Why Can't my DV Case just be Dismissed?

We at SQ Attorneys are often asked by potential clients: (1) why prosecutors simply don’t understand that what someone may allege is not necessarily the truth; (2) why would a prosecutor pursue a case when justice would dictate that it be summarily dismissed; and (3) why can’t we just explain the truth and have the prosecutor believe our side of the story? Distraught, these folks can’t comprehend how the prosecutor doesn’t understand that they are ruining people’s lives? Well, the problem is that prosecutors often have their own lives … and careers … on the line. The last thing a prosecutor wants is to outright dismiss a case and be blamed for a death or an injury that subsequently occurs because he didn’t prosecute a case.

The deadly domestic violence incident that recently happened in Federal Way, Washington highlights what prosecutors fear the most should they summarily dismiss a case, whether it is the right decision or not.

Last Sunday a 27-year-old gunman fatally shot his live-in girlfriend at an apartment then killed three men, including a neighbor who told others to call 911 and retreated inside his unit before the gunman blasted open the door with a shotgun and opened fire. Police encountered a chaotic situation in Federal Way when they responded to reports of gunshots. The responding officers ultimately shot and killed the gunman in a nearby parking lot after the suspect confronted them with a shotgun in a stairwell then fled to the parking lot; he was killed on the ground while reaching for a handgun. Investigators believe the shooter may also have been trying to kill on-scene witnesses.

“This is one of the most dangerous … calls for law enforcement to respond to,” Federal Way Police Chief Brian Wilson said. Police believe the gunman shot his girlfriend in their apartment and then killed the two younger men after he left the unit. “When officers arrived there were still shots being fired,” said police spokeswoman Cathy Schrock. Eight officers allegedly fired their weapons. All have been placed on administrative leave, which is standard policy in such situations, as the investigation continues. Chief Wilson said the suspect, who had a valid concealed weapons permit, had no criminal history. However, he had been involved in two prior domestic violence calls in Federal Way and Seattle, the chief said.

The Federal Way case highlights the type of case prosecutor’s are most concerned about, and the kind of case that can put them squarely in the media’s sights if they don’t take prosecutorial action. In short, it may be easier for them to just let a jury make the call and not outright dismiss a case. Even if justice would seem to dictate that the case be summarily dismissed.

If it wasn’t already clear, be on notice that domestic violence allegations are extremely serious in Washington State. Anyone charged with domestic violence in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle domestic violence defense lawyer. The Seattle criminal attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified and reputable Seattle domestic violence defense lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those arrested for domestic violence in Western Washington. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the criminal allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances.

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