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Domestic Violence Not Involving Physical Violence

Tacoma Lawyers Helping Defendants Fight Felony and Misdemeanor Charges

Domestic violence is not always what you may view as “violent.” There is domestic violence that involves controlling behavior. There may be a pattern of one person in a family or household trying to control the others through intimidation, threats, or abuse. Sometimes domestic violence escalates after a series of nonviolent acts and turns into punching, kicking, slapping, shoving, or even rape. Sometimes it begins with a parent raising their fist or threatening to take the kids away from the other parent. If you are charged with domestic violence in a situation that does not involve physical violence, you should consult the Tacoma domestic violence lawyers at Smith & White. We are familiar with the nuances of these situations.

Domestic Violence not Involving Physical Violence

RCW 10.99.020 specifically identifies certain crimes that constitute domestic violence when the perpetrator and the victim are family or household members. Family or household members include spouses, former spouses, people with a child in common regardless of whether they have been married or have ever lived together, blood relatives, relatives by marriage, adults who are cohabiting or have cohabited in the past, people in dating relationships, people with a parent-child relationship, and co-parents.

Crimes enumerated under RCW 10.99.020 include assault in the first through fourth degrees, reckless endangerment, coercion, drive-by shootings, first-degree burglary, second-degree burglary, first-degree criminal trespass, second-degree criminal trespass, malicious mischief in the first through third degrees, first-degree kidnapping, second-degree kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, violations of a protection order, first- and second-degree rape, stalking, residential burglary, and interference with reporting domestic violence.

Most of the crimes enumerated in the statute are violent crimes. However, some are not, and you can be charged with domestic violence for those too. Generally, interference with reporting domestic violence does not need to be violent. Simply making threats could keep your ex-girlfriend from reporting you for stalking, and this could be charged as domestic violence. And stalking may not be violent. For example, you could be charged with domestic violence for following your ex-wife home from school every day because she finds it threatening and reports it. Similarly, malicious mischief involves the destruction of property but not necessarily physical injuries to the victim. You could be charged with domestic violence for breaking furniture because you were angry with your husband.

Moreover, the statute does not provide an exhaustive list. Domestic violence could even include petty theft if the perpetrator and the victim had a qualifying relationship. For example, if you stole your ex-wife’s jewelry, it is possible that you could be charged with domestic violence related to petty theft. Similarly, if you broke into your estranged spouse’s car, you might be charged with domestic violence. An attorney can advise you on whether you may face a domestic violence charge.


The penalties for domestic violence not involving violence depend on how it is charged. For example, you can be charged with a gross misdemeanor for third-degree malicious mischief, interfering with reporting a crime of domestic violence, or violating a protection order. If you are charged with a gross misdemeanor, you could face up to 364 days in jail and up to $5,000 in fines. Generally, for more serious domestic violence crimes, a felony will be charged. This can result in prison time as a penalty. In addition to prison time or fines, you may face other penalties.

When alcohol or drugs were involved in a violation of a protection order, you might be required to complete a chemical dependency evaluation. For example, if you drunkenly kept violating a protection order, the judge may not only sentence you to jail time and a fine but also mandate that you get an evaluation. In some cases, it is appropriate to get an evaluation to show the judge that you take what happened seriously.

Hire a Knowledgeable Domestic Violence Lawyer in the Tacoma Area

If you were charged with domestic violence that did not involve violence, you should still take the charges seriously and contact an experienced criminal attorney. Sometimes a protection order is put in place, and a violation of that protection order can result in further penalties. At Smith & White, we represent people in Tacoma and elsewhere in Pierce, King, Kitsap, and Thurston Counties. Call us at (253) 203-1645 or complete our online form.

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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