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Domestic Violence Allegations-What You Need to Know

Posted Wednesday, September 12, 2018 by Andrew Charles Huff

I deal with cases involving allegations of domestic violence on a regular basis and I have seen first-hand the harm caused by violence against others. At the same time, I have also witnessed completely innocent behavior elevated to a crime by false allegations.

In any case involving domestic violence, there are always the potential results such as separation, divorce and custody proceedings as one spouse may use an allegation of domestic violence to gain a legal advantage. In this situation, you need an experienced domestic violence attorney to help you.

*What exactly is DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?*Potentially, any crime committed by one “family or household member” against someone in the same family or household could potentially constitute domestic violence. Some examples are assault, false imprisonment, property damage, reckless endangerment, stalking, and violating protection orders. As expected, Washington courts take allegations very seriously when the label of “domestic violence” is attached and the penalties can be more serious.

*Who is considered “family or household members?*Washington state law considers a family or household member to be:

  1. Adults related by marriage or blood
  2. Ex-spouses
  3. A child’s parents
  4. Persons 16 years of age or older who reside together or who previously resided together
  5. Persons 16 years of age or older who have or have had a dating relationship
  6. Persons with a biological or legal parent-child relationship (grandparents and stepparents)

When a report is made of a domestic violence allegation, responding police officers must arrest a suspect if that officer believes a domestic violence crime has been committed. Additionally, officers must arrest a person suspected of violating a “no contact” order.

Penalties for Domestic Violence**Domestic violence crimes in the state of Washington can be either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the offense. For all misdemeanor convictions, the penalties include a maximum 90 day in jail sentence and a $1,000 fine. A “gross misdemeanor” is punishable with up to 365 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. Finally, a felony domestic violence conviction can carry more than a year in jail. Additionally, anyone who is convicted of assault as a crime of domestic violence may not own a firearm or obtain a concealed weapons permit in this state. Violating this provision constitutes a felony.

*Can the victim “drop” a domestic violence charge?*This notion of a victim successfully requesting any charges be dropped is false. Once charges are filed, the only person who can “drop” the charge is the prosecutor. Instead, the case can still proceed even if the victim declines to testify or cooperate depending on other evidence.

Fighting a Domestic Violence Charge

In any criminal charge, prosecutors must prove beyond any reasonable doubt the defendant’s guilt. In a case that many times depends on the testimony of the victim, this burden of proof isn’t always easy to meet, especially if the victim does not wish to cooperate with the prosecutor. A good defense attorney can discredit a phony accusation or in some cases might claim self-defense – or that you were defending yourself or personal property – as your defense strategy. After reviewing the details of the charge against you, I will work to develop a defense that is both appropriate and effective. If you are innocent, we will fight the charge and potentially seek a dismissal.

If you are accused of Domestic Violence…

Do not contact or confront your accuser in any form. Any type of contact can potentially be used against you.

Do not post your thoughts about the case on any type of social media, such as Twitter or Facebook. While this might be tempting, anything you post could be distorted and used against you.

Think of witnesses who will vouch for your character and testify on your behalf about specific accusations.

Call my office immediately and let’s get started on your case.