Domestic Violence Offenses FAQs

Washington law treats alleged domestic violence offenses as very serious crimes that strike at a fundamental part of society. The term “domestic violence” encompasses a wide array of crimes in Washington. An accusation often involves both an aggressive prosecution and an abundance of negative public attention, requiring the assistance of a skilled defense attorney specialized in domestic violence related accusations.

What Is Domestic Violence?

“Domestic violence” is a broad category of alleged criminal offenses in which the accused perpetrator and victim have a close family or household relationship to one another. This can include current or former spouses or domestic partners, parents, siblings, people related in other ways by blood or marriage, and people who have a current or former dating relationship. The law defines dating as a “social relationship of a romantic nature.”

Alleged offenses that may fall under the definition of domestic violence include assault, burglary, criminal trespass, kidnapping, rape, stalking, and violations of protective orders. The offense of “interfering with the reporting of domestic violence” is defined as an attempt by a perpetrator of domestic violence to prevent a victim from calling 911. These cases often begin with an allegation of some sort of physical altercation. Most cases of alleged domestic violence, particularly those involving assault charges, require the prosecution to prove that the accused acted with the intent to cause injury to the alleged victim. This can be difficult to prove in many cases, particularly with the assistance of a defense attorney who will interview witnesses, review police reports, and present a full account of the alleged incident to the court.

What are the Penalties for Domestic Violence in Tacoma, WA?

The potential penalties for domestic violence vary based on the alleged offense and the circumstances of the case. Punishment for an assault conviction depends, first, on the degree of the offense. Assault in the first degree is a class A felony that could result in life imprisonment and a fine of up to $50,000. Assault in the fourth degree, however, is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine not exceeding $5,000. Punishment may also depend on the nature of the family relationship.

Are there Consequences Besides Jail for Domestic Violence in Tacoma, WA?

At any time during a domestic violence prosecution, the judge has the authority to impose a “no contact” order preventing defendant from any contact with the alleged victim. This can include contact in person or via telephone or internet. A courts may also enter restraining or protective orders against a defendant, both during a case and upon its conclusion. These can restrict a defendant’s liberty by prohibiting certain activities, ordering a defendant to stay away from certain premises, or ordering a defendant to remain a specified distance away from the alleged victim and his or her family at all times. Courts may order defendants to undergo psychiatric or psychological assessments, or complete classes like anger management.

Do the Gender of the Accuser and the Accused Matter in Domestic Violence Cases in Tacoma, WA?

Although women probably make up the majority of accusers in domestic violence cases, and men might comprise the majority of the accused, Washington’s statutes are neutral as to gender. These cases can occur with a woman as the alleged perpetrator and a man as the alleged victim. They can also occur between people of the same gender in any family relationship, including domestic partnerships and dating relationships.

For more than 15 years, I have protected the rights of defendants as a criminal defense attorney in criminal cases throughout Washington. Contact us today online or at (253) 201-0406 for a free consultation.