Fighting DV Charges
Domestic violence charges are one of the most difficult cases to face both emotionally and for legal reasons due to the extreme consequences. They can be life-changing even.
Often police are called to a heat of the moment argument, even if there is no real threat of harm. Under state law, police are required to make an arrest if they have reason to believe that an act of domestic violence has occurred. Police can arrest you based off an accusation of unwanted physical contact, the infliction of fear or imminent physical harm, stalking or property damage. Often, law enforcement will take the side of the person who made the 911 call. What really happened though can be every different from what is in the police report or from what the 911 caller is saying. Regardless of what happened or did not happen, everyone deserves the best possible criminal defense representation.
After you are charged, it is a common misunderstanding in domestic violence cases that the victim is the one encouraging the prosecutor to press charges and can decide whether to drop charges. The victim has no control over what the prosecutor decides to do, whether to charge or not to charge. Even if the victim wants to drop charges, and it was a whole misunderstanding, only the prosecutor is allowed to make that call.
Prior to a conviction, a court will typically issue a no contact order without the request or permission of the protected party. A no contact order prohibits an individual from contacting a protected party, which includes contact by phone, through writing or through a third party. After an order has been issued, only the court has the authority to remove it. Washington State takes no contact orders very seriously, and any type of communication (even if you think it will help the situation) could put you at jeopardy of getting in more trouble.
Once issued, no contact orders are in place until the case is resolved and can be continued by the court after the case resolves. An attorney can help you modify or argue to the court that a no contact order should be dismissed. Only the court can drop or change the order. If the alleged victim wants to drop or change the order, they must go to court to do this.
When interacting with police it is important to remain silent and request a lawyer. A law enforcement officer can require you to identify yourself but cannot force you to make statements or answer any questions regarding your domestic violence charges. Even if you feel like it is a big misunderstanding, it is always better to decline to make any statements or answer a question until after you have consulted with a lawyer. Anything you said, can be used against you at trial.
If you have been arrested, the police will advise you of your Miranda rights which include the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. If you request to speak with an attorney, the police must stop asking you any questions about the incident until you have had an opportunity to speak with an attorney.
Even if you talked to police and admitted your guilt, there are ways a defense attorney may be able to get that statement suppressed from trial or ways to still work out a beneficial offer in your favor. It is not the end of the road for you, even if you admitted your guilt.
Domestic Violence Charges and Orders
After you are arrested, charges will be pressed. In Washington, domestic violence can be attached to cases where the alleged crime was committed by one family or household member against another or against someone with whom there is a “dating relationship. RCW 10.99.020.
A domestic violence charge is not a charge alone. It will always be attached to another charge, for example, assault in the first-degree DV. The most common domestic violence related crimes are:
- Domestic assaults
- Violation of a no contact order RCW 26.50.110
- Harassment RCW 9A.46.020
- Malicious mischief
- Interfering with Reporting Domestic Violence RCW 9A.36.150
After you are charged, there are potential four types of orders that can be placed against you. The most common order that will be filed by the court is a no contact order.
Four types of orders
- Order of Protection-Domestic Violence
- Restraining Order
- Order of Protection-Anti-Harassment
- No Contact Order
An order of protection-domestic violence prohibits contact of any kind, removes you from the shared residence and prohibits you from entering the residence, orders you into treatment or counseling, and may give temporary custody of children to the alleged victim. A violation of this order will result in a mandatory arrest if you violate the restraint provisions or enter a residence where you were prohibited from entering. You may get possible criminal or contempt charges for violating the protection order.
A restraining order does all that an order for protection-domestic violence does, the court may also order child support, maintenance income, assign property to either party, and establish permanent child custody or use of family home. If violated this order you may be arrested, and possible criminal or contempt charges will be pressed.
Anti-harassment order prohibits harassment and contact of any kind, restrains you from coming within a specific distance from petitioner’s workplace, school, residence etc. If violated, you may be arrested and possible criminal or contempt charges will be pressed.
A no contact order, as discussed above, prohibits contact of any kind while criminal case is active and can be a condition of the sentencing. Any contact, even if through a third person, will be a violation. If violated, you will be arrested. This is the most popular order to result in a potential DV charge. The court is allowed to modify or extend the no contact order, even after the case is resolved.
These four orders are very serious, and any violations may or will results in you being arrested and having criminal or contempt charges pressed against you. It is very important to abide by these orders, even if you disagree with them. Violations can result in additional criminal charges.
Contact Johnson Litigation and we may be able to help you lift these orders.
Domestic violence convictions, whether misdemeanor or felony, can have a lifetime effect on your life. Domestic violence charges can either be misdemeanors or felonies. For example, simple assault DV, assault 4 DV, malicious mischief 3rd degree DV, interfering with reporting a crime of domestic violence, harassment, and violation of a no contact order are all gross misdemeanors. Below are the potential penalties depending on whether your domestic violence charge is a misdemeanor or a felony.
|Type of Charge||Misdemeanors||Felonies|
|Class A Felonies||Class B Felonies||Class C Felonies|
|Potential time||0-364 days in jail||Up to life in prison||Up to 10 years in prison||Up to 5 years in prison|
|Potential fines||$0-500 fine||Up to $50,000 fine||Up to $20,000 fine||Up to $10,000 fine|
Some other serious consequences that can come from a domestic violence arrest or conviction which include
- Potential jail time
- Fines and costs
- Court order participation in a 12-month state approved Domestic Violence Batterer’s Treatment
- Issuance of a no-contact order that can remain in effect during the entire time the court has jurisdiction RCW 10.99.040
- Loss of your right to possess a firearm (which may be permanent) RCW 9.41.040
- Limitations on your rights to residential custody and visitation with your children RCW 26.09.191 and RCW 26.10.160
- Serious immigration consequences if you are not a United States citizen
The State of Washington does not take domestic violence convictions lightly, and a conviction can result in harsh punishments.
Surrendering of Firearms or Licenses
In the state of Washington, anyone who is convicted of a domestic violence charge will also be prohibited from owning a firearm. In Washington, a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction for a fourth-degree assault, harassment, violation of a no-contact order or protection order, stalking, reckless endangerment, coercion, or criminal trespass in the first degree will result in a loss of your firearm rights. In Washington, all felony convictions will result in a loss of firearm rights.
A plea of guilty, a jury verdict of guilty or a disposition by way of a deferred sentence are all considered convictions. You are not exempt from this law even if your job requires you to legally possess a firearm or handle ammunition, which means that upon conviction you may lose your job.
When your firearm rights have been revoked, it is possible to get a felony conviction for just for being in the same room with a gun, even if someone else owns the gun. Possessing a firearm when you have lost your gun rights could be a felony conviction.
Even if your conviction is vacated your gun rights are not automatically restored. You may be able to restore your gun rights for a non-felony offense (misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor) after three consecutive years without having criminal offenses. While a felony offense (excluding Class A felonies), you may petition the court for restoration of your firearm rights after five years without any criminal offenses.
If you meet the eligibility requirements, you will first need to expunge your record in Washington state and file a petition to restore your gun rights. In Spokane County we will be able to help expunge your record and restore your right to possess firearms by filing several documents on your behalf. If you have lost your right to bear arms, and would like to restore your rights, give our office a call today.
Defending DV Charges
A domestic violence charge can result in harsh punishments, including jail, losing your right to possess a firearm, lose your right to vote, an inability to work at the job of your choice, and you could potentially lose your right to have custody of your children. Johnson Litigation can help you through the early stages of a case and throughout the process. During the early stages of a case, we can sometimes prevent criminal charges from being filed, prevent incriminating statements from being made, prevent from getting more serious or additional charges from being filed, preventing court orders prohibiting contact with the purported victim and unnecessary jail time.
Johnson Litigation will protect your rights and mitigate or eliminate the domestic violence penalties. We can help you create a successful defense to hopefully reduce your charge or even dismiss the charge altogether. A common defense in these matters is for the accused to show that they were falsely accused. Domestic violence cases occur during the heat of the moment and information to the police can be fabricated or dramatized. Johnson Litigation can help reveal the truth by conducting witness interviews of individuals that were there and the alleged victim. Other common legal defenses for domestic violence include that it was an act of self-defense, there was a violation of your constitutional rights by the police, or the police operated with bias against you. Johnson Litigation’s team works together to help reduce your charge or even get the charges dismissed.
After charges are pressed, you will need to attend the arraignment, the pretrial, any motion hearings and then the trial. Johnson Litigation will help you throughout this process.
At an arraignment the judge will formally notify you of the charges that have been filed against you. By pleading not guilty at the arraignment, a pre-trial conference will be set.
Once trial starts, Johnson Litigation will aggressively advocate for you. We have routinely helped individual who have faced all types of domestic violence charges including domestic assaults, stalking and violation of a no contact order. Johnson Litigation does not shy away from trial, and our team will work effectively together with you to create the best defense for you.
Talk to a Domestic Violence Attorney Today
If you or a family member have been accused of a domestic violence crime in or around Spokane, contact Johnson Litigation right away. You can set up a free consultation to speak with our team about your case and how our legal resources can help fight the charges you are facing. Additionally, if you have any questions or have an upcoming domestic violence court date, contact us.
At Johnson Litigation, we have the empathy and compassion for the difficult situation that you are facing, and we understand that going through this process is very stressful. We can help you understand your rights and guide you through the legal process. Johnson Litigation will provide you with a strong, aggressive representation that you need during this critical time.
CALL TO GET YOUR FREE CASE EVALUATION!