When the police are called during a domestic dispute in Seattle or another Western Washington jurisdiction, an arrest almost always results. If you are accused of unwanted physical contact, damaging property, or threatening harm, that is probable cause for an arrest.
All too often, law enforcement will take the side of the person who made the 911 call. Most domestic violence (DV) arrests have unfair elements that are based on either exaggerations or false accusations made during the heat of the moment. These situations can result in your rights being trampled on.
What really happened can be very different from what is in the police report, especially when intoxicants such as alcohol or drugs are involved. Regardless of what did or did not happen, you deserve the best possible criminal defense representation.
After the Arrest
It is a common misunderstanding that after the arrest, the alleged victim can decide to press charges or drop charges. In Washington State, it is ultimately the prosecutor’s decision to file charges or dismiss the case.
In Western Washington courts, prosecutors often press charges against the wishes of the alleged victim. If the accuser wants to recant or take back statements made to the police, they can be charged with making a false statement to the police, which is a gross misdemeanor.
A domestic violence attorney should be involved as early in the process as possible, including pre-charge representation. It is not advisable to wait until charges have been filed.
During the early stages of a case, a DV lawyer can sometimes prevent:
- Criminal charges from being filed
- Incriminating statements from being made
- More serious or additional charges from being filed
- Court orders prohibiting contact with the purported victim
- Unnecessary jail time
Common Domestic Violence Charges
Domestic Assault – If there are allegations of unwanted physical contact, Domestic Assault charges are normally filed. Domestic Violence laws do not require a visible mark to be left or any other injury to have occurred. Law enforcement officers are trained to ask the alleged victim if hands were placed on the throat area, as a choking accusation is a felony domestic violence charge.
No Contact Order Violation – In Seattle, Bellevue, Kent, and other parts of King County, court orders preventing communication with the purported victim are normally issued after an arrest for domestic violence. These orders are very easy to violate and can cause considerable hardship. A violation of a No Contact Order is an additional criminal charge.
Harassment – Even if there is no physical contact or damage to property, threats of harm to a person or their property is enough to result in an arrest for Harassment. Police will err on the side of the threat being serious, even if you intended the “threat” to be a joke.
Malicious Mischief – When there are accusations of damaged property, criminal charges for Malicious Mischief or Destruction of Property are likely. You can be arrested for damaging your own property during a domestic argument.
Defending DV Charges
Much of the information in the police report is hearsay and there is oftentimes no witness to back up the story of the alleged victim. If there was a physical struggle resulting in an injury, it can be difficult to prove who instigated the fight and who was acting in self-defense.
At Beckwith DV Law, we have successfully defended over 1000 clients accused of domestic violence. We will conduct an independent investigation to uncover any evidence that is favorable to your defense. A carefully crafted defense will put you in the best possible light, even in situations where guilt may have been admitted to the police.
In most situations, we can convince the prosecutor that they do not have enough evidence to meet Washington State’s burden of proof and win at trial. This can allow for a settlement that results in a case dismissal or significantly reduced consequences.
You always have the option to go to trial. However, the great majority of our clients are happy with the settlements we negotiate and choose to avoid the risk and stress of a jury trial.
We defend criminal accusations in Seattle, Bellevue, Everett, Kent, and other courtrooms throughout King, Snohomish, Pierce, and Kitsap County.
You can call us any day of the week (including after-hours) for a free consultation.