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.
The penalties of a domestic violence conviction in Washington can be extremely severe. Once you are found guilty, there is no way to avoid the penalties that follow. Your best bet is to seek the advice of an experienced Washington domestic violence defense attorney who will work to avoid the conviction altogether. At the law firm of Spencer & Sundstrom, we provide aggressive defense against all types of felony and misdemeanor domestic violence charges. You can count on us to present the strongest possible case to protect your rights and your freedom. We understand the impact a domestic violence conviction can have on your life, and we will. do everything in our power to beat the charges against you outright.
The list of potential penalties for a domestic violence conviction is lengthy. Below is some additional information on some of the more prevalent ones.
Domestic violence perpetrator treatment program: People convicted of domestic violence are required to attend a state-approved treatment program. The program typically least one year and involves anger management and other types of counseling.
Loss of your right to possess a firearm: This includes the right to possess a firearm for occupational use. If you are in law enforcement or the armed forces, your livelihood could be in jeopardy.
No contact order: A no contact order could be in effect for up to two years or longer after your conviction.
Divorce and Custody: Known as “RCW 26.09.191 factors,” convictions for domestic violence may, in the context of divorce, paternity or child custody related proceedings, serve as a basis for a court to transfer custody of a child away and/or restrict or limit your contact with the child in the future.
Incarceration: Depending on your criminal history and the specific charge, a person accused of a Domestic Violence Offense could be a risk for serving jail time or, under a felony charge, time in prison.
Financial penalties: If convicted, you could be subject to fines, restitution, court costs, probation fees and other penalties. You would also be responsible for the cost of your treatment program.
Contact our office today to talk to one of our attorneys about your domestic violence issue. We will give you an honest assessment of your case and help you understand your legal options. You can reach us by phone at 360-356-1710 or via e-mail. For your convenience, we accept Visa and MasterCard.