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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.

Strong 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, PLLC 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 253-363-8662 or through our online form to schedule a meeting regarding your case.