Domestic violence laws differ from state to state. Washington state law defines domestic violence as any criminal act committed by a “family or household member” against another. Domestic violence includes five primary categories of abusive behaviors: physical violence, emotional abuse, sexual assault, economic control and neglect. Crimes associated with domestic violence usually includes assault but the domestic violence “tag” can also be added to many other crimes such as theft, criminal trespass, rape, kidnapping and many other criminal charges. If a crime has been committed against a family or household member, then rest assure, it most likely will be a domestic violence charge.
In the State of Washington, the law requires a police officer responding to an incident of domestic violence to make an arrest if the officer has probable cause to believe that a domestic violence assault or other serious domestic violence offense was committed within the previous four hours.
If the officer determines that family or household members have assaulted each other, the officer will arrest only the person he or she believes to be the primary aggressor. State law also requires mandatory arrest for violations of No Contact Orders and Civil Protection Orders.
In many cases, the alleged victim may change their mind and attempt to retract the case. Unfortunately, if charges are filed, only the prosecutor has the authority to dismiss them. A judge must approve the prosecutor’s request to dismiss a case. The victim is a witness for the state and has no authority to drop charges. In many cases, the State will prosecute a case even if the victim refuses to testify.
Washington state provides several remedies and protections for victims of domestic violence. These may include:
- Protective Orders: Victims of domestic violence can apply for protection against the abuse by filing domestic violence protection orders, no-contact orders, and civil anti-harassment protection orders in civil court.
- Civil Lawsuit: The victim may file a civil lawsuit to recover losses and expenses such as medical bills or pain and suffering damages
- Custody/Child or Spousal Support Orders: These may be modified to prevent any further incidence of violence between spouses, children, or other persons
If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer.