In Washington State, being charged with a domestic violence-related crime is a deeply serious matter. That’s because you aren’t simply charged with “domestic violence.” You are charged for the underlying violent crime, and the charge is given a domestic violence designation. The underlying crimes can be misdemeanors or felonies and can carry some very serious consequences..
To put that in perspective, consider that rape with a domestic violence designation is a Class A felony punishable by up to life in prison and $50,000 in fines (Revised Code of Washington, Section 9A.20.021). With stakes that high, learning if and how to get domestic violence charges dismissed in Washington State is incredibly important.
Will & Will can help. In this post, we discuss domestic violence charges and how they get dismissed. For help with your case, reach out to our criminal defense law firm today.
How to Fight a Domestic Violence Charge
The key to getting domestic violence charges dismissed in Washington State is knowing how to fight your charge. Any violent or threatening act you commit against an intimate partner, family member, or member of your household can lead to a domestic violence charge. (Revised Code of Washington, Section 26.50.010).
Here’s how to fight your charge:
1. Contact an Attorney
As soon as possible after you are charged, reach out to an attorney who knows how to handle domestic violence charges in Washington State. Moving through the early stages of the process without a lawyer leaves you vulnerable to mistakes that can end up hurting your defense. The sooner you contact a domestic violence lawyer, the better chance you will get the charges dismissed.
2. Do Not Contact Your Accuser
No matter how tempted you may be to try to speak with your accuser, doing so is almost never a good idea. Why? Because any further contact is only going to be used against you, and if you were already arrested, Washington law holds that the accuser cannot drop the charge. Only the prosecuting agency can. Add to this that your contact with the accuser could violate a protection order or no contact order, landing you in even more hot water.
3. Preserve Evidence
Getting arrested and charged with a domestic violence-related crime turns your life into a chaotic whirlwind. But it’s important to take some time to preserve evidence as much as possible. Write down everything that happened leading up to your charge. Details that seem clear now are easy to forget weeks or months from now when you are in court. And if someone you know can provide testimony in your favor, tell your lawyer so they can interview them.
4. Build Your Defense
Talk to your attorney about which type of defense is most likely to lead to charges against you or your loved one being dismissed. Should you argue that your actions were self-defense? Could you show that the allegations against you are untrue? These are just a few examples of domestic violence defenses—your attorney can help you pick the right strategy for your unique case.
Can I Get a Domestic Violence Charge Dropped?
Getting your domestic violence charge “dropped” or dismissed is probably your number one goal. But how do you get there? And can you? Although it may not seem so, in many cases, it is possible. The most important thing to understand is that only the prosecutor can drop the charges against you. If you were arrested, the alleged victim can not drop the charges.
That means your attorney will have to put their expert legal knowledge to work when negotiating with the prosecutor.
Reasons a Prosecutor May Drop Domestic Violence Charges
Why would a prosecutor drop a domestic violence charge? Experienced attorneys who know how to get domestic violence charges dismissed in Washington State understand how prosecutors work and what can convince them to drop charges.
The following are a few examples of reasons a prosecutor might drop your domestic violence charge:
1. Lack of Willfulness
The fact that you allegedly harmed your accuser is not enough to put you behind bars. The prosecutor has to show that your actions were willful. For example, if you angrily slammed the door behind you during an argument but didn’t know your spouse was walking toward the door at that moment, did you willfully hurt your spouse? Absolutely not.
Your attorney may be able to make this case to the prosecutor to get your domestic violence charge dismissed. If the prosecution can’t show that your actions were willful, they likely can’t get a conviction. That means your case probably isn’t worth their time.
2. Insufficient Evidence
From day one, your lawyer will work to find holes in the evidence the prosecution has against you. The more evidence your legal team can find problems with, the less evidence will remain against you. And if your attorney can attack the evidence against you enough, the prosecutor may have doubts about their ability to get you convicted. That often leads to dropped charges.
3. Violation of Your Rights
Were you questioned further after you asked for a lawyer? Did the arresting officer fail to read you your Miranda rights? These and other violations of your rights can severely weaken the prosecution’s case against you — often to the point that they dismiss charges. Your lawyer can work to convince the prosecutor that they should drop your domestic violence charge if your rights were violated.
Speak with a Washington State Domestic Violence Lawyer
Reading about how to get domestic violence charges dismissed in Washington State is one thing. Actually getting your charges dropped is an entirely different matter. And it’s something an experienced attorney from Will & Will is equipped to handle.
With more than 35 years of combined experience, domestic violence lawyers Court and Michelle Will have what it takes to defend you. Michelle Will’s experience as a former prosecutor means she’s uniquely positioned to help.
For legal help from the team at Will & Will, contact us today. Call 206-209-5585 or contact us online.