As per section 26.50.101(3) of the Revised Code of the State of Washington (RCW), domestic violence involves:
- Physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault between family or household members
- Sexual assault of one family or household member by another
- Stalking of one family or household member by another family or household member
Most domestic violence arrests are prompted by a 911 call made by the victim or a family member. Upon police arrival, the parties are separated and put in different rooms where they’re questioned separately. If there is probable cause to believe that an assault was committed within the last four hours, a decision is made on who the aggressor was, and that person must be arrested in accordance with RCW 10.31.100(2). Visible physical injuries aren’t required. Police officers are not required to arrest both persons.
Arraignment and bail
Once a person has been arrested on a domestic violence charge in Washington, he or she is held in jail without bond until such time as an appearance is made before a judge or magistrate. Detention usually lasts 24 to 48 hours except for weekends or holiday. Courts are apprehensive about releasing a defendant and having him or her commit the same or a worse crime against the same person. The presiding judge will want to carefully evaluate the facts and allegations in the case for purposes of setting bail and any conditions of it. Don’t be surprised if there’s a no contact order entered.
The alleged victim can’t drop the charges
After you’ve been charged, the person who had you arrested has no authority to drop the domestic violence charge. It’s not him or her against you. It’s the People of the State of Washington against you. If for any reason the prosecution does decide to drop the case, it will likely be without prejudice. That means that the state can refile the case anytime within two years.
A straight misdemeanor domestic violence conviction is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine not to exceed $1,000. A person who was convicted of a gross misdemeanor charge of domestic violence can be jailed for up to one year with a fine of up to $5,000. If convicted of felony domestic violence, a person faces a prison sentence. Depending on how the felony is classified, the penalty could be as long as life in prison.
Treatment and counseling
A judge might attach his or her own conditions to a domestic violence conviction. If drugs or alcohol were involved in the event that prompted the arrest, a defendant might be ordered to obtain an alcohol and substance abuse evaluation and follow any recommendations thereof. Treatment might range from an eight hour education and awareness program to an intensive outpatient program. A defendant is also likely to be ordered to enroll in and successfully complete a one year domestic violence treatment program.
There are two sides to every domestic violence story. After an arrest, we’ll carefully listen to your side of the story, and then we’ll tell you what we think we need to do to protect your liberties. Just a few defenses to a domestic violence charge include:
- Self defense is viable if you had a reasonable belief of an immediate threat of bodily harm. Your reaction must have been reasonable under the circumstances.
- Defense of others is also viable. The same reasonable belief applies.
- You didn’t have intent. Maybe you didn’t intend to assault or threaten bodily harm to the alleged victim.
- There’s no independent evidence. If there are no witnesses and no signs of bodily harm, it’s the alleged victim’s word against your word. That doesn’t sustain proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
- There’s no proof of visible injuries. Alleged victims have been known to harm themselves to gain an advantage.
- The allegations were false. These might be motivated out of ill will, monetary motivation or custody issues. Men are usually on the receiving end of these allegations.
Contact a Spokane Valley Domestic Violence Lawyer Today
As you see, there are many ways of defending a domestic violence case. We understand the importance of having the best possible strategy in defending the domestic violence case that’s pending against you. Contact us as soon as possible about any domestic violence allegations. The fact that those allegations were made doesn’t make you guilty. The prosecution has the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and we hold the prosecution to that burden.