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Coercion and Domestic Violence

Criminal Defense Attorneys Representing People in Tacoma and Beyond

It is not uncommon for arguments between estranged family members or romantic partners to become heated. During contentious arguments, a person may feel threatened or unduly pressured into doing something that he or she does not want to do or to abstain from taking an action that he or she intended to take. In such cases, the person allegedly making the threats may be charged with coercion. Coercion involves using force to cause a person to either take an action or refrain from acting, and it is a serious crime with significant penalties. If you are currently charged with the crime of domestic violence coercion, it is critical to engage a skilled criminal defense attorney to help you develop a strong defense. At The Law Offices of Smith & White, PLLC, our Tacoma domestic violence lawyers will work tirelessly to assist you in fighting to retain your rights. We represent individuals charged with domestic violence coercion in Tacoma and other cities in Pierce, King, Kitsap, and Thurston Counties.

Domestic Violence Coercion

Pursuant to RCW 26.50.010, three types of behavior constitute domestic violence. First, if a person assaults, physically harms, or causes bodily injury to a member of his or her family or household, or places a family or household member in fear of an assault or harm, it is considered domestic violence. Sexual assault and stalking are also deemed domestic violence when they are committed by one family or household member against another. A family or household member may be a current or former spouse, a co-parent, someone related by either blood or marriage, or someone in a romantic relationship.

In addition to the behaviors mentioned above, RCW 10.99.020 defines numerous crimes, including coercion, as acts of domestic violence if they are committed against a family or household member. Under RCW 9A.36.070, a person commits coercion by using threats to compel the alleged victim to do something that the victim is not legally required to do, or to refrain from actions that he or she is legally permitted to take. Threats in the context of coercion can mean communicating or implying an intent to use force against the person to cause harm or property damage. A threat can also mean expressing an intent to expose a secret or bring criminal charges against a person, or to take any other act with the intent to harm a person. As it pertains to domestic violence, coercion charges often result after a verbal argument in which one person angrily threatens to take legal action, or implies that he or she will harm another person.

If you face a charge of domestic violence coercion, a seasoned criminal defense attorney can help you understand your charge and formulate a defense to help you avoid a conviction. In Washington, coercion is a gross <misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. Additionally, people convicted of domestic violence crimes in Washington face a $100 penalty.

Domestic Violence Coercion Defenses

Coercion does not require any proof of physical harm. Instead, coercion is a crime that is based largely on the implications of communications between family or household members. Often, when a person is charged with coercion, the State’s case is based solely on circumstantial evidence. Thus, in many cases, a defendant can argue that the State cannot prove that any threats were made, and therefore, the State lacks sufficient grounds to obtain a conviction. You may also be able to argue that the allegations are false, and no coercion occurred. A proficient criminal defense attorney can evaluate your case to determine which defenses are available.

Consult a Seasoned Tacoma Attorney to Discuss Your Case

If you are charged with domestic violence coercion, it is vital to consult an attorney to discuss your case and the defenses that you can employ to help you retain your rights. The skilled domestic violence defense attorneys at The Law Offices of Smith & White, PLLC, can provide you with an aggressive defense. Our primary office is in Tacoma, and we are available by appointment at our second office in Vashon. You can contact us through our online form or at 253-363-8662 to schedule a confidential and expert meeting to discuss your case.