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Domestic Violence Mandatory Arrests

Tacoma Lawyers Advocating for Defendants

It can be terrifying and humiliating to be arrested for the first time. When the police respond to an altercation between a husband and a wife or between other family members in a household, Washington law often requires them to arrest somebody. There are mandatory arrests for domestic violence in Washington when the police arrive within four hours of a 911 call, and there is probable cause to believe that there was domestic violence. To protect your rights in these situations, you should retain the Tacoma domestic violence attorneys at Smith & White.

Mandatory Arrests for Domestic Violence

If the police come to your home after someone has called 911 regarding domestic violence, or if there is probable cause to believe that you have perpetrated domestic violence, the police are required to arrest you under Washington law. Sometimes, but rarely, both of the people involved in the incident are arrested because both are considered aggressors. The police may make an arrest even if there are problems with evidence or because they are concerned about consequences if they do not.

However, this means that some people are arrested for domestic violence who do not deserve the arrest. Sometimes there is probable cause, but a prosecutor still may not be able to establish domestic violence beyond a reasonable doubt. If you are arrested, it is important to hire a skillful attorney who can raise a reasonable doubt or a substantive defense in defending you.

RCW 10.31.100 requires police officers to arrest without a warrant when they have probable cause to believe that someone has committed a felony. They can usually only arrest someone without a warrant for perpetrating a misdemeanor or a gross misdemeanor when the offense has been perpetrated in their presence. However, if an officer has probable cause to believe that you have perpetrated a misdemeanor or a gross misdemeanor that involves physical harm, threats to anyone or any property, marijuana, alcohol consumption by someone under age 21, or a criminal trespass, they are required to arrest you. The officer is also supposed to conduct a mandatory arrest without a warrant when there is a violation of a protection order under certain circumstances.

An arrest is also required if you are 18 or older, and in the last four hours you have assaulted a family or household member as prohibited under RCW 10.99.020, if the officer believes that there was a felonious assault that resulted in a bodily injury to a victim. This is true regardless of whether the officer can observe any sort of injury in situations in which you have taken a physical action intended to cause someone else physical pain, an imminent serious bodily injury, or death. A bodily injury can include a physical impairment, an illness, or physical pain.

Notably, the officer does not need to arrest both people even if they have probable cause to believe that household or family members have assaulted each other. Instead, the officer is supposed to arrest the person whom the officer believes is the primary physical aggressor. To make a determination about who is the primary physical aggressor, the officer is supposed to think about RCW 10.99.010’s intent to protect victims, the extent to which each person inflicted physical injuries on the other person, and any history of domestic violence of each of the people involved in the altercation, including whether the altercation is a segment of one person’s pattern of abuse.

Consult an Experienced Criminal Attorney in Tacoma

Often, the parties to a domestic violence altercation have very different stories about what happened. The person who has more serious injuries is more likely to be believed. Generally, if the police remember other altercations, they may be aware of any pattern of abuse that exists between partners or family or household members. If you have been subject to a mandatory arrest in connection with domestic violence, you should call Smith & White. Based in Tacoma, our attorneys represent people in Pierce, King, Kitsap, and Thurston Counties. Call us at (253) 203-1645 or complete our online form.

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