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Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence Attorneys

Domestic Violence is technically not a stand alone crime, it is a specific allegation or "tag" that is attached to a large number of crimes.

A "domestic violence" allegation/tag adds specific conditions of release, and consequences upon conviction.

Whether a crime is a domestic violence crime, depends upon whether you and the individuals involved are "Family of Household members" which is a term that is defined in RCW 10.99.020.

If a crime is classified as a domestic violence or "DV" crime, police officers, prosecutors, victim advocates and judges all treat these crimes differently. The reason these types of crimes are treated differently is due to the intent of the legislature in creating the DV classification for these crimes and the ultimate goal of protecting domestic violence victims, children, and society at large.

A conviction for a crime with the DV classification will not only put you in jeopardy of jail time and large fines, but could also result in restraining or protection orders, loss of gun rights (both state and federal), and a mandatory domestic violence evaluation, which, if you are classified a "batterer," then by law you must undergo 1 year of treatment.

The legislature has created a statutory scheme that puts an emphasis on bringing anyone deemed an "aggressor" before the court. This legislative scheme takes away some of the ability of police officers and prosecutors from using their discretion on a case by case basis. If police respond to a 911 call, or witness an altercation, and one person is deemed the aggressor, the police must arrest you. If arrested, the prosecution must charge you.

This statutory scheme was created with the best of intentions and was designed to protect victims of domestic violence who, because of their situation, often recanted or protected their abuser, resulting in the law and the courts being relatively powerless to break the cycle of abuse.

However, the broad language used also cast a wide net that can, and often does, snare individuals involved in situations that don't rise to a level that requires criminal charges and the involvement of the courts. These types of cases are always emotionally charged and can be extremely difficult and frustrating for the individuals involved. The automatic protection orders that are issued with these charges split families up, leave people homeless, and can have long lasting consequences on the defendant, the victim, and any children.

Due to this system and the nature of these types of charges, it is critical to hire a criminal defense attorney familiar with DV charges that will not only fight the criminal charge but also help guide you through the difficult maze that is the conditions of release, the protection orders, and any evaluations that may be required. We understand these are some of the most difficult charges to face and we act to try and give guidance and reduce your stress while dealing with this matter.


If you are currently charged with a crime with a domestic violence tag and need an experienced criminal defense lawyer that will fight for you please call us today at 253-383-3328.


What is Domestic Violence?

"Domestic Violence" is defined in RCW 26.50.010 and it means: 

(a) Physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault, between family or household members;

(b) sexual assault of one family or household member by another; or

(c) stalking as defined in RCW 9A.46.110 of one family or household member by another family or household member.

Who is a "Family or household member"?

RCW 10.99.020(3) defines who is classified as a "family or household member" in order to trigger the domestic violence tag:

  • "Family or household members" means spouses, former spouses, persons who have a child in common regardless of whether they have been married or have lived together at any time, adult persons related by blood or marriage, adult persons who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past, persons sixteen years of age or older who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past and who have or have had a dating relationship, persons sixteen years of age or older with whom a person sixteen years of age or older has or has had a dating relationship, and persons who have a biological or legal parent-child relationship, including stepparents and stepchildren and grandparents and grandchildren.

A "Dating Relationship is defined in RCW 26.50.010 as a social relationship of a romantic nature. Factors that the court may consider in making this determination include: (a) The length of time the relationship has existed; (b) the nature of the relationship; and (c) the frequency of interaction between the parties.

Please be aware of the change in law as of 2017: If you are charged with Assault in the fourth degree, and have prior criminal convictions for domestic violence offenses, you may be subject to the new law, which makes an Assault in the Fourth degree into a Class C felony if you have two or more prior DV convictions within the last 10 years, which fit the altered definition of "family or household member." See RCW 9A.36.041(4) or click here to read more about Assault charges. 

What crimes are included in "Domestic Violence"?

  • Assault in the first degree
    (RCW 9A.36.011)
  • Assault in the second degree
    (RCW 9A.36.021)
  • Assault in the third degree
    (RCW 9A.36.031)
  • Assault in the fourth degree
    (RCW 9A.36.041) 
    Assault in the fourth degree is generally the most common type of domestic violence charge. You can learn more about assault charges here.
  • Burglary in the first degree
    (RCW 9A.52.020)
  • Burglary in the second degree
    (RCW 9A.52.030)
  • Coercion 
    (RCW 9A.36.070)
  • Criminal trespass in the first degree (RCW 9A.52.070)
  • Criminal trespass in the second degree (RCW 9A.52.080)
  • Drive-by shooting
    (RCW 9A.36.045)
  • Interference with the reporting of domestic violence
    (RCW 9A.36.150)
  • Kidnapping in the first degree
    (RCW 9A.40.020)
  • Kidnapping in the second degree
    (RCW 9A.40.030)
  • Malicious mischief in the first degree
  • (RCW 9A.48.070)
  • Malicious mischief in the second degree
    (RCW 9A.48.080)
  • Malicious mischief in the third degree
    (RCW 9A.48.090)
    Learn more about Malicious mischief here.
  • Reckless endangerment 
    (RCW 9A.36.050)
  • Unlawful imprisonment
    (RCW 9A.40.040)
  • Violation of the provisions of a: restraining order, no-contact order, or protection order restraining or enjoining the person or restraining the person from going onto the grounds of or entering a residence, workplace, school, or day care, or prohibiting the person from knowingly coming within, or knowingly remaining within, a specified distance of a location 
    (RCW 10.99.04010.99.05026.09.30026.10.22026.26.13826.44.06326.44.15026.50.06026.50.07026.50.13026.52.070, or 74.34.145);
  • Rape in the first degree
    (RCW 9A.44.040)
  • Rape in the second degree
    (RCW 9A.44.050)
  • Residential Burglary
    (RCW 9A.52.025)
  • Stalking
    (RCW 9A.46.110)

If you are not sure whether you are being charged with a domestic violence offense or know that you are and wish to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney we offer free consultations so that you can make an educated decision who you should hire. If you or a loved one is facing a domestic violence criminal charge give us a call today at 253-383-3328

What Happens If I Am Convicted of a Domestic Violence offense?

With any criminal charge you are always at risk of serving jail or prison time, paying large fines, facing a lengthy probation term, and if the facts show alcohol or drugs were involved you may have to obtain a substance abuse evaluation and complete any treatment.

If you are convicted of a crime with the Domestic Violence tag, you will face additional penalties and consequences you would not face if convicted of the same crime without the Domestic Violence tag. Most notably, you will be required to undergo a domestic violence evaluation, and if you are deemed a "batterer" the law requires a one year treatment program. In addition, you will lose your right to possess firearms both state and federally and you will be unable to obtain a concealed carry permit or concealed pistol license.

It has been our experience that a conviction of a domestic violence crime will always impact a person in a number of ways outside of the court system as well. It can impact your ability to be hired for certain jobs, it can impact your accreditation for specific types of employment, it can make it difficult to be approved for rental housing, and a conviction for a domestic violence crime comes with a social stigma that can stay with a person for many years.

In addition, depending on the facts of the case and the ultimate outcome, the court may impose a protection order between you and the alleged victim. This can be very difficult to get removed, and thus, can have serious and long-term consequence that splits up families and can up-end a person's housing situation.  

Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney familiar with these types of cases is important if you want to put yourself in the best position possible to obtain a favorable result. Make sure you hire an attorney that you trust will work hard on your behalf and guide you through the process. 

This is why we here at South Sound Law Group offer free consultations on all domestic violence charges. Schedule your consultation today by calling 253-383.3328 or submitting a request on our contact us page here.

Contact Us

We are located next to the building that holds the Pierce County District Court, Pierce County Superior Court, and the Tacoma Municipal Court. We have free client parking in the alley located between South G St. and Yakima Ave. If you have any trouble finding our location or have a question about scheduling an appointment give us a call at 253-383-3328.

705 South 9th St
Ste 204

Tacoma, WA 98405
253-383-3328
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri: 08:30am - 05:00pm

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