Domestic violence offenses

King County criminal defense attorney discusses domestic violence offenses

Domestic violence in Washington state is not one specific crime. It encompasses virtually any crime that is committed by one member of a family or household against another. A family or household member means persons who are or were married; persons who reside or have resided together; persons who are or were dating (so long as both are at least 16); and persons who have had a child together. Also included are parents, step-parents, grandparents, step- grandparents, children, step-children, and siblings.

Misdemeanor domestic violence offenses include assault, malicious mischief, harassment, reckless endangerment, and intimidation with a weapon. Felony domestic violence offenses are more serious offenses such as assault with a deadly weapon and murder.


Domestic violence offenses may be misdemeanors, gross misdemeanors, or felonies. Misdemeanors are punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Gross misdemeanors are punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. Felonies are punishable by more than a year in prison.

Defendants convicted of a first domestic violence misdemeanor offense are usually placed on probation for several years and ordered to complete a domestic violence treatment program.

Domestic violence convictions can have serious consequences besides fines and jail, such as loss of employment or employment opportunities and restrictions on your right to possess and carry a firearm.

When the police arrive

Many domestic violence charges result from misunderstandings that spiraled out of control. Most people have no idea of the serious legal repercussions of calling the police on a domestic violence incident.

If law enforcement officers respond to a domestic violence call, someone will probably go to jail. In Washington, officers are required to arrest a person if they have probable cause to believe that he or she has committed a domestic violence assault or other serious offense. In the case of a mutual assault, the officers identify the “primary aggressor” and take that person to jail.

If you are arrested

If you are arrested for a domestic violence offense, you will be taken to jail and held there until you are brought before a judge, which might not be until the next day. The judge may set bail or release you without bail (“on your own personal recognizance”).

As soon as you are released, you need to find an experienced King County criminal defense attorney to handle your case. You will need immediate advice on how to conduct yourself while your case is pending. Guidance from a knowledgeable King County criminal defense attorney at this point is crucial to avoid taking any action that will damage your case or get you into further trouble.

No contact orders

The judge may issue a no contact order prohibiting you from contacting the “victim.”

You absolutely must obey the no-contact order. Do not have any kind of contact with the alleged “victim.” Do not go to the “victim’s” residence, workplace, or school, no matter how badly you want to talk things over, apologize, or resolve your differences. Do not try to contact the “victim” in person, through a third person, or by mail, phone, text message, or email.

Violating a no contact order is a separate offense. Each contact you have with the alleged “victim” can be treated as a separate violation of the no contact order. The first two violations are misdemeanors but the third violation of a no contact order is a felony. That means after sending just three text messages, you could be charged with a felony. If you need to contact the alleged “victim” for any reason, even for such urgent matters as child care or payment of financial obligations, you MUST do it through your attorney.

Your arraignment

The arraignment is when you are formally charged. You arraignment may take place when you first go before the judge or it may be scheduled for a later date. At the arraignment, you will be given a complaint issued by the prosecuting attorney’s office. The complaint will inform you of the charges. The judge will ask you to enter a plea. You should always plead “NOT GUILTY.”

DO NOT say anything about the facts of your case on the record in court. Anything you say can be used against you.

After your plea, the judge will give you a “pre-trial” date to appear again in court. At the “pre-trial” hearing, your attorney will negotiate with the prosecutor to get an offer to resolve the case. A typical case may take several hearings to resolve. If a favorable offer is not forthcoming from the prosecutor, a trial may be necessary.

King County criminal defense attorney offers understanding and a vigorous defense

Our attorney understands that a domestic violence charge is tough to face. You are probably feeling worried and isolated. You may have been ostracized by family and friends. Rest assured that she will not judge you. Our attorney is an expert King County criminal defense attorney who will advocate vigorously for you making sure the court hears your side of the story. She will keep you informed every step of the way.

Our attorney’s goal is to resolve domestic violence matters quickly so that you and your family member can resume your life together or move forward apart. To speak with her about your domestic violence case, please complete the Free Case Evaluation form on this page, and she will respond promptly. Or call her toll-free number provided above.