Generally, an incident is classified as domestic violence when a family or household member commits a criminal act on another family or household member. Common domestic violence offenses include assault, malicious mischief, stalking, harassment, false imprisonment, and/or a protection order violation.
Typically, domestic violence involves issues of control and domination, but there are many people charged with domestic violence crimes who do not fall into the control and/or domination categories. Often there are many other issues involved such as divorce, separation, child custody, and alcohol or other drugs.
What You Should Know if Charged With Domestic Violence
Police officers have an extremely important job to do when protecting the public, and their job is complicated by the fact that most of the time they are not present during an alleged domestic violence incident. Instead police officers arrive at the scene after of an incident has occurred. Then they have the difficult task of investigating the crime. An important part of their investigation is interviewing the participants involved in the incident. After the police determine who they believe the primary physical aggressor is, they make an arrest. In Washington State, if the police have reason to believe a crime has occurred between members of a family or household, and it is within four hours of the incident, then an arrest is mandatory.
Getting an Attorney Before You Talk With Police
In most cases, if you are arrested for a domestic violence crime, make sure that you get an attorney before you talk with police. Remember that anything you say can be used against you in a court of law. During an interrogation, a police officer has a tremendous amount of power, and the situation can be a terrifying experience. Your words and intentions can be misinterpreted and/or taken out of context, which could cause you unnecessary legal harm. Because of this, it is crucial that you hire an attorney before you talk with police officers after your arrest.
Document Your Physical Injuries
In most cases, the police take photos of the person they believe to be the victim of the domestic violence crime. However, police officers do not automatically take photos of the person they believe to be the primary physical aggressor. For this reason, it is important that you take photos to document your own injuries
Understanding the Consequences of a Conviction
A conviction for domestic violence can have serious consequences. Generally, most prosecutors and judges in district and municipal courts require defendants convicted of domestic violence crimes to participate in an intensive domestic violence treatment program.
If you are convicted of a domestic violence crime the following can occur:
o Depending on the conviction, you are likely to be put on probation, and you may be required to serve time in jail.
o If the Court requires a state certified counselor to interview you and this counselor makes a finding that you are amenable to treatment, then you are required to participate in an intensive treatment program that can last up to two years.
o If you are employed, you could lose your job and/or a perspective employer could refuse to consider you for employment.
o If you are not a US citizen and depending on your immigration status, a conviction could mean deportation from the United States.