Assault in the 4th Degree (Domestic Violence)
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence” 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. RCW 26.50.010(1)
Family or household members” means spouses, domestic partners, former spouses, former domestic partners, 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. RCW 26.50.010(2)
(3) “Dating relationship” means 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. RCW 26.50.010(3)
Why did the judge order me not to contact my spouse?
Washington State Domestic violence laws are essentially set up to protect the “victim” or complaining witness. The judge is authorized by statue to enter a no-contact order, mandate the defendant to appear for arraignment the day after arrest, prohibit the possession of firearms and basically set any other condition deemed necessary to protect the complaining witness.
What is the penalty if found guilty for Assault in the 4th Degree (Domestic Violence) in Washington?
Assault in the 4th Degree (Domestic Violence) is a Gross Misdemeanor: meaning the maximum penalties are one-year of jail and a $5,000 dollar fine.
What other consequences are caused by a conviction of Assault in the 4th Degree (Domestic Violence)
A guilty plea or a conviction can have several consequences besides or including jail and a fine:
- For non-citizens a conviction can lead to deportation or harm your chances of naturalization
- The prohibition of possessing firearms
- No contact orders
How can I avoid a Washington Domestic Violence conviction?
- Convince the government to dismiss or win at trial
- Stipulated Order of Continuance – Defendant and prosecution agree to certain terms of probation and if accepted by the Court and the terms and conditions are complied with prior to the expiration of probation, the case may be dismissed.
What should I do if I get arrested for Domestic Violence Charge?
- Did not try to contact the complaining witness. No: Text messages, emails, phone call, letters or even having a friend contact them. Those all can be considered violations of the no-contact order
- Do not return to the scene. If you must, have a police officer or sheriff escort you.
- Do not make statements to the police or prosecution
- Do contact to a lawyer ASAP
- Do take pictures of any injuries you may have suffered.
- Do take detailed notes of what happened that night.
What should I expect at a Domestic Violence Arraignment?
This is your first court appearance and basically starts the process. You will either be brought before the judge or if you have been released or bailed out your will show up in court at the designated time. You will be asked to enter a plea of Guilty or Not Guilty. If you have a lawyer he or she will do that for you. The judge likely will impose a no-contact order. If your lawyer is with you, it is possible he can stop this from occurring. The Court will consider your release and/or the conditions of release. The Court next will schedule a pretrial date. It is important to take note that a defendant must be present for the arraignment in a domestic violence case.