In Washington State, it is very common to be wrongfully accused of Domestic Violence. There is usually very little, if any physical evidence of a domestic crime. Often times, an arrest is based upon the statement of the alleged victim.
Unfortunately, many "victims" make false or exaggerated statements to the police. These accusations often result in criminal charges that can be devastating to the life of the accused.
In Pierce County and King County, bail is frequently set while the case is pending, even for a defendant who has no criminal history. It is a good idea to speak with a domestic violence attorney before communicating with the alleged victim or law enforcement. Any type of communication with the accuser can result in an additional criminal charge if a No Contact Order has been issued by the court.Domestic Violence Penalties
Most domestic abuse charges in the Tacoma, Seattle, Puyallup, Federal Way, and Lakewood, WA areas are gross misdemeanors that are punishable by up to 364 days of jail time and a $5,000 fine. For a Domestic Violence Assault 4 (4th Degree Assault) offense, there is usually a 1 year mandatory batterer's treatment requirement.
A conviction for DV assault will in most cases make you ineligible to posses a firearm. If you are a military soldier or law enforcement officer convicted of domestic assault, a conviction will likely result in the termination of your employment. There are several other professions that will terminate your employment upon notice of a domestic assault conviction.
If there are allegations of choking, a case that would normally be charged as an Assault 4 will likely be charged as Domestic Violence Assault 2 (2nd Degree Assault). Assault 2 is a class B felony that is punishable by up to 10 years of jail time and a $20,000 fine.Types of Domestic Violence Charges
- Malicious Mischief or Destruction of Property
- Violation of a No Contact Order
- Violation of a Domestic Violence Protection Order
In WA State, the domestic violence designation is determined by the relationship between the person accused and the alleged victim. A domestic relationship is established if there is an incident with any family member (by blood or by marriage), current or past romantic relationships, child in common, and even current roommates.Defending Domestic Violence Allegations
A good domestic violence lawyer will protect your rights and mitigate or eliminate the domestic violence penalties. When selecting a lawyer, it is important that you choose one who not only has DV defense experience, but also has current knowledge on all of the civil consequences (loss of gun rights, potential loss of employment, travel restrictions, etc.) that can occur.
Cristine Beckwith is a domestic violence attorney who has successfully defended thousands of clients accused of DV related crimes in Pierce County, King County, and Thurston County. Her proven track record has earned her a strong reputation for winning cases in courts that include Tacoma, Seattle, Puyallup, Bellevue, Federal Way, Olympia, and Lakewood, WA. Cristine has offices in Seattle and Tacoma and can be called for a free consultation.