Defenses Against Domestic Violence Charges

Being falsely accused of domestic violence can turn your entire life upside down. Preparing a defense against domestic violence charges will require a strong legal strategy, so contact a criminal defense lawyer fluent in Washington State law right away.

What Is Considered Domestic Violence In Washington State?

Before you and your criminal defense lawyer build your defense against the domestic violence charges, checking to ensure jurisdiction has been met for the alleged crime to be considered domestic violence.

In Washington State, domestic violence is considered a family or household member committing physical harm, bodily injury, assault, the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, sexual assault, or stalking against the victim.

The Evergreen State considers a family or household member to be:

  • Spouses and former spouses;
  • Parents of a child;
  • Adults related by blood or marriage;
  • Adults who currently live or previously resided together;
  • Anyone 16 years of age or older who currently live together or previously lived together;
  • Anyone 16 years of age or older who currently or previously have had a dating relationship;
  • Persons 16 years of age or older who have or have had a dating relationship;
  • Persons with a biological or legal parent-child relationship, such as stepparents or grandparents.

What Are Possible Defenses Against Domestic Violence Charges In Washington State?

Typically, two strategies exist for defendants to prove their innocence: self-defense and de minimis infractions. When choosing self-defense, your attorney’s legal strategy is to establish the plaintiff suffered injuries because you were legitimately trying to defend yourself against imminent bodily harm. In this case, you’d be justified in the force used against the plaintiff to protect yourself.

If your legal team chooses a de minimis infraction defense, the goal is to prove that your conduct was so minor that it is “too trivial to be considered a criminal offense.”

What Can I Do To Help Defend Myself Against Domestic Violence Charges?

The best thing you can do to defend yourself against domestic violence charges is to contact VanWa Legal right away and take advantage of our firm’s free consultation to better understand your case.

Typically, domestic violence cases move quickly — sometimes, the hearing is held within ten days of the original charge — so employing a lawyer as soon as possible increases your chances of winning your case.

If you choose to work with VanWa Legals’ attorneys, our team will conduct pretrial discovery to gather medical records, police reports, and other relevant documents to build your defense.

To help with your defense while the case is ongoing, do not contact the plaintiff under any circumstances.

Domestic Violence Types in Washington State

Domestic violence encaptures more than a partner hitting a family member or spouse. The term domestic violence covers a broad range of violent acts in Washington State. Understanding what it coves, will help you understand if you have been a victim of domestic violence or if you’re being accused of it.

Who Can Commit Domestic Violence?

Before understanding what acts constitute domestic violence, understand who can commit it. Washington State defines domestic abuse as a “family or household member” committing the act against another. So this can include parents, spouses, partners, grandparents, or cousins, depending on who lives in the household.

What Is Domestic Violence?

In Washington State, if someone who is related to you or shares the same household does any of the following, it will be considered domestic violence if they:

  • intentionally causing physical pain, physical injury, or illness
  • intentionally impairing a physical condition
  • commit an unwanted or illegal sexual assault
  • commit a physical activity that may cause the victim to fear any violence, pain, injury, or sexual assault will occur

What Crimes Also Encompass Domestic Violence?

Domestic Violence goes beyond physical assault; any of the following crimes can fall into this category:

  • Assault
  • Manslaughter or murder
  • Reckless endangerment
  • Coercion
  • Burglary
  • Criminal trespass
  • Property damage
  • Kidnapping
  • Interfering with the reporting of domestic violence
  • Rape
  • Violation of protection order: this includes any letters, emails, texts, or contact through a third party
  • Stalking or cyberstalking
  • False imprisonment: believing you can not leave without risk of injury to you or someone you love

In many cases, even being afraid for your life or being the recipient of violence can constitute domestic violence, as long as a “reasonable” person also in that situation would also be fearful.

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

If you are the victim of domestic violence or feel you have been wrongfully accused of a domestic violence act, reach out to the knowledgeable legal team at VanWa Legal.

We know domestic violence cases are sensitive for you and your family and extremely emotionally trying.

We aim to ease this burden by providing you excellent representation. To start, we offer a free consultation so you can better understand the merits of your case and feel confident you’re making the right decision by choosing VanWa Legal as your lawyer. We also offer payment plans to help ease the stress of paying for a domestic violence case.

We don’t want this case to affect the rest of your life, so we’ll be here for you when you need the help the most.

Mistakes That Can Cause You to Break a Protective Order

If you have been served a protective order, you must understand the guidelines you must adhere to. As the punishment for making a mistake and breaking a protective order can often be more severe than what you were first accused of.

Sometimes these orders may be temporary or permanent, but following them to a tee is essential to keep your freedom.

What Mistakes Can Make That Would Break A Protective Order?

After you have been served a protective order, even going home can trigger your arrest. If you live with the person or people who the protective order is for, you can no longer stay at that residence. It would be best if you found somewhere else to stay until your case is settled.

In fact, when there is a “no-contact” clause of the protective order, any contact or communication with the person, the protective order is shielding will be considered breaking the order. This includes emails, texts, letters, and phone calls.

If you decide to appeal a protective order, you need to notify the other person involved of the legal plan; however, doing this in person would break the order, so be sure to have your attorney deliver it. Any attempt to contact this person through a third party would be considered breaking the order if there is a no contact-clause of the order.

When a protective order is served, you may not contact the person who requested it nor their children or other family members, even if you share those kids and relatives.

You may not try to contact any of these people at their home, place of employment, around their car, and your children’s school or childcare facility.

If you see the person who requested the order anywhere, even at a grocery market, you must leave, or you will violate the protective order.

Even if the protectee contacts you and permits you to contact them — don’t do it. You are still breaking the order even if the protectee contacts you first.

What Should I Do If I Have A Protective Order Against Me?

If you have been served with a protective order, reach out to the expert criminal defense lawyers at VanWa Legal. Our team has vast experience in Washington State law and understands the inner workings of protective orders in this state.

We know this is an already stressful time, so we offer free consultations so we can discuss your case and you can understand the legal strategy we’d use. We also proudly provide flexible flat-fee payment plans and delegate some billable hours to paralegals to lower your costs, so you can enlist the legal representation you deserve.

Can You Fight a Restraining Order in Washington State?

If you believe you have been wrongfully served with a restraining order in Washington State, you do have a chance to fight this order.

To effectively fight the restraining order, you’ll need expert legal counsel and carefully follow the letter of the law.

Can You Fight a Restraining Order in Washington State?

Before a judge allows a restraining order, a temporary restraining order will be served. A judge can serve a temporary restraining order without you present and sets a date for a more formal hearing that you will appear. Fight Restraining Order

During this second hearing will be your chance to fight the restraining order. During this hearing will be your chance to tell your side of the story. Once the judge has ruled, an appeal rarely overturns the judge’s decision, so it’s important to get this right.

After the initial hearing, if you are looking to terminate the order, Washington law requires that you file a motion to set aside the restraining order. With the help of a lawyer, put a specific reason you feel the restraining order should be terminated in your motion.

Next, send a copy of the motion to terminate the mail’s restraining order to the person who filed for the original restraining order. Delivering the motion via the mail is critical; delivering it in person would violate the restraining order and could land you in bigger trouble.

Then, you’ll need a hearing date from either the clerk of the court or from the administrative assistant of the judge assigned to the case. Written notification of the hearing date needs to be sent to the person who filed the restraining order. At the hearing, your lawyer will present evidence as to why the restraining order should be terminated.

What Should I Do If I’ve Been Severed With A Restraining Order In Washington State?

If you have been served with a temporary restraining order in Washington State, reach out to the legal team at VanWa Legal right away. Our team can advise you on your rights and potential next steps.

Responding on time to the temporary order sets the tone for your entire case, and sometimes you’ll have less than four days to respond. Because of this time limit, it’s critical you call VanWa Legal right away. Your best shot at fighting the restraining order requires a seasoned criminal attorney on your side.

During the hearing, we will help you fight the restraining order. This brief hearing is your one shot to fight the restraining order, so it’s essential you have the proper representation right away.

Collateral Damage from False Accusations of Domestic Abuse

Domestic violence is rightly decried as abhorrent behavior and it is universally accepted that perpetrators of spousal and other domestic abuse should be punished to the full extent of the law. But heavy-handed laws, overzealous social workers and even well-meaning friends of alleged victims of abuse can create an environment where it is all too easy to falsely accuse a spouse or other cohabitant and cause serious damage to that person’s life. Even if the accused is later exonerated, often the damage to the persons reputation will be permanently colored in the eyes of their peers.

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What Is Unlawful Imprisonment In Domestic Violence Cases?

In domestic violence cases, false imprisonment is when the alleged abuser physically detains their victim either by using physical force or threatening violence against them if they left their home or current location.

The legal definition of false imprisonment is the unlawful restraint of another unwilling person without legal justification [1]. False imprisonment is a felony charge and is considered an intentional tort, which means it is a wrongful act committed with the intent to harm someone else.

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When Does ‘Assault’ Become ‘Domestic Violence’ In Washington State

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

Protection from Domestic Violence: The Attorney’s Role

Domestic Violence in vancouver waVictims of domestic violence have been subjected to harrowing events over extended periods of time. The most important way to help break the cycle of violence is by building multi-layer support structures to allow those effected to begin a new, better phase in their lives. Hiring an experienced attorney is an important part of your support team.

Domestic Violence and the Law

Although domestic violence is almost universally covered in state and federal law, it is extremely complex and working within the system almost without exceptions, brings out the worst in the people involved. There are many issues regarding the proper timing and maintenance of court orders so that you and your loved ones are protected to the fullest extent possible. Having experienced professionals helping you keep track of your legal obligations can help you better utilize your other support resources throughout your journey.

Role Your Attorney Plays in Protecting You from Domestic Violence

Although it is possible for you to get an emergency court order to protect you from the your current situation, there are several legal instruments and procedures that an attorney can assist greatly with that you probably can’t do yourself. Even if it is possible to do some things yourself, it is important for you to realize that you almost certainly won’t be able to do everything you need to without help. Part of getting better is knowing when you need help and having the courage to ask for it. Things your attorney can do include:

  1. File a protection or no-contact order
  2. Get a divorce
  3. File a lawsuit against the violent party
  4. Help with custody proceedings
  5. The Importance of Emotional and Health Support

Domestic violence leaves both physical and emotional pain that will eventually need to be addressed to build your new life. Working with qualified health professionals such as licensed therapists who offer both group and individual therapy sessions is absolutely critical for dealing with the mental and emotional fallout from the trauma you have suffered. And, unfortunately, working with health professionals to repair the physical injuries is often necessary. Without adequate support here, legal support, no matter how comprehensive, likely won’t be enough to maximize the chances of success.

By getting support from health and legal professionals along with the force of our legal system, victims can get past the nightmares of the past and look forward to a bright new future. Give us a call today if you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence and needs the protection of the courts.