Domestic Violence

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

The State considers a criminal charge to be domestic violence when they believe that a criminal act was committed against a family or household member. The State defines a family or household member as spouses, domestic partners, former spouses, 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 related by blood or marriage, adult persons who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past, 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, persons sixteen years of age or older with whom a person sixteen years of age or older has or has had a dating relationship, and persons who have a biological or legal parent-child relationship, including stepparents and stepchildren and grandparents and grandchildren.

While a domestic violence designation can be applied to just about any criminal charge, it is most typical for domestic violence designations to be applied to assault, malicious mischief and Harassment charges.

DV Assault can be divided into four categories:

Assault in the First Degree. Assault 1 is what is commonly known as a strike offense. If an individual receives three strike convictions in his or her life he or she will be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. The amount of time that someone may be sentenced to is typically based upon the nature of the offense and the crime charged. Clearly, Assault 1 is a most serious offense. The elements of Assault 1 are as follows:

  • (1) A person is guilty of assault in the first degree if he or she, with intent to inflict great bodily harm:
  • (a) Assaults another with a firearm or any deadly weapon or by any force or means likely to produce great bodily harm or death; or
  • (b) Administers, exposes, or transmits to or causes to be taken by another, poison, the human immunodeficiency virus as defined in chapter 70.24 RCW, or any other destructive or noxious substance; or
  • (c) Assaults another and inflicts great bodily harm.
  • (2) Assault in the first degree is a class A felony.
  • When the person that the State is claiming you assaulted is a family or household member it is considered Assault 1 DV.

Assault in the Second Degree. Assault 2 is what is commonly known as a strike offense. If an individual receives three strike convictions in his or her life he or she will be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. The amount of time that someone may be sentenced to is typically based upon the nature of the offense and the crime charged. Clearly, Assault 1 is a most serious offense. The elements of Assault 1 are as follows:

(1) A person is guilty of assault in the second degree if he or she, under circumstances not amounting to assault in the first degree:

(a) Intentionally assaults another and thereby recklessly inflicts substantial bodily harm; or

(b) Intentionally and unlawfully causes substantial bodily harm to an unborn quick child by intentionally and unlawfully inflicting any injury upon the mother of such child; or

(c) Assaults another with a deadly weapon; or

(d) With intent to inflict bodily harm, administers to or causes to be taken by another, poison or any other destructive or noxious substance; or

(e) With intent to commit a felony, assaults another; or

(f) Knowingly inflicts bodily harm which by design causes such pain or agony as to be the equivalent of that produced by torture; or

(g) Assaults another by strangulation or suffocation.

(2)(a) Except as provided in (b) of this subsection, assault in the second degree is a class B felony.

(b) Assault in the second degree with a finding of sexual motivation under RCW 9.94A.835 or 13.40.135 is a class A felony

* When the alleged act is alleged to have been against a household or family member it becomes Assault 2 DV.

Assault in the Third Degree. Assault in the 3rd degree is a felony offense. The elements for assault 3 DV are typically as follows

(1) A person is guilty of assault in the third degree if he or she, under circumstances not amounting to assault in the first or second degree:

  • With criminal negligence, causes bodily harm to another person by means of a weapon or other instrument or thing likely to produce bodily harm; or
  • With criminal negligence, causes bodily harm accompanied by substantial pain that extends for a period sufficient to cause considerable suffering;

* When the alleged act is alleged to have been against a household or family member it becomes Assault 3 DV

Assault 4th Degree: Assault in the 4th degree is a gross misdemeanor. Gross misdemeanors are punishable by up to 364 days in Jail and a $5,000 dollar fine, The elements of Assault 4th degree are as follows:

(1) A person is guilty of assault in the fourth degree if, under circumstances not amounting to assault in the first, second, or third degree, or custodial assault, he or she assaults another.

* When the alleged act is alleged to have been against a household or family member it becomes Assault 4 DV.

Harassment: Harassment can be either a misdemeanor or felony depending upon the nature of the threat made to another person. Harassment is typically defined as follows:

  • (1) A person is guilty of harassment if:
  • (a) Without lawful authority, the person knowingly threatens:
  • (i) To cause bodily injury immediately or in the future to the person threatened or to any other person; or
  • (ii) To cause physical damage to the property of a person other than the actor; or
  • (iii) To subject the person threatened or any other person to physical confinement or restraint; or
  • (iv) Maliciously to do any other act which is intended to substantially harm the person threatened or another with respect to his or her physical or mental health or safety; and
  • (b) The person by words or conduct places the person threatened in reasonable fear that the threat will be carried out. "Words or conduct" includes, in addition to any other form of communication or conduct, the sending of an electronic communication.

* Harassment is considered Harassment DV when the alleged victim is a family or household member as defined by the law.

If you are accused of domestic violence it is critical that you retain an attorney that is dedicated to your cause. You need an attorney that will thoroughly investigate your case. After collecting all of the evidence, your attorney should be able to develop a compelling theory of innocence or reduced culpability. It is important that your attorney be prepared to take your case all the way to trial if the facts and circumstances warrant it.

Our firm has had success in helping our clients address domestic violence allegations. There are occasions when we have been able to gain dismissals or significant reductions prior to trial. We have also had a great deal of success with these types of cases during trial.

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