Bellevue Domestic Violence Lawyers
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Now more than ever, a domestic violence (DV) conviction can have dire consequences for the accused. Potential loss of employment, effects on parenting rights, loss of gun rights, No Contact Orders, and mandatory counseling are only some of the possible repercussions you could face if convicted of domestic violence in Washington State.
Domestic violation allegations are often made in good faith by legitimate victims. However, you should note that alleged victims occasionally make DV allegations solely to get another person in trouble to satisfy their ulterior motives, such as getting “payback” against their ex for committing adultery, for example. This has proven to be an effective tool for these victims but a devastating one for the accused. Keep in mind that the alleged victim does not decide whether charges get filed or pursued. A common misconception is that reported victims decide whether to “press charges,” but that notion is incorrect.
This is because when law enforcement responds to a domestic incident, they are required to make an arrest if they have probable cause to believe that a domestic violence offense was recently committed. So, if the police determine that an assault of another type of domestic violence crime occurred, they will arrest the suspect. Once the police make an arrest, they share the details of their investigation with the prosecutor, who then decides whether criminal charges will ensue. From there, the accused person will usually be held in custody until they can appear before a judge.
What is Domestic Violence?
Legally speaking, a domestic violence accusation could get added to an existing criminal charge when the prosecuting agency believes that physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or inflicting fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, or assault, etc. has occurred between two people in a domestic relationship.
However, most people are surprised to learn that a domestic relationship is not limited to those in a current romantic relationship. Rather, a “domestic relationship” in Washington State includes family, household members, and intimate partners (current or former). While many crimes involving people in a domestic relationship can be considered domestic violence crimes, the most common include assault, harassment, and malicious mischief.
Types of Domestic Violence Offenses
That said, domestic violence also includes but is not limited to, any of the following crimes when committed either by one family or household member against another family or household member, or one intimate partner against another intimate partner:
- Drive-by shooting
- Reckless endangerment
- Criminal trespass
- Unlawful imprisonment
- Violation of a restraining order
- Interfering with the reporting of domestic violence
What are the Penalties for Domestic Violence in Washington State?
Depending on the alleged offenses involved in the domestic relationship, a defendant can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony. As stated before, common domestic violence offenses involve assault, harassment, and malicious mischief, all of which are generally charged as gross misdemeanors punishable by up to 364 days in jail and/or a maximum $5,000 fine. However, domestic violence can be charged as a felony if the underlying offense is a felony, such as burglary.
Although domestic violence penalties vary in terms of jail time and fines, some penalties remain constant regardless of the type of charge. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the accusation, a judge may impose the following punishments for a domestic violence conviction in Washington State:
- No-Contact Orders: Regardless of your innocence, a judge will likely impose a “no-contact order” against you, which prohibits you from contacting the protected party (the victim) either after an arrest or post-conviction, whether it be through telephone, email, social media, or a third-party such as a friend or family member. That said, a no-contact order will remain effective until the judge terminates the order or once the order expires.
- Treatment: A judge may order the defendant to attend treatment such as anger management or therapy to help rehabilitate the defendant and deter them from committing domestic violence in the future.
Community service: In some cases, a judge may require a defendant to complete a certain number of community service hours. Community service may be imposed in lieu of jail time, and other times, it may be added to jail time and fines. However, know that a judge may or may not impose community service hours.
Common Defenses to Domestic violence
With the above penalties in mind, it is natural to wonder what defenses may be available. While few defenses are available to domestic violence allegations, some strategies may be used in your favor depending on your unique situation. That said, common defenses against domestic violence include:
- False accusations: If you deny that a domestic violence incident ever occurred and firmly believe that the victim falsely accused you, your attorney may use this defense in your case strategy.
- Self-defense: If the reported victim perpetrated the violence but shifted the blame on you for simply defending yourself, you may argue self-defense.
- Defense of property: If circumstances required you to push or shove the victim to defend your property, for instance, then your charges may get reduced or dropped. For instance, if the victim tried to smash your car windows with a bat, so you pushed them to the ground and they broke their arm as a result, there’s a chance you could avoid a domestic violence conviction.
- Defense of others: Referencing the example above, if the “victim” tried to harm your minor children and you assaulted the victim to prevent them from doing so, your lawyer may utilize this defense in your strategy.
Remember, a domestic violence allegation is just that ― an allegation. However, you should still hire an experienced attorney who is willing to take the necessary steps to ensure your case is handled as best as possible. For these reasons and more, it is in your best interests to retain our domestic violence lawyers to get serious defense for your serious charges. With over 40 combined years of experience and a track record for achieving successful case verdicts for clients, there is no better firm to handle your charges than Veitch Ault Defense.
Contact us today for a free consultation and find out how we can help.
2122 112th Ave. NE, Suite A200
Bellevue, WA 98004
20102 Cedar Valley Rd., Suite 104
Lynnwood, WA 98036
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