Allegations of domestic violence are scary, hurtful, and even embarrassing. Conviction can lead to serious consequences, including hefty fines, jail time, and loss of parental rights.
Some domestic violence allegations are the result of a misunderstanding - neighbors may have overheard a heated argument, or your spouse or domestic partner called the police in the heat of the of the moment but does not want to press charges.
Unfortunately, once the police have been called and you have been charged, prosecutors are unlikely to dismiss the case, even if the victim decides they do not want to pursue it.
If you are facing domestic violence charges in Washington state, you need to take appropriate steps to defend yourself. An experienced Washington criminal defense lawyer can help.
Domestic violence occurs when someone commits a crime such as rape, assault, stalking, trespass, or burglary against someone who is a member of their family or household.
Unlike many other states, Washington does not punish assault crimes more severely if the victim is a member of the same household. However, Washington does require that police officers arrest someone if they have probable cause to believe that the person violated a protective order or assaulted a family member in the past four hours. Also, a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor domestic violence conviction could lead to a maximum probation term of 60 months. In contrast, if the conviction is for the same crime but not domestic violence, the maximum probation term is 24 months.
If you have been charged with domestic violence in Washington, contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible after the arrest to begin preparing your defense.
Common defenses to allegations of domestic violence include:
A common defense to domestic violence allegations is that the victim is lying. Victims may make allegations of domestic violence out of spite or anger, in an effort to try to gain the upper hand in a divorce or custody case, or because of a personal vendetta against the accused.
Your criminal defense lawyer will look for inconsistencies in the evidence and the victim's version of events to show that the victim is not telling the truth.
Perhaps you simply cannot have committed the crime you are accused of. Your lawyer will offer an alternate explanation of the victim’s injuries, or present evidence that you have an alibi or were not in the vicinity of where the incident of domestic violence occurred.
Even if you acknowledge that you were there and that the victim was injured, you may be able to claim that the victim’s injuries were an accident.
In order to prove domestic violence assault, the prosecutor must prove that you intended to harm the victim. If the prosecutor cannot prove intent, you cannot be convicted of domestic violence assault.
You are allowed to use reasonable force to protect yourself or your children. If the victim has a history of violence, was the initial aggressor, or you believed the threat of injury was imminent, you may be able to claim self-defense.
In any criminal case the state must prove the defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecution cannot meet this burden, you cannot be convicted. Your lawyer will look at the facts of the case and point out inconsistencies in the evidence, such as that your wounds are defensive (or the victim’s injuries are not defensive in nature), whether there is independent testimony supporting the victim’s version of the events, and whether the police report shows the presence of a weapon or damaged property.
If the victim has a history of violence, this may be helpful in proving that the violence was a result of the victim’s behavior.
Technical defenses are available as a defense to all allegations of criminal wrongdoing, and include claims that the police failed to read you your Miranda rights, that you were denied the opportunity to speak to a lawyer, that you were questioned after asserting your right to remain silent, that the police officers lacked probable cause, bias, or other problems with the police report.
If you have been charged with domestic violence in Washington state, an experienced criminal defense lawyer can help.
Criminal defense attorney Justin Campbell will investigate the charges against you, and defend you against allegations of domestic violence.
The Campbell Law Firm proudly represents people in Oak Harbor, Coupeville, Friday Harbor, and all courts in Skagit County, including Anacortes, Mount Vernon, Burlington, and Sedro-Woolley.