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Washington Domestic Violence Law

Posted on January 29, 2019 in Uncategorized

Domestic Violence Charges in Washington

A charge of domestic violence can initiate not one, but a series of criminal prosecutions, setting actions in motion that can have very serious, long-term consequences. Washington state law provides for vigorous prosecution of anyone charged with the crime of domestic violence (DV). It is, in fact, one of the most zealously prosecuted crimes in the state. As in many criminal prosecutions, competent legal counsel is critical to assure that the person charged is provided an effective and timely defense that will generate the most successful resolution possible.

Washington state law defines DV as any crime committed against a family member, someone living in the same household, or against someone with whom you have or have had a dating relationship. While the majority of domestic violence cases involve couples who are in or have been in an intimate relationship, the scope of the law is not limited to that scenario. It can also apply to parent-child relationships, sibling relationships and various other established associations or domestic affiliations as defined in RCW 26.50.010 and RCW 10.99.020.

Washington state law, specifically RCW 26.50 and RCW 10.99, deals with domestic relations and defines the applicable relationships as well as the behavior considered to be in violation under the law. Harassment, intimidation, threatening, bodily injury or harm, physical or sexual assault, and stalking are just a few of the listed violations. Misdemeanor or felony charges can be filed as a result of any of these actions based on the circumstances and severity of the crime.

Once an arrest for DV has been made, the court will schedule an arraignment proceeding where formal charges will be filed by the prosecution and the defendant will be required to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Upon accepting the plea and assuming a not-guilty plea was entered, the judge will determine the conditions of release. Conditions could include participation in a treatment program, electronic home monitoring, or adherence to a no-contact order. The judge may issue a no-contact order at this time if there is not one already in place. A date is set for the pretrial hearing and the defendant may be released based on the judge’s conditions. If, on the other hand, a guilty plea is entered, the defendant may be remanded into custody until sentencing.

No-contact orders are issued by the court for the protection of the victim in a DV case. Adherence to the court order is absolutely essential, whether the victim deems it warranted or not. For example, when law enforcement responds to a DV incident and an arrest is made for criminal conduct, the court will determine whether a protection order is warranted. That order must be honored by both parties or a subsequent arrest and prosecution will be initiated for violation. The victim does not have the authority to reverse a no-contact order and must abide by the judge’s order or incur additional criminal prosecution.

At the pretrial hearing, the parties will review the charges and any progress in the case to determine its readiness for trial. At this point, the prosecution and defense have the opportunity to amend the charges or the plea, and the case will either be resolved or will proceed to trial. Motion hearings may be set before trial to hear various issues and then, barring settlement or pleading out to a lesser charge, the case will proceed to trial. At trial evidence will be submitted by both parties, and the judge or a jury will enter its judgment accordingly, either for conviction or acquittal.

The laws of the State of Washington are enacted to protect the victims of domestic violence. The court system works in concert with the district attorney to prosecute offenders to the full extent of the law and protect the victim. If you have been arrested for domestic violence, your first response must be to seek qualified legal counsel who can prepare an appropriate response to the charges filed against you. Procedural and legal responses will need to be presented to support your case and these require the experience and expertise of a professional with years of familiarity with the law. A criminal conviction is a lifelong issue and affect everything from your right to vote and be in possession of a firearm to your future freedom and the ability to work at the job of your choice. It is critical to consult an experienced Washington attorney if you face domestic violence charges. For more information about the legal implications of domestic violence charges, visit http://www.vancouverlaw.net

Things to Know About Domestic Violence Laws in the US

Posted on January 26, 2019 in Uncategorized

In every household there comes a time that an intense verbal argument occurs for a number of reasons: jealousy, financial problems, sibling rivalry, etc. However, sometimes people may physically assault a family member because they cannot control their anger, want to assert control or may have been verbally provoked. In so doing, the aggressor has committed Domestic Violence.

Whenever such serious matters occur, you may think of seeking outside help either by calling the police or by consulting an attorney. It is preferable to discuss the issue with an experienced legal professional first, since you may have trouble handling the legal ramifications that may ensue following the crime’s disclosure.

The aim of this article is to provide an overview of the most important legal aspects of Domestic Abuse, in a simplified and accessible way and to provide a starting point for more specialized study.

1. What is Domestic Violence?

Any person who physically abused a family or household member has committed the crime of Domestic Violence. Domestic assault is a distinctive and more serious case than Assault and Battery -which involves strangers- and is treated accordingly.

2. Domestic assault can be difficult to prove.

The easiest way to identify an abused victim is by looking for signs of assault on the body (scratches, bruises, etc.). In the absence of such evidence, eye witness’s testimonies are valuable, but are not always available. What adds complexity when evidence is inconclusive, is that it can be hard to prove the crime or ascertain who the instigator was (both parties can claim to have been abused or acting in self-defense and the aggressor could deny the charge).

3. The severity of the assault, the victim and the aggressor’s medical history and potential addictions are taken into account for the sentence.

Simply put, an aggressor who slapped his spouse will be punished more leniently, than one who punched and kicked her. If a child was abused the law is more severe. A person with addictions (a drug-user or an alcoholic), or mental disorders may also be required to undertake therapy.

4. If domestic abuse is reported, it can severely disrupt family relations.

Domestic assault is a serious criminal charge, which means that if the authorities find out about the crime, they are obligated to take legal action, whether the victim intents to or not. The state laws of Virginia dictate that the authorities can issue a no-contact (protective) order, effectively prohibiting any form of communication between the aggressor, the victim and the rest of the family.

5. First time offenders can have their case dismissed or may be judged more leniently.

The guilty party can have their sentence dismissed, if they have never committed a crime before. It is also possible that the state offers a plea bargain to the accused. If the abuser admits guilt before the case goes to court, the sentence can be more lenient.

6. The alleged abuser’s and the accuser’s personality and habits play an important role in court.

A person with a toxic and abusive personality, will have a harder time convincing the court about his innocence. On the other hand, the accuser may have an ulterior motive or may be a habitual liar. All of the above aspects come into play when the case is tried.

7. It’s advisable for both parties to avoid contact after the crime has been reported.

Whether you are the accuser or the perpetrator it is preferable to refrain from communicating between each other, as any form of contact could have a detrimental effect to your case, especially if a protective order is in effect.

Conclusion

Domestic Violence can be a complex and challenging crime to handle. Whether you decide to press charges against an abuser, or think you have been wrongfully accused, you should always consult with an experienced criminal law attorney.

Further reading

For more information on US Domestic Violence laws, visit the FindLaw site.

For an example of how States deal with Domestic Violence you can look at Code of Virginia ยง18.2-57 and the State’s Attorney General’s site.

Animal Abuse and Domestic Violence – A Correlated Generalized Deviance

Posted on January 23, 2019 in Uncategorized

I believe it is safe to say that a majority of defendants charged in our courts with animal abuse have prior domestic violence convictions as well. It is because of the “generalized deviance” that domestic violence and animal abuse are correlated. Anti-social behavior of different levels can happen in one individual but how that individual came to exercise the deviance is more complicated as there are many pathways that lead to it. An example of one of these exercises is the individuals use of violence or other anti-social manipulations to “solve” problems which is called “modeling” and explains why violence is often intergenerational. Although animal abuse and domestic violence are correlated, it varies as to which occurs first.

But are there any numbers we can connect here; any studies conducted to make this deviance a little more tangible? A study done in New Jersey found that in 88% of households where children were physically abused, there were records of animal abuse as well. In Wisconsin, four out of five battered women cases revealed the partner had been violent toward pets. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence conducted a study of abuse victims after arriving at domestic violence shelters and found that 85.4% of women and 63.0% of children reported incidents of pet abuse. The Chicago Police Department’s Domestic Violence Program compiled a history of arrestees for animal fighting/animal abuse for the period of 2000-2001 and found that approximately 30% had a conviction of domestic violence on their record. Animal abuse is often associated with other serious crimes such as drug offenses, gangs, weapons violence, sexual assault, and domestic violence and the individuals committing these acts of violence against animals are viewed as a danger to the public and therefore, must be addressed. The whole premise of an animal abuser is to demonstrate power. The abuser will batter an animal to hold control over his family, to isolate them and enforce submission. He will abuse a pet to perpetuate a fearful environment; to prevent a victim from leaving or coerce them to return. They will batter an animal to punish a victim for showing independence.

First responders and professionals who investigate abuse should be aware and trained to observe the cycle of violence. Some states practice this observance and take it a step further by implementing cross-reporting laws. When an animal control officer is called to investigate animal abuse in a home with children, they are mandated to report child abuse when animal abuse is confirmed. Children are generally more willing to discuss what happened to a pet than they are to their own victimization. In Ohio, any child under the age of 18 years of age who commits cruelty to a pet, is required to undergo psychological evaluation to determine individual or family counseling as necessary. The legislation also permit’s the court to include a protection order for any companion animal in the home of the person seeking a criminal protection order, domestic violence protection order, a civil stalking order, a sexual offense protection order, or the approval of a civil domestic violence consent agreement. Often a partner will abuse a pet that is in the home as a tactic to keep the victim under control. It is understood that many victims will not leave when it puts their pets in harm’s way. When questioning victims and their children, first responders should be alert for signs of child and/or pet victimization. They should ask if the abuser or anyone else threatened to harm their pet and ask if they need help finding a safe place for their pet to go if they leave. Many victims will not prosecute their abuser however, animal cruelty prosecution can result in incarceration or treatment that is equal to results from a domestic violence prosecution.

Domestic Violence Shelters, Animal Shelters, and Humane Organizations can do much to offer protection for animal victims. When working with abuse victims in their safety planning, be sure they include their pets. Question them about any threats or injuries to their pets. Work with legislators to include pets in orders of protection and educate judges on the necessities of these inclusions. Team up with your local animal control and humane organizations and local domestic violence shelters to establish emergency housing of pets coming from homes experiencing violence. If there is no space available, establish a network of homes that provide emergency care for these pets through foster care agencies then incorporate these connections in school programs where they might reach children who are at risk of family violence. Also, many YWCA’s have pet shelter programs that are in partnership with the humane society, local clinics, kennels, stables, and veterinarians.

Unfortunately, victims of domestic violence often choose to stay in abusive relationships to protect their pets. A study shows that 71% of women seeking “safe haven” in domestic violence shelters had companion animals threatened, hurt, or killed by their abuser. Many victims never even go to a shelter because of this fear for their pets. It is in recognition of this fact that many states have passed laws including pets in court-issued orders of protection and to include any animal that is harmed or threatened with harm in the state’s definition of “domestic violence.” Society doesn’t consider animal cruelty as severe as violence against humans but it is increasingly viewed as a serious issue by professionals in law enforcement and mental health. Effective prosecution of animal abuse can provide early and timely response to those who are, or who are at risk of becoming, a threat to the safety of others. It is a tool for protection for victims of family violence, developing new skills and understanding which will help build a truly compassionate society.

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