Domestic Violence Information

Domestic Violence

DV Related Crimes
DV Consequences
and Penalties
No Contact Orders

DV Related Crimes

In Washington State, any criminal charge may be labeled as a domestic violence related case if it is alleged to be a crime committed by one family or household member against another or between people with a dating relationship.  For instance, our office has represented persons accused of Assault DV and Malicious Mischief DV, but we have also represented persons accused of Theft DV and Disorderly Conduct DV.

"Family or household members" means spouses, former spouses, 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. RCW 10.99.020

"Dating relationship" means a social relationship of a romantic nature. Factors that the court may consider in making this determination include: (a) The length of time the relationship has existed; (b) the nature of the relationship; and (c) the frequency of interaction between the parties.
DV Consequences of Accusation, Arrest and Conviction

DV related cases are taken so seriously by the prosecution and police in Washington state, even before there has been any conviction, there can be significant impacts on a person’s rights and freedom. These often include:  
A suspect’s arrest and incarceration in jail. This is because Washington state has a mandatory arrest law for domestic violence cases which requires that there be an arrest where there is “probable cause to believe that a person who is sixteen years or older within the preceding four hours has assaulted a family or household member and the officer believes: (i) A felonious assault has occurred; (ii) an assault has occurred which has resulted in bodily injury to the victim, whether the injury is observable by the responding officer or not; or (iii) that any physical action has occurred which was intended to cause another person reasonably to fear imminent serious bodily injury or death. Bodily injury means physical pain, illness, or an impairment of physical condition. RCW 10.99.030 (6)(a); RCW 10.31.100(2)(c) 
The court likely issuing a domestic violence no-contact order which prevents a defendant from returning home or having contact with family. A judge will usually issue this no contact order at the first court appearance even if the alleged victim does not want it. RCW 10.99.040 

A requirement that a defendant not possess any firearms or dangerous weapons as a condition of release from jail. A defendant can also be required to turn over any weapons and his or her concealed weapons permit to law enforcement while the case is pending. RCW 9.41.800 

Depending upon the facts of the case, there may be a requirement that a defendant not possess or consume any alcohol or non-prescribed drugs. He or she may also be required to submit to random urinalysis, or a ankle bracelet to monitor the consumption of alcohol and/or drugs.

Penalties Upon Conviction
Under Washington law domestic violence crimes are divided into two categories: Felonies and misdemeanors / gross misdemeanors . Misdemeanor crimes are filed in District and Municipal court while felonies are filed in Superior court.
The majority of domestic violence offenses are gross misdemeanors punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a $5000.00 fine. Some of the more common domestic violence charges include:   

 Assault 4 DV,
 Malicious Mischief 3rd degree DV,
 Interfering with Reporting of a Domestic Violence Incident,
 Harassment DV, and
 Violation of a Protection or No Contact Order 

The more common felony domestic violence charges include serious assaults and malicious mischief allegations, as well as Violations of Protection and No Contact Orders which include an assault, and/or where there have been more than two prior convictions for violating such orders.

No Contact and Protection Orders

Under Washington law, where a person is accused of a domestic violence crime the court may sign an order prohibiting them from contacting the alleged victim.  RCW 10.99.040    These orders are taken very seriously by judges, prosecutors and law enforcement.  If a person violates one of these orders, the judge can take them into custody, and a new criminal charge can be filed against them.

No contact orders are between the court and the defendant. The person that is protected by the order cannot give a someone permission to violate the order.

In addition to a court issuing a no contact order pursuant to  where a person is facing a criminal charge, a person can file a civil case alleging domestic violence and request that a court issue an order prohibiting another person from having contact with them. RCW 26.50.030.  

What do these orders prohibit?

Under Washington law no contact and/or protection orders generally prohibit all contact of any kind (including, but not limited to, phone calls, letters, email, text messages and contact through a third party) and generally restrict a person’s your ability to come within a certain distance of the protected person's home, work or school.

Civil Standy

If the court issues an order that prohibiting a person from contacting someone with whom they live, that person will need to find an alternative place to stay while the order is in place. He or she should, however, be able to request that the court authorize a "civil standby" which allows them to enter their home with a police escort for a short period of time to retrieve some necessary personal belongings.

Frequently asked questions

With so many issues to deal with after a Domestic Violence arrest, you will have a lot of questions. These questions might include:

Q: What does it mean to be charged when an offense is labeled a domestic violence crime?

Under the law of the state of Washington the term "Domestic Violence" does not refer to a crime in and of itself. Rather, it is a designation given to certain criminal charges when the alleged victim of the crime is a household or family member as defined by the Revised Code of Washington.

Q: Who is considered a household or family member for purposes of the domestic violence laws?

Under the law of the state of Washington on domestic violence persons are household or family member where they have a parent/child relationship, including step-parent/step-child, are siblings, have a grandparent/grandchild relationship, including step-grandparent/step-grand-child, are married or have been married in the past, live together or have lived together in the past, are dating or have dated in the past, and where they have a child in common.

Q: What are the legal penalties and consequences associated with a Domestic Violence Conviction?

Domestic Violence charges carry a jail sentence and fines similar to the equivalent non-domestic violence charge. For instance, both a charge of Assault in the Fourth Degree, and Assault in the Fourth Degree - Domestic Violence, carry maximum penalties of 364 days in jail and a $5000.00 fine. That being said, when a criminal offense is identified as involving Domestic Violence, there are significant additional potential consequences that may come with a conviction. These include, but are not limited to: A No Contact Order, preventing the defendant from having contact with the victim, and potentially other family members, including his or her own children. These orders are significant because a violation of them will result in an additional criminal charge which, under certain circumstances, can be filed as a felony and even result in prison time. Persons convicted of Domestic Violence offenses are also likely to be required to attend Domestic Violence Batterer's Treatment and, if the incident was alcohol or drug related, Alcohol/Drug Treatment. Because of the treatment requirement associated with a domestic violence conviction almost all of those persons who are convicted are placed on monitored probation. Also, for some specific charges, such as Assault and Stalking, another consequence of a domestic violence conviction is the loss of right to possess firearms, for life. A Domestic Violence conviction can also interfere with child custody and visitation and, for some, have an impact on their employability.

Q: What if the alleged victim does not want to pursue the charges?

Obviously a prosecutor will believe that he or she has a better case if the victim is "on board" with their prosecution. That being said, many jurisdictions will try and proceed with prosecution even where the alleged victim is not cooperating. There is a common misconception that the alleged victim has the ability "not to pursue" or to "drop" charges. This is simply not the case. In fact, a prosecutor may attempt to pursue his or her prosecution of a case even where the alleged victim is in no way willing to participate in the process. Prosecutors sometimes refer to this as a "victimless prosecution." In other cases the prosecutor may use a material witness warrant to arrest an alleged victim who refuses to participate voluntarily, and even hold him or her in jail until their testimony is needed. In other cases, the victim appears and is "recanting" by denying that the incident reported to the police occurred, or "minimizing" by claiming that the incident was less severe than was originally reported to the police, here, the prosecution may attempt to go forward by using their other available evidence and by discrediting the "recanting" or "minimizing" alleged victim. All of these cases present unique challenges and it is important an accused is represented by an attorney with experience in the area of Domestic Violence defense.

Q: What is the impact of a Domestic Violence conviction on persons in the military or law enforcement?

It can be huge. Obviously, the loss of right to possess firearms can have a direct consequence on both persons pursuing a military career and persons involved in law enforcement. The attorneys at SBMH have represented well over a hundred military personnel on criminal cases, as well as law enforcement officers, including persons charged with criminal offenses designated as Domestic Violence and, wherever possible, we have worked to assist them in protecting their military careers.

Contact us today

For more complete answers to these and other questions concerning your domestic violence offense please call us during regular business hours at 253-859-8840 or 1-844-473-9209. One of our attorneys is available seven (7) days a week, twenty-four (24) hours per day.

• Representation throughout the state of Washington: The lawyers at Stewart MacNichols Harmell, Inc., P.S., have represented persons throughout the state of Washington, from Vancouver to Bellingham, and Ocean Shores to Chelan. We appear on a regular basis in every court in King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties, including the King and Pierce County Superior and District Courts, and the Seattle, Tacoma and Bellevue Municipal Courts. In fact, our lawyers aggressively represent persons on almost every court calendar in cities from Kent to Kirkland, Lakewood to Seatac, as well as Sammamish, Kenmore and Milton, and we regularly appear in the courts for the cities of Renton, Redmond, Bothell, Duvall, Kenmore, Shoreline, Tukwila, Burien, Des Moines, Federal Way, Auburn, Fife, Puyallup, Bonney Lake, Lynnwood and Everett.

• Free Initial Consultation: If you have been arrested on a Domestic Violence offense, you need a lawyer who answers your questions, makes you feel comfortable and fights for you. We recognize that most people arrested for one of these offenses has no idea what to expect with their case. For this reason both your first phone call and initial consultation with a SBMH attorney are free.

If you have been arrested and charged with domestic violence, make sure you have a criminal defense attorney by your side defending your rights and preparing your defense. Call Stewart Beall MacNichols & Harmell, Inc., P.S. and talk to a lawyer now.

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