Contrary to popular belief, there is no crime of “domestic violence” in Washington State. In Washington, Domestic Violence is not a crime in and of itself; it is an identifier (“D.V.”) that is linked to a crime allegedly occurring between a specific defendant and victim who are related by blood or marriage, reside together, have a child in common, or have been in a serious dating relationship. Thus, when there is an assault committed by one household member on another, it is charged as “Assault – D.V.” When a girlfriend breaks the property of her longtime boyfriend, it is charged as “Malicious Mischief – D.V.”
The important thing to know about the “D.V.” identifier is that it carries special punishment and sentencing considerations and can have collateral consequences far beyond the immediate impact of time to serve or fines to be paid if a person is found guilty of a “D.V.” offense. In addition to the ordinary penalties handed out by a Court for a crime (e.g., jail, work crew, probation, fines, etc.), the “D.V.” identifier can result in a number of enhanced penalties including:
These penalties are bad enough, but with a “D.V.” conviction comes a great deal of collateral consequences as well. A D.V. conviction can interfere with your custodial rights, and may have implications in a subsequent divorce or family law matter. A D.V. conviction can prevent you from employment and licensing opportunities (e.g., law enforcement, education, licensed day care/in-home care, social work, etc.), or even prevent a person from participating in family related activities such as coaching youth sports, volunteering in school, or serving as a boy scout leader. Finally, a D.V. conviction can interfere with international travel plans and immigration.
Make no mistake, domestic violence charges bring steep consequences and that is why it’s important to seek experienced attorneys – ones who are familiar with these cases and can quickly build a solid defense for you. At Spencer & Sundstrom, we have a combined 50 years in the courts of Washington defending people accused of domestic violence related offenses. From the first appearance in court to the final resolution of case, our office stands ready to protect and defend the interests of our clients.
If you are someone you know has been arrested for or charged with a domestic violence offense, there is not a moment to lose.
Call our office at (360) 896-7477 for a consultation, or fill out an online form.