Consequences of a Washington Domestic Violence Charge
If you are facing an accusation of domestic violence in Washington state, you are facing very serious and long-term potential consequences. Washington DV laws require that any case involving an allegation of domestic violence be labeled as a DV case and law enforcement, prosecutors and courts to take DV cases very seriously. Because DV related cases are taken so seriously in Washington state, even an unproven allegation can have significant impacts on your freedom and rights.
Specifically, Washington DV charges can result in:
- Your Immediate arrest and incarceration in jail when the police respond to a domestic violence call. Washington state has a mandatory arrest law for cases relating to domestic violence. This law requires that the police make an arrest when responding to a DV call if there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed. This is true even if you have no criminal history, the accusations are just one person's word against yours, there are no injuries, or the accusations are relatively minor. RCW 10.99.030
- A court issuing a domestic violence no-contact order which prevents you from returning home or having contact with family or loved ones. A judge will issue a DV no contact order at the first court appearance at the prosecutor's request even if the person protected by the order does not want it. RCW 10.99.040
- A requirement that you not possess any firearms or dangerous weapons as a condition of release from jail. You can also be required to turn over any weapons you own to law enforcement while the case is pending. This can be especially damaging if you work in a position that requires you to possess a firearm (i.e. the military, law enforcement, security work). RCW 9.41.800
If you plead guilty to a Washington DV crime or are convicted after a trial you would face the following consequences:
- Potential jail time.
- Fines and costs.
- Court ordered participation in a twelve month state approved Domestic Violence Batterer’s Treatment Program at your expense.
- Issuance of a no-contact order that can remain in effect during the entire time the court has jurisdiction (such as two years). This can, and often will, be imposed even if the other party to the order does not want it. RCW 10.99.040
- Loss of your right to possess a firearm. This loss is permanent unless you successfully petition to court to reinstate your rights and in certain circumstances can never be restored. This is true even if you are employed in a field that requires you to lawfully possess a weapon (i.e. the military, law enforcement, security work). RCW 9.41.040
- Limitations on your rights to residential custody and visitation with your children. RCW 26.09.191 & RCW 26.10.160
- Serious immigration consequences if you are not a United States citizen.