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Defenses to Domestic Violence

Tacoma Attorneys Fighting for the Rights of People Facing Prosecution

In many domestic violence cases, people feel inclined to believe the accuser, and defendants often feel as if they have no hope of avoiding a conviction. As with most crimes, however, numerous defenses can be set forth in a domestic violence case that may help a defendant obtain a favorable result. If you are charged with a crime of domestic violence, it is essential to retain a seasoned Tacoma domestic violence lawyer to assess the circumstances surrounding your arrest and to determine which defenses to domestic violence you may be able to set forth. At Smith & White, our experienced domestic violence defense attorneys can work diligently to help you protect your rights and your reputation. We defend people charged with domestic violence in Tacoma and other cities in Pierce, King, Kitsap, and Thurston Counties.

What Constitutes Domestic Violence?

The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 10.99.020 describes domestic violence as a crime committed by one household or family member against another household or family member. Household and family members include spouses and former spouses, people who have a child together, people related by blood or marriage, and people over the age of 16 who were or are dating. While the statute sets forth numerous crimes that constitute domestic violence, such as assault, burglary, and stalking, the list is not exhaustive.

Domestic violence is not a separate crime with elements that the State must prove. Instead, a domestic violence charge merely alerts the court to the nature of the relationship between the alleged offender and the victim. It allows the court to impose additional penalties and restrictions on the defendant if appropriate.

Defenses to Domestic Violence

Under Washington law, there are numerous defenses that a defendant charged with a crime of domestic violence potentially can set forth. As with any crime, if a person is accused of a crime of domestic violence, the State must prove each element of the crime alleged beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction. For example, if a person is charged with reckless endangerment domestic violence, the State must prove that the person engaged in conduct that was reckless and that created a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury. If the State cannot meet its burden of proof, the defendant should be able to avoid a conviction. Similarly, if the police did not advise the defendant of his or her Miranda rights or made a warrantless arrest without a reasonable suspicion that a crime was being committed, the defendant may be able to preclude the State from admitting evidence gathered during or after the arrest, which may prevent the State from obtaining a conviction.

Individuals charged with a domestic violence crime sometimes can also set forth the defense that the allegations are false. False accusations can arise in domestic disputes in which the parties cannot agree as to child custody or support issues, or have a contentious divorce. Witness statements and inconsistencies in the accuser’s report and any police records can help prove that accusations of domestic violence are false.

RCW 9A.16.020 provides legal defenses to domestic violence crimes in certain contexts as well. For example, RCW 9A.16.020 permits a person to use force in self-defense whenever the person is about to be injured. RCW 9A.16.020 also allows a person to use force to prevent a malicious trespass or other malicious interference with property. Thus, if the defendant was in danger of harm at the time that the alleged domestic violence crime was committed, or if the defendant used force to protect his or her property, he or she may be able to argue that the use of force was lawful.

Meet With a Knowledgeable Domestic Violence Defense Attorney in Tacoma

Domestic violence charges should not be taken lightly, since a conviction can drastically harm your future. The skilled domestic violence defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Smith & White can assess the facts of your case and help you formulate persuasive arguments in an effort to obtain a successful outcome. Our primary office is located in Tacoma, and we are available by appointment at a second office in Vashon. We can be contacted at 253-203-1645 or through our online form to schedule a meeting regarding your case.

Client Reviews
I was represented by James White and have been nothing but satisfied with the outcome. Jame is very efficient and eliminates much of the stress that the judicial system can place on an offender. I am very grateful to have such a great attorney and owe him my gratitude for helping me when times were rough. Not only is he professional, but he is also someone you can talk to on a personal level. I highly recommend James White and would undoubtedly use him again in the future. If you are in search of an attorney, do yourself a favor and have the law offices of Smith & White represent you. Mike D.
I contacted James after my charge for reckless endangerment, and right from the start he was informative and reassuring. James worked hard to get me the best possible outcome, and was always very quick to return a call or text. He was straightforward and honest with me about my case, explaining both the good and the bad in a way that was reassuring without being misleading. Overall, I highly recommend Smith and White to anyone who is looking for the most professional representation in their legal matters. Matthew B.
Attorney James White was a beacon of hope for me at a time when my options appeared limited and the likeness of a satisfactory resolution seemed close to nothing. Not only was he able to defend me in a specific sticky situation in which I hired him for, I felt as though he also went above and beyond in efforts to provide me with the best outcome possible. His calm and professional demeanor offered such a great assurance to myself and those I care about around me. I am completely grateful for his service and I most definitely recommend Mr. White. Leyasha J.
Derek Smith guided us through a troubling legal situation with absolute professionalism. This was my first experience with a trial situation and Mr. Smith was able to address all of my questions and concerns in a way that helped address some of the fear I had regarding the legal system. Mr. Smith was highly effective during the trial and the result ended up in our favor. Legal troubles are scary and it was great knowing we had a fantastic legal team on our side to help navigate the somewhat confusing situation. My wife and I emphatically recommend this law firm. Steve B.
Mr. Smith was wonderful to work with. He was professional, knowledgeable and effective!! He takes the time to listen, which is amazing and can be a hard quality to find! He is informative and straight forward, which I truly appreciate! He was quite helpful on another matter that I asked his advise on. Thank you!!! Melika