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Court Analyzes Dating Relationships in Washington Domestic Violence Cases

On Behalf of | Jun 20, 2019 | Domestic Violence

It is well-established that to prove a person committed a crime, the State is required to produce evidence adequate to establish each element of the crime. A defendant can attack the State’s case, by arguing that the State has not met its burden regarding the sufficiency of the evidence. This was demonstrated in a recent Washington domestic violence case, in which the defendant argued that the State failed to offer sufficient evidence to prove he was in a “dating relationship” with his alleged victim. If you live in Washington and are charged with a domestic violence crime it is essential to retain a diligent Washington domestic violence defense attorney who will assert any available defenses on your behalf.

Factual Background

It is reported that the defendant and his alleged victim met through an online dating website and communicated for two weeks before deciding to meet. They met at a restaurant, where they ate and had drinks together. They then traveled to a second bar, where they had another drink, and stopped at the defendant’s house where the defendant introduced the victim to his mother. The couple then proceeded to a waterfront area, where they kissed and went to additional bars where they consumed alcohol, before returning to the defendant’s home. They had intercourse and then fell asleep.

It is alleged that the victim awoke to find the defendant urinating on the floor. The victim attempted to rouse the defendant, who became irritated and began punching and strangling the victim. The victim left the house and called the police, who took the victim to the hospital and arrested the defendant. The defendant was ultimately charged with assault in the second degree and felony harassment, both of which included domestic violence allegations. The defendant was convicted on both charges, after which he appealed.

Definition of a Dating Relationship

Domestic violence crimes are offenses that are committed by one family or household member against another. Assault is included in the list of crimes that may constitute domestic violence.  The definition of a family or household member includes people who are sixteen years of age or older who have or had a dating relationship.

On appeal, the defendant argued, in part, that the State failed to produce sufficient evidence to establish that his crimes constituted domestic violence. Specifically, he argued that he was not in a “dating relationship” with the victim. In analyzing the defendant’s argument, the court assessed what constitutes a dating relationship under Washington law. The court stated a dating relationship means a social relationship of a romantic nature. In evaluating whether a dating relationship existed, the fact finder must consider the nature and duration of the relationship between the defendant and the victim, and the frequency of their interaction. The court ultimately ruled that the evidence produced was sufficient to support the jury’s finding that the defendant was in a dating relationship with the victim. Thus, the court affirmed his conviction.

Discuss your Charges with a Trusted Washington Domestic Violence Defense Attorney

A conviction for a domestic violence crime can dramatically impair your rights. If you are a Washington resident facing domestic violence charges it is prudent to discuss the charges against you with a trusted Washington domestic violence defense attorney. The experienced domestic violence defense attorneys of the Law Offices of Smith & White will analyze the facts of your case to identify any available defenses and work tirelessly to help you seek a favorable outcome. We can be reached through our online form or at 253-363-8662 to set up a confidential and expert consultation to discuss your case.