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Definitions and Defenses to Washington Domestic Violence Charges

Many crimes can be designated as crimes of domestic violence. While the term "domestic violence" does not itself refer to a crime, many crimes that are committed by one "family or household member" against another are designated as crimes of domestic violence. If a crime is designated as such, the consequences for conviction are generally more severe, often including the right to possess firearms. 

If you are charged with domestic violence, I will fight to save your record, your rights and your freedom. Below you will find definitions of the most common domestic violence charges along with some of the defenses that may apply to you. After looking this material over, contact me, Lynnwood Domestic Violence Defense Attorney Lance Fryrear, for a free consultation on your matter.

Common Washington Domestic Violence Crimes

1.  Assault 4

Assault is committed when the accused intentionally makes unwanted contact with the victim. A push, shove, punch, or kick is enough. Spitting, slapping, or hair pulling is enough. Throwing an object at the victim is enough. If a weapon is used or if serious injury results, a higher level of assault may be charged. Assault 4 is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $5000 fine. Assault 1, Assault 2, and Assault 3 are felonies.
  • Possible Defenses
Assault charges have the highest number of factual defenses. Often the best defense is the defense that you are innocent. The prosecutor must prove that you assaulted the victim beyond a reasonable doubt. This can be difficult. Another common defense is self-defense. If you are found not-guilty by a jury due to self-defense, you may be able to recover the entire cost of your defense including attorney fees and time off work. If you are charged with assault you need to see me at once. I need to interview you and begin working on your defense as possible. With early intervention, we will work hard to avoid a no-contact order being issued against you.

2.  Malicious Mischief

Malicious Mischief is committed when the accused knowingly and maliciously destroys the property of another. Most malicious mischief crimes are punishable by up to one year in jail and a $5000 fine.
  • Possible Defenses
It is not a crime to destroy your own property. If you are married, however, all of your property is presumed to be communal property, and therefore destroying it in anger is illegal. If the damaged property was yours before the marriage, we can argue that the statute does not apply. A common mistake by the police is assuming that a couple is married when in fact they are not. If you are not legally married to the victim, we may be able to assert that you alone owned the property in question. Other possible defenses include accident, prior damage, and lack of damage. There are more hidden defenses with this charge than any other. I can best help you with your case if you contact me as soon as possible so we can gather the necessary evidence to assert the most applicable defense. 

3.  Violation of Protection Orders & Violation of No-Contact Orders

Protection Order Violations or No-Contact Order Violations  are committed when the accused violates the terms of a served order for protection or a served no-contact order. A "protection order" is an order that the protected party petitioned for on his or her own. A "no-contact" order is an order that is issued by a court as part of another criminal proceeding. Violation of either of these types of orders is usually punishable by up to one year in jail and a $5000 fine. A third violation of a protection order, or an assault in violation of an order, is punishable as a felony.
  • Possible Defenses

    If you had no knowledge of the order, then there can be no violation of the order. While it is not a defense that the victim contacted you or invited you over, it may lessen the severity of the charge. Most order defenses are highly factual. To have the best chance, contact me as soon as possible so we can explore your defenses and determine what the prosecutor is likely able to prove.

4.  Harassment

Harassment is committed when the accused threatens to harm the victim and the victim reasonably fears that the threat will be carried out. Harassment is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $5000 fine. A threat to kill or a repeat offense is punishable as a felony.
  • Possible Defenses

    Comments can be interpreted in many ways. If an individual is already in a certain state of mind, a wide variety of statements could be perceived as threats. The prosecutor must prove that your comment was actually an intentional threat. The prosecutor must also prove that the victim reasonably feared that the threat would be carried out.  If you are charged with harassment, it is very important that you discuss your case with no one other than an attorney. The prosecutor will use what you say after the fact against you to argue that your statement was a threat. Contact me as soon as possible so your side of the story can be properly represented. 

5.  Interfering with Reporting Domestic Violence

Interference with Reporting Domestic Violence involves the accused preventing the victim from calling the police after suffering a crime of domestic violence by the accused. This crime is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $5000 fine.
  • Possible Defenses
If you did commit a domestic violence offense, then it is illegal to have interfered with the victim reporting the crime. If, however, you were unaware that the victim was attempting to call the police, you are not guilty of interference. This crime usually is charged along with another domestic violence charge. Often times defeating the underlying domestic violence charge will be enough to have this charge dismissed.
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