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In Washington Reported Domestic Violence Has an Attached Mandatory Arrest for the Police

On Behalf of | Feb 18, 2016 | Domestic Violence

There is a major difference in the arrest process of domestic violence crimes of which you should be aware.The difference is on the rules of making an arrest. Washington police officers have in the past been held civilly liable for not properly protecting a victim of domestic violence. This resulted in there now being a law of mandatory arrest in domestic violence cases. If the police are called in on a domestic violence call and if they have probable cause to believe that a domestic violence crime has been committed in the last four hours they will not risk being sued or, under the current law, break procedure – they have to arrest whoever they believe is the primary aggressor and someone will be going to jail.

The reasoning behind this ruling may seem logical but it has had unfortunate consequences. It has probably made domestic violence over enforced. The police no longer have the ability to use their discretion. Police are people too – they may not want to unnecessarily get people in trouble. As they deal with domestic violence situations regularly they May be able to tell right away if this is a perpetual violent situation or a squabble that simply needs to be broken up like a street fight. However they no longer are given that option. Keep this in mind if you are ever arrested on domestic violence charges. As arrest is mandatory there is no way to talk yourself out of it. So, do not talk to the police at all before you talk to your defense attorney.

In fact, you should try to reach your defense attorney right away, even before law enforcement arrives.  If you are not at the scene then they cannot arrest you.  However, flight can be proof of “consciousness of guilt” so you do not want to flee the scene.  This can be a difficult decision that depends on the specific facts of your situation therefore the advice of an attorney can be most useful in this situation.  After all, it would be easy to explain leaving the scene if you could explain that you did so on the advice of your attorney.

Of course, once police officers do make an arrest they need to make a report. Remember that the only judgment call they were allowed to make was who they believed was the primary aggressor and who was the victim – if you’ve been charged they made the decision that you were the aggressor and the other party was the victim. Remember what was said earlier about police being people. It’s human nature that when someone makes a public statement they will want to uphold and prove that statement. An arrest is a very public statement. It is unlikely that you will change their opinion and their report will likely be written in such a way as to bolster the decision that was made when you were arrested. If you were acting in self-defense or if you were actually the victim you will want to discuss what course of action to proceed with your defense attorney not the police.

Many if not most people are unaware of this legislation. It has happened that a spouse or other family/household member has called the police about a fight that’s going on. What they’re hoping for is that the police will come, calm the situation down, give a warning and leave. This is very important to know before you ever call the police with a domestic violence complaint.

There is also the flipside to this consequence. Some people are aware of this law and are upset with someone in their household. Perhaps they believe their partner is cheating, perhaps they believe their roommate is stealing from them but cannot prove it or perhaps something else is upsetting them. But the result is the same – they want revenge. It has been known to happen that false domestic violence complaints have been made so the person would be arrested – all with the motive of revenge. However, this fact is known by the courts and if this is your situation you will want to discuss this with your Pierce County / Tacoma defense attorney. It will quite possibly be very crucial to the investigation and then your defense strategy.

Washington takes domestic violence very seriously. That is why they gave the mandatory arrest legislation. But as you can see, there are defense options even With this rule in place.  You will want the compassionate and defense only a defense attorney can provide. You will get both when you hire from the law office of Smith & White, PLLC for your Pierce County / Tacoma domestic violence attorney. We will get you your best result possible. Call Smith & White, PLLC – the first consult is free.