Domestic Violence Involving Alcohol or Drug Use
Domestic violence occurs when there is a pattern of abusive conduct by an intimate partner or family member that is used to gain or keep control and power over another person within an intimate relationship or family. Abuse may take an emotional, psychological, physical, sexual, or financial form. Often, domestic violence involving alcohol or drug use escalates into particularly dangerous situations. When somebody is under the influence, that person is more likely to lose control of the inhibitions that ordinarily restrain them, and the abusive behavior may be more serious. If you are charged with domestic violence, you should contact the Tacoma domestic violence lawyers at Smith & White to understand your options and craft a strategy for your defense.Domestic Violence Involving Alcohol or Drug Use
Under Washington law, you can be charged with a domestic violence offense if you perpetrate a crime against a family or household member. Family or household members include people who are currently or previously have been married or living together, people currently or previously in a dating relationship, people who have a child together, and people with a parent-child relationship.
Crimes that may be charged as domestic violence, depending on the relationship of the perpetrator and the victim, include assault, aggravated assault, harassment, violations of protection orders, and malicious mischief. The precise circumstances will determine whether the charge is pursued as a misdemeanor or a felony. Felony domestic violence carries much harsher penalties, including a period of incarceration and hefty fines. Moreover, if you have a prior criminal offense on your record, you may face more serious penalties. Mandatory Arrest
If the police respond to an incident of domestic violence and have probable cause to believe that a domestic violence assault or another serious domestic violence incident has taken place within the last four hours, they are supposed to make a mandatory arrest. If one of the two parties to the domestic violence incident is drunk or high, they may make self-incriminating statements at the scene, giving the police officer probable cause to make a mandatory domestic violence arrest. If the officer thinks that the family and household members in question assaulted each other, the officer is supposed to arrest the person believed to be the main aggressor. A mandatory arrest is also required when someone violates a no contact or civil protection order, and these types of violations also may be results of alcohol or drug use.Domestic Violence Probation
When drugs or alcohol are involved in a domestic violence case, you may be required to undergo a chemical dependency evaluation before a sentence is imposed. Sometimes our attorneys encourage clients to get this evaluation on their own to show the judge that they have taken proper steps to avoid future incidents. When treatment is recommended by the evaluator, it is wise to complete it in order to show the court your level of seriousness and to allow the court to feel comfortable in giving you more lenient probation monitoring.
If you are found guilty or plead guilty, you will probably be put on supervised probation for two years. You also will be ordered to go through a domestic violence treatment program, and your compliance will be monitored by probation officers. Often, in cases of domestic violence involving alcohol or drug use, the defendant also must undergo alcohol or chemical dependency counseling as part of the sentence. Sometimes, battering treatment programs will not accept people who are currently abusing drugs or alcohol, which provides a further incentive to get help for the alcohol or drug abuse problem.
You will be monitored throughout your probation and will need to report each month until you have established compliance with treatment. If you fail to attend drug or alcohol abuse counseling and comply with other conditions of probation, your probation may be revoked.Hire an Experienced Tacoma Attorney to Protect Your Future
If you are charged with domestic violence in Washington, you should consult a criminal defense attorney at Smith & White. Based in the Tacoma area, we represent clients throughout Pierce, King, Kitsap, and Thurston Counties. Call us at (253) 203-1645 or contact us via our online form.