In Washington, “domestic violence” is a term applying to a variety of different offenses. It can be both a civil and criminal issue. “Domestic violence” can also be a label attached to a separately charged crime, which will enhance the penalties of the underlying crime. But regardless of exactly how it is used, the consequences of being charged with domestic violence can ripple out to affect many parts of your life.
Being charged with domestic violence may feel overwhelming, but there are defenses, and The Marshall Defense Firm can help you find them. We are ready to defend you vigorously and creatively against any such charge. We have the skills needed to fight for you every step of the way, from the investigation, through hearings and, if necessary, to trial.
Criminal Domestic Violence
Committing one of a long list of crimes (for example assault, trespass, or burglary) against a family member is considered, “domestic violence.” The law then provides for a variety of special procedural remedies, including providing for immediate issuance of no contact orders, which would make it a crime to contact the victim.
The effects of the domestic violence label can continue even after conviction. Thus, vacating a misdemeanor conviction for domestic violence takes five years after completing a sentence, unlike three years for other misdemeanors.
Simply violating a protection order, even one obtained in a civil action (e.g. during a divorce) is considered a gross misdemeanor. Under some circumstances, for example, if the violation is itself an assault, or if there are prior violations, violating a protection order will be a felony.
Civil Domestic Violence
If someone is willing to swear you committed an act of domestic violence, they can seek a domestic violence protection order (DVPO). A court will need to find that there’s been “[p]hysical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault, between family or household members.”
The term “family members” is defined broadly, and can include people who are unmarried, perhaps in a dating relationship. The protection order can prevent you from any contact with the alleged victim, exclude you from your own home, and require participation in domestic violence treatment programs.
Whatever the source of a domestic violence protection order, it will be registered with the police. And although it’s a civil remedy, a violation of a civil protection order is a crime.
Other Consequences of a DVPO
The consequences of being the subject of a domestic violence protection order can be profound. You may be required to surrender all firearms, along with your concealed weapon license. A failure to surrender would itself be a separate felony, under both state and federal law.
During dissolution proceedings, a finding of domestic violence can also be the basis for restricting or eliminating contact with children.
And there are other ramifications. For example, anyone violating a protection order by returning to their home and speaking to their spouse may be found to have committed burglary (in addition to the crime of violating a protection order), a more serious crime than simple trespass.
Defenses against Charges of Domestic Violence
Before a court will issue a protection order against you, the person complaining must show, by a preponderance of evidence (more than 50%) that you did commit a violent act or made a violent threat.
Consent of the protected person is not a defense to a protection order. Therefore, even if you are invited to return home, or meet somewhere by someone listed in a protection order, you may be committing a crime.
The Marshall Defense Firm Knows How to Defend You
The person claiming domestic violence, or a violation of a protection order, has the burden of proving it. We will do the investigation needed to show what actually happened in an alleged incident of domestic violence. Sometimes the initial reports and allegations can be shown to have only a slight connection to real events.
If you are being criminally prosecuted, we will scrutinize the government’s conduct and its consistency with constitutional standards. Did they make an arrest without probable cause, or conduct an unreasonable search? If you were questioned, did the police obey rules against coercive interrogation? Are the police relying on statements that couldn’t be used at trial without violating your right to confront your accusers?
We will look for every opportunity to challenge the evidence gathered against you. We will work to keep unfair and unreliable evidence out of your trial.
Even if the case against you is strong, we can take steps to lessen its impact on your life. If yours is a civil case, we can work with the opposing party, to find alternative methods of resolving conflict. If it is a criminal case, we can negotiate with the government in search of a compromise you prefer to the risks of trial.
Finally, if it does come to a trial, you will be in good hands at The Marshall Defense Firm. We have won many trials and are often invited to teach trial skills to other lawyers. Our knowledge of trial tactics has been honed by experience, and we will use all our knowledge to fight for you.
What it’s Like to Have The Marshall Defense Firm in Your Corner
Respect and compassion are the foundation of our work. We take time to get to know you and your case. It’s where our fierce advocacy for you begins.
Then there’s our experience. For decades we have defended clients against a variety of criminal charges, including domestic violence. From that and our on-going study of the law, medicine, and psychology involved in these cases, we have exceptional skill.
And we pool that skill. We work as a team. We know that no one lawyer, no matter how brilliant, will have all the good ideas for your case.
Our final ingredient is relentless investigation and preparation. When we step into court to defend you, we are ready to do it well.