When a victim is assaulted, the crime can become a domestic violence charge depending on who the victim’s attacker was. If the relationship between the attacker and the victim is romantic, household members or they’re related by blood, the charge would be classified as domestic violence.

What Is Considered Domestic Violence In Washington State?

In Washington State, domestic violence occurs between two people who share a household relationship, such as dating or blood-family relationships. Domestic violence usually involves a victim suffering physical injury from pushing, slapping or hitting, though sometimes it can involve the greater charges of murder or rape [1].

Domestic violence charges differ from assault charges because the relationship between the attacker and victim is known. This means the attacker may have abused the victim’s trust and confidence to commit the crime. In domestic violence crimes, the victims also often get special protections from their attacker after the case is settled.

What Is The Relationship Between The Attacker And Victim To Be Considered Domestic Violence in Washington State?

In Washington State, domestic violence happens between two people that are [2]:

  • Intimate partners, such as spouses or domestic partners.
  • Former spouses or former domestic partners.
  • Two people who share a child, regardless of marital status or if they’ve ever lived together.
  • Two adult people who currently or previously lived together and are currently or previously dated.
  • Two people who are at least 16 years old and currently live together, or lived together in the past, and have dated.
  • Two people, both over the age of 16 years old who have dated.
  • Adults related by blood.
  • People with a biological or legal parent relationship, such as step-parents or grandparents.

What Is The Punishment For Domestic Violence In Washington State?

If a police officer in Washington State is called to a scene for a domestic violence incident and that officer has a reasonable belief or probable cause that a crime was committed they must arrest the alleged attacker [3]. The officer can arrest the alleged attacker without a warrant if they believe the attacker has hurt someone in their household in the last four hours or the person in question has violated a domestic violence protective order [3].

If the alleged attacker is convicted of domestic violence, how much time in jail they will serve is based on the class of charge, such as a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or felony. In Washington State, domestic violence misdemeanors carry a $1,000 fine and up to 90 days in prison. Gross misdemeanors can be punished by up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine. Domestic violence felonies can carry a sentence of more than a year in prison [4]. After the attacker has been convicted they may also have a domestic violence protection order or restraining order against them preventing them from contacting their victim.

What Should I Do If I’m Involved In A Domestic Violence Case In Washington State?

If you have been charged with domestic violence or you’re the victim of domestic violence, reach out to the trusted team at Priest Criminal Defense. Our team has experience working with families involved with domestic violence in Washington State. We can help you build your best case and work to achieve a speedy resolution.

[1] Berman, Sara J. “Domestic Violence And Domestic Abuse.” Nolo. https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/domestic-violence-33813.html
[2] “RCW 26.50.010.” Washington State Legislature. https://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?Cite=26.50.010
[3] Mince-Dider, Ave. “Washington Domestic Violence Laws.” Nolo. https://www.criminaldefenselawyer.com/resources/criminal-defense/domestic-violence/domestic-violence-washington-state-penalties-d
[4] “Washington Domestic Violence Laws.” FindLaw.com. https://statelaws.findlaw.com/washington-law/washington-domestic-violence-laws.html