How do I respond to Domestic Violence charges in Pierce County?
Can I fight a Domestic Violence charge in Tacoma?
Of course you can!
Domestic Violence charges are no different from any other type of charge when it comes to the prosecution's burden of proof. Domestic Violence charges must still be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. You have the Constitutional right to defend yourself at trial.
What makes a charge "Domestic Violence?"
A "Domestic Violence" offense is a criminal offense committed by a family or household member against another or by one intimate partner against another intimate partner.
Intimate partners are (as defined by statute):
- Spouses, or domestic partners;
- Former spouses, or former domestic partners;
- Persons who have a child in common regardless of whether they have been married or have lived together at any time;
- Adult persons presently or previously residing together who have or have had a dating relationship;
- A dating relationship is a social relationship of a romantic nature. Factors that the court may consider in making this determination include:
- The length of time the relationship has existed;
- The nature of the relationship; and
- The frequency of interaction between the parties.
- Persons sixteen years of age or older who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past and who have or have had a dating relationship; and
- Persons sixteen years of age or older with whom a person sixteen years of age or older has or has had a dating relationship.
What are the short-term consequences of Domestic Violence charges in Tacoma?
Washington law states that police responding to a domestic violence call must make an arrest of one of the parties if there is probable cause to believe that a crime has occurred. Police will tend to use even slight evidence of a crime to justify an arrest. It is unlikely that you will talk your way out of being arrested once police arrive on scene. You should always remember that you have a right to remain silent when being questioned by police.
Once in custody, you will be brought before the court within one judicial day of the arrest. At this point, you will have the chance to ask for release. If the court grants release, it is highly likely that there will be conditions of release. These can include electronic monitoring, not being allowed to possess firearms, monitored sobriety, and most commonly, a no-contact order.
A no-contact order is almost always imposed in domestic violence cases. Even if the alleged victim appears in court and does not want such an order, it can be imposed over the alleged victim's wishes. Violation of such an order can give rise to a new, separate offense of its own. It is important to abide by any no-contact order for as long as it is in effect. Getting an order modified or lifted, although difficult, may be possible with the help of an experienced domestic violence attorney.
The person who is protected by the no-contact order does not have the ability to waive, ignore or change it in any way. Even if that person tells you they want to have contact, you can be found in violation of the order. Only the court can change the terms of the no-contact order.
What are the possible long-term consequences of a Domestic Violence conviction in Tacoma?
Since "Domestic Violence" is a term that is applied to several types of offenses, the penalty range can vary as well. A DV case can be a misdemeanor or a felony or a combination of multiple charges. The sentence will depend on the types of charges, the specific facts of the case and the criminal history of the person charged.
Jail or prison is a possibility, depending on the circumstances. Probation, a lengthy no-contact order, mandatory domestic violence education classes and the permanent loss of the right to own a firearm are also consequences of a conviction. With so much at stake, you should not tackle domestic violence charges without the assistance of a highly qualified attorney.