Domestic Violence in WA

Vancouver, WA Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys

Aggressive advocacy for Washington clients charged with domestic assault

When there is a call to the police that there is a suspicion of domestic violence, there will often be an arrest. Police normally just want to defuse the conflict as soon as possible which means it’s easier to separate the couple or partners and let the courts sort everything out. An arrest can mean time in jail. A conviction for domestic violence can mean a criminal record which can affect your employment, your ability to find a place to live, and your reputation.

At Philbrook Law Office, PS, our Vancouver criminal defense lawyers review your case, explain your options, and fight to obtain dismissals or resolutions. We explain the Washington domestic violence laws and assert all your defense rights. We work to minimize any no-contact or other restrictions that might be imposed. Call us today to get started.

What is domestic violence?

Under RCW 10.99.020, “domestic violence includes but is not limited to any of the following crimes when committed either by:

  • One family or household member against another family or household member, or
  • One intimate partner against another intimate partner
  • Covered crimes include most acts of violence, stalking, coercion, interfering with the reporting of domestic violence, criminal trespass in the 1st or 2nd degree, and other listed crimes”

Violation of the provisions of a restraining order, no-contact order, and other orders are also considered domestic violence.

RCW 10.99.020(3) defines family and household members as:

  • Spouses and former spouses
  • Parents of the same child
  • Adults related by blood or who are currently living together
  • People 16 years of age or older in a dating relationship
  • Other relationships such as stepparents and grandparents


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What to expect when you meet with a Vancouver domestic violence defense lawyer

Most domestic violence cases revolve around the testimony of the victim and the defendant. It’s important to be clear on your version of what happened. We review the facts and the classic “your word/their word” scenario, asking questions like:

  • Is there any medical evidence, such as visits to an emergency room or evidence of injury?
  • Were there any witnesses to the event?
  • How did the alleged dispute start?
  • Why were the police called?
  • Did the children observe the incident?
  • Was there any damage to property?
  • Have there been past incidents?
  • Do you or the others have a criminal record?
  • How long have you lived together?
  • Has either person sought any counseling or professional help?
  • Is there any history of substance abuse?

We review all written statements by all parties, as well as any alleged video evidence.

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What happens if I get accused of domestic violence?

Washington State has a mandatory arrest statute, designed to protect victims of domestic violence. The problem is that almost anything can be deemed “probable cause,” and that can sweep up innocent victims as well. The process typically goes like this:

  • The arrest. Most cases begin with an arrest by the police if the officer is called to the home or the site of dispute reasonably believes that domestic violence has occurred.
  • Jail time. Once arrested, the defendant will be confined to jail, without bail, until there is a hearing/judicial appearance The initial hearing is usually within a day or two.
  • Appearance before the judge. A hearing judge will make an initial evaluation of the case to determine if there should be any protective orders and conditions for release.
    • A common condition is the imposition of a no-contact order until the case is resolved. Pretrial probation may be ordered.
    • The prosecution could decide not to file charges. In this case, you should be released with the understanding charges could be filed at a later time.
  • An arraignment. If charges are filed, the defendant will normally enter a not-guilty plea. Often the arraignment is held at the initial appearance.
  • A pretrial conference. This is where your lawyer and the prosecution discuss whether any settlement/plea bargain is possible.

If a settlement can’t be reached, then after any motions are heard, the case is set for a trial date.

Defendants should understand that in most domestic violence cases, a domestic advocate will be appointed to represent the alleged victim. Alternatively, a victim can hire a private lawyer to represent her/his interests.

What is a No Contact Order?

A No Contact Order (NCO) is a ruling that the defendant can’t see his/her family, children, and even friends. It can limit where the defendant can travel. If can mean the defendant can’t return to the home. The No Contact Order can deprive the defendant of his/her possessions. It can often affect the defendant’s employment and attendance in a school.

An NCO can be entered even when the alleged victim objects to the NCO. The imposition of an NCO is often the most litigated part of any domestic violence case. There can be severe consequences for violating a No Contact Order.

What is a Civil Standby Order?

This is an order which essentially allows the defendant to access the home to receive some of his/her personal belongings. The access is monitored by local law enforcement. The alleged victim can be present to monitor which items are taken.

What are the possible outcomes of a domestic violence case?

If a settlement isn’t reached, then the possible outcomes are:

  • A dismissal with prejudice of the underlying criminal charges which led to the domestic violence arrest. A dismissal with prejudice means the case can’t be tried again. This type of dismissal is based on a not-guilty verdict, or because the government withdraws the charges.
  • A dismissal without prejudice. Here the charges are dropped but they can be filed again at a later date.
  • Changing the charges so that the criminal case proceeds – but the “domestic violence” designation is dropped.
  • A stipulated order of continuance. This is an agreement to place the charges on hold while the defendant complies with preset conditions such as participation in a domestic violence treatment program. For more information, please see the section below.
  • A finding of guilt. The defendant is found guilty and faces the consequences for a guilty plea or guilty verdict.

Understand that even if you are found “not guilty,” the collateral damage of a domestic violence accusation may be severe. Call us in Vancouver as soon as you can so we can get started on your case.

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What is a Stipulated Order of Continuance (SOC)?

An SOC is essentially an agreement that the government won’t prosecute the case if the defendant works to address the reasons for the domestic violence. The defendant agrees to numerous conditions. If the defendant meets the conditions, the charges are dropped. If the conditions aren’t met, the domestic violence charges will proceed to a trial.

Common conditions include completion of the following:

  • A domestic violence treatment program such as a “batterer’s treatment program”
  • An alcohol or substance abuse treatment program
  • Entry of a No Contact Order. We fight to exclude this condition – if possible.
  • This is just a way of reviewing compliance with the other conditions.

Some of the conditions can be negotiated. Other conditions are mandatory.

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Contact Philbrook Law Office if you are charged with domestic abuse in Washington or Oregon

Domestic violence charges must be taken seriously. A conviction for any assault can stay on your record permanently. At Philbrook Law Office, we work to obtain dismissals and to craft solutions that help focus on addressing the reasons for the conflict instead of punishment. To discuss your case with an experienced Washington domestic abuse lawyer, at one of our offices in Vancouver or Battle Ground, WA, please call 360-695-3309 or fill out our contact form. We represent clients in the greater Portland area, and throughout Oregon and Washington.

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