Common Washington State Domestic Violence Laws & Penalties

washington state domestic violence laws
Domestic violence charges can be life-changing. Find out how domestic violence works in Washington state and the penalties associated with the crime.

Washington state law allows for the aggressive prosecution of domestic violence (DV) cases. The associated penalties of a domestic violence conviction, even at a misdemeanor level, are very serious and lead to lasting consequences for anyone convicted of the crime. 

Worst-case scenario, you may be charged with and convicted of serious/violent felonies that have lengthy sentences attached. If you or a family member has been accused of domestic violence, contact an experienced attorney right away.

Hiring just any attorney doesn’t cut it when so much is at stake. If you want to mount a robust and timely defense, you need an attorney you can rely on

Washington State Domestic Violence Laws

Under the Revised Code of Washington, Section 26.50.010, domestic violence is defined as any criminal act committed against a family member, household member, or intimate partner.

The most common offenses that can be labeled as domestic violence include:

  • Assault
  • Harassment
  • Telephone Harassment
  • Interference with domestic violence reporting
  • Malicious mischief
  • Stalking
  • Violation of a No Contact order
  • Rape
  • Unlawful imprisonment

When it comes to domestic violence, one of the most commonly asked questions is:

Is domestic violence a felony in Washington state?

The answer is that it depends on the underlying charge.  Adding an allegation of domestic violence does not, in and of itself, turn a misdemeanor into a felony.  For instance, if the underlying offense is a felony, such as assault in the first, second, or third degree, then it remains the same level of felony if it is also domestic violence.  Likewise, if an offense is a gross misdemeanor to begin with, such assault in the fourth degree, then it remains a gross misdemeanor. 

The Penalties of Domestic Violence Laws in Washington State

The penalties of domestic violence laws in Washington state vary greatly, depending on the class of your conviction. Misdemeanor domestic violence penalties for first time offenders can be relatively minor in terms of penalties imposed by the court are concerned, but felony domestic violence sentences can land the convicted in prison for years on end.

Gross Misdemeanor Domestic Violence

According to title 9A of the revised code of Washington, a gross misdemeanor domestic violence charge is punishable by up to a year in jail, or by a fine of no more than $5,000, or both the fine and jail time. 

Even though individuals rarely ever receive the maximum penalties for misdemeanors, having a domestic violence conviction on your record can cripple opportunities, like career prospects, later in life.  And that is not to even mention the profound and lasting impact a domestic violence conviction can have on your family.

Felony Domestic Violence

You can also be convicted of a felony for domestic violence. Your punishment will then depend on the Class (either A, B, or C) of your felony charge.

The revised code of Washington, section 9A.20.021’s felony punishments are as follows:

  • Class A:  Up to life imprisonment or a fine of $50,000, or both.
  • Class B: Up to ten years in state prison or a fine of $20,000, or both.
  • Class C: Up to five years in state prison or a fine of $10,000, or both.

Additionally, felons in the state of Washington lose significant constitutional and personal rights for a time like the ability to own or possess a firearm and the right to vote.

Despite the maximums listed above, actual sentences are dictated by Washington State’s Sentencing Guidelines.  Understanding and interpreting these guidelines accurately can be a daunting task, which is why it is best left to an experienced attorney.

Mounting a Legal Defense

There are a number of legal defenses for domestic violence. The right lawyers can make all the difference in getting the truth to come out. Some common legal defenses for domestic violence include:

  • The defendant was falsely accused by the alleged ‘victim’ with a provable motive.
  • It was an act of self-defense.
  • The case cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • There was a violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights by the police.
  • The police operated with bias against the accused.

The complexities of domestic violence laws in the state of Washington mean hiring the right attorney can greatly affect your case’s outcome.

If you or a family member have been accused of domestic violence, contact husband and wife criminal defense team Court and Michelle Will.   

Will & Will takes each case personally, understanding the impact that such an accusation has on your life and family.

Don’t take a chance on your future, call Will & Will at 206-209-5585 or fill out a contact form online.

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