Mandatory Arrest Law

Posted by Steve Karimi | Apr 20, 2020 | 0 Comments

Washington, the state that was hit first by the novel coronavirus, has issued a sweeping stay-at-home order to try to slow the advance of COVID-19. While the order has aided the population in flattening the curve, there have been some unfortunate side effects. With so many people staying at home, one side effect in particular that increased is the number of domestic violence calls and arrests. In light of these statistics, now is a good time to revisit Washington's mandatory arrest law.

What Does Washington State Law Say about Mandatory Arrests & Domestic Violence?

According to the Washington State law, a police officer who arrives at a domestic violence 911 call within four hours after the call was made and has probable cause to believe that a crime of domestic violence has been committed is required to make an arrest.

Typically, the police will try to arrest the person whom they believe is the “primary aggressor,” i.e., the person who poses the more serious, ongoing threat. Even though the two parties involved might be telling two completely different, sometimes almost unbelievable stories, police will still often make an arrest. The reason is simple: they could get in trouble later if it turns out they should have made an arrest but failed to do so.

Another complication in the process for the accused is that the bar for establishing probable cause and making an arrest is very low. The police are not necessarily there to determine exactly what happened—they are there to begin the investigation and prevent things from escalating. To this end, the first thing they do upon arriving at a scene will usually be to separate the people involved and speak to them individually. If the story that the accuser tells the police constitutes a crime of domestic violence, even if the story may be exaggerated or an overt lie, the accused typically can and will be arrested.

What Should I Do if Charged with Domestic Violence in Seattle?

If you have been arrested for and charged with a crime of domestic violence, it can feel like your world is collapsing. While no two cases are the same, the following steps are usually good steps to take for someone in that position.

  1. Contact an Attorney: This is the first – and probably the most important – step. An experienced attorney can help you understand your rights, give you advice on what to say or not to say, and help in crafting a defense that will get your charges dropped or win your case at trial.
  2. Avoid Social Media: In today's day and age, it can be tempting to go to social media to describe what is going on in our day-to-day lives for our friends and family. However, do not post about your case. Social media posts can be used as evidence against you even if your accounts are set to private.
  3. Don't Speak to Your Accuser: Make sure to talk to your lawyer before speaking to your accuser and have others present there when you do.

Call 206-621-8777 today for a free consultation and evaluation of your case with the Karimi Law Office.

About the Author

Steve Karimi

Steve Karimi attended Pepperdine University School of Law. After graduation he worked as a prosecutor in Seattle where he gained valuable insight to the criminal justice system. Attorney Karimi uses his experiences as a prosecutor everyday only now he fights for the justice of those accused.


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If you have been charged with a domestic violence related crime in Seattle, call The Law Offices of Steve Karimi right now. You will speak to a Seattle criminal attorney who cares about your case and wants to help you get great results. Call us at 206-660-6200 or complete the form in the sidebar.

Domestic Violence Defense

Attorney Steve Karimi is a former prosecutor who can use his knowledge and experience to defend you. He has a proven record of successfully defending domestic violence clients. When it comes to your future, make sure you have the best legal representation in town.