Washington state law ardently prosecutes crimes of domestic violence, and conviction can involve very serious and long-lasting consequences. This is not to be taken lightly. Furthermore, if you commit a crime of domestic violence and then in any way prevent or attempt to prevent the victim from reporting the crime, you may face an additional charge: “interfering with the reporting of domestic violence”.
Domestic Violence Crimes:
Domestic violence is defined by Washington state law as any crime committed by one family or household member against another (RCW 26.50.010), which involves physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, or assault. It is often assumed that domestic violence only applies to couples in an intimate relationship. While this is the most common, it is not the only type of relationship included in the definition. Roommates, siblings, and other domestic relationships as defined in RCW 10.99.020 are also included.
Some of the crimes connected with domestic violence include, but are not limited to:
- Reckless endangerment
- Drive-by shooting
- Criminal trespassing
- Malicious mischief
- Unlawful imprisonment
- Violation of protection order
- Manslaughter or murder
- Interfering with the reporting of domestic violence
Interfering with the reporting of domestic violence:
If you commit a crime of domestic violence and then in any way prevent or attempt to prevent the victim from reporting the crime, you may also be charged with interfering with reporting domestic violence.
This statute is defined as follows: (RCW 9A.36.150)
(1) A person commits the crime of interfering with the reporting of domestic violence if the person:
- (a) Commits a crime of domestic violence, as defined in RCW 10.99.020; and
- (b) Prevents or attempts to prevent the victim of or a witness to that domestic violence crime from calling a 911 emergency communication system, obtaining medical assistance, or making a report to any law enforcement official.
(2) Commission of a crime of domestic violence under subsection (1) of this section is a necessary element of the crime of interfering with the reporting of domestic violence.
(3) Interference with the reporting of domestic violence is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a $5,000 fine.
Depending upon the classification, circumstances, and severity of the crime, domestic violence convictions may be classified as misdemeanor or felony and penalties may vary significantly. In any case, it is important to understand that domestic violence related cases are taken very seriously in Washington state and consequences can be life altering. Some of the repercussions of a domestic violence arrest or conviction may include jail time, large fines, protection orders, court ordered counseling, and loss of gun rights. This is in addition the long term impacts of a having a criminal record, which may impact employment opportunities, immigration, and even your relationships.
*If you are ever in an emergency situation, please call 911 immediately. Safety first!
If you are seeking protection following a domestic violence situation, please contact an attorney who will help you to understand your rights and options, including determining whether to file a protection order.
If you find yourself in a position where you are being charged with a domestic violence related crime, including interfering with reporting of domestic violence or defending against a protection order, please don’t waste any time in enlisting competent legal counsel. These are significant charges and you should not try to tackle them without experienced counsel to advise you appropriately and advocate on your behalf.