Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) is intended to increase awareness and advocacy across the nation. The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence describes some of the key themes of DVAM including mourning those who have died because of domestic violence, celebrating those who have survived, and joining together to end violence.
The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) is another organization passionate about putting an end to the violence. NNEDV states that domestic violence thrives when we are silent, but if we take a stand and work together, we can end it. Please see the organization’s website about ways to raise awareness and get involved.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month seems like an appropriate time to discuss domestic violence from a legal perspective. 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.
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
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”. Please see our prior blog post for further information about the interfering with domestic violence reporting statute.
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 a criminal defense attorney who will help you to understand your rights and options, including determining whether to file a protection order.
These are significant charges and you should not try to tackle them without experienced counsel to advise you appropriately and advocate on your behalf.