“Domestic violence” (“DV”) is a term generally used to refer to violent acts committed by one family or household member against another. These acts can result in serious mental and physical harm to DV victims – including children. This is why Washington prosecutors aggressively pursue these charges, which typically occurs regardless of the actual circumstances of a case. If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with a DV crime, you need to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney now for help.
What are Washington’s Domestic Violence Laws?
Washington criminal law (RCW 26.50.010) says that domestic violence is any crime committed against:
- A family member,
- Someone living in the same household, or
- Someone with whom the defendant has, or had, a dating relationship with.
“Family members” and “household members” include:
- Spouses and former spouses,
- Domestic partners and former domestic partners,
- Unwed parents of children,
- Adults related by blood or marriage,
- Adults who live together or who have lived together,
- People over the age of 16 who are dating,
- Parents and children (including stepparents and stepchildren), and
- Grandparents and grandchildren.
Some common domestic violence offenses include:
- Intimidation and threatening,
- Physical assault and sexual assault,
- Stalking, and
- Malicious mischief.
What are the Penalties for Domestic Violence Crimes in Washington?
As seen above, there are a variety of DV crimes that a prosecutor can charge under Washington law. These offenses likewise carry a range of penalties and punishments. This includes the possibility of the State filing either gross-misdemeanor or felony charges.
Washington gross-misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year in jail. Defendants can also receive a maximum fine of $5,000. Examples of domestic violence crimes that are charged as gross-misdemeanors include:
- Simple assault DV,
- Malicious mischief (3rd degree),
- Harassment, and
- Violation of a no contact order.
Washington felonies are categorized into three classes – A, B, and C. Class A felonies are the most serious offenses among the three. Further, Washington DV crimes can fall into any three of these categories – depending on the facts of the case.
The maximum penalties for each class of felonies include:
- Class A – up to life in prison and a maximum fine of $50,000;
- Class B – up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $20,000; and,
- Class C – up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Examples of domestic violence offenses that are charged as felonies in Washington include:
- Assault (in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree);
- Malicious mischief (in the 1st or 2nd degree);
- Felony harassment; and,
- Violation of a no contact order with an assault or two or more prior convictions.
Are There Legal Defenses to Washington DV Crimes?
An accused can try to beat a DV charge by raising a legal defense. A successful defense could work to reduce a charge or dismiss it altogether. A common defense in these matters is for the defendant to show that he was falsely accused. Another is to show that the accuser had a motive to make false accusations. Domestic violence cases sometimes involve a “victim” that fabricates or dramatizes facts. Know that the domestic violence attorneys at Black Law are skilled at unveiling the truth in each and every DV case they take on.
Black Law is a criminal defense firm based in Seattle, Washington. The criminal lawyers at the firm have over 20 years of combined experience fighting for their clients. Their representation is provided with passion and they provide real results that protect your rights and freedoms. Contact them today to get the criminal defense you deserve.