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Strangulation and Domestic Violence

Criminal Attorneys Representing Defendants in Tacoma and the Surrounding Communities

Arguments between family members and romantic partners can escalate quickly, and a verbal disagreement can rapidly turn into a physical altercation. While any crime committed by one person against another person in a household or familial dispute is considered domestic violence, certain crimes, such as strangulation, are more frequently alleged than others following domestic disputes. If you are charged with strangulation and domestic violence, it is crucial to retain a seasoned Tacoma domestic violence attorney to assist you in developing an effective defense in hopes of maintaining your liberties. At Smith & White, we are mindful of how damaging a strangulation domestic violence conviction can be to every facet of a person's life, and we will work tirelessly to help you seek a successful outcome under the facts of your case. We regularly represent people charged with strangulation and domestic violence in Tacoma and other cities in Pierce, King, Kitsap, and Thurston Counties.

Strangulation and Domestic Violence

Washington law RCW 10.99.020 defines domestic violence as any of a number of enumerated crimes when committed by a person against a member of that person’s family or household. Family and household members include people in a dating relationship, people related by blood or marriage, spouses, and people who have a child together. Assault in the second degree is one of the enumerated crimes listed as crimes that are considered domestic violence when committed by a person against a member of his or her family or household.

Numerous acts fall under the definition of assault in the second degree, including strangulation. Specifically, under RCW 9A.36.021(1)(g), a person is guilty of assault in the second degree if that person assaults someone else by strangulation. RCW 9A.04.110(26) defines strangulation as the act of compressing a person’s neck to obstruct his or her blood flow or ability to breathe.

In the context of domestic violence, strangulation typically occurs when one person uses his or her hands to choke another person. The State does not need to prove injuries to convict a defendant of strangulation and domestic violence. An experienced criminal attorney can discuss the circumstances surrounding your arrest and the defenses that you may be able to assert.

Penalties for a Strangulation Conviction

Assault in the second degree in the form of strangulation is a class B felony, which is punishable by a sentence of up to 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $20,000. In cases in which a person is convicted of assault in the second degree by strangulation with sexual motivation, however, it is a class A felony, punishable by a sentence of up to life imprisonment and a fine of $50,000.

Defenses to Strangulation and Domestic Violence Charges

If you are charged with strangulation and domestic violence, there are several defenses that you may be able to raise to avoid a conviction. Unfortunately, many charges in which domestic violence is alleged arise out of false accusations. Thus, if you can discredit the accuser’s report of the alleged incident by providing witness testimony to refute the accuser’s account or pointing out inconsistencies in the accuser’s testimony and police records, you could avoid a conviction. You may also be able to argue that you were acting in self-defense at the time of the alleged crime. RCW 9A.16.020 specifically permits the use of force in certain circumstances, such as when a person is about to be injured and is acting in self-defense. A knowledgeable domestic violence defense attorney can analyze the facts of your case and consider whether other defenses may apply.

Consult a Seasoned Tacoma Attorney to Discuss Your Case

Strangulation is a severe charge that can lead to significant penalties. If you are charged with strangulation and domestic violence, you should consult a criminal defense attorney to discuss your case as soon as possible. The Law Offices of Smith & White can develop a vigorous defense on your behalf. We assist clients from our main office in Tacoma and our second office in Vashon. You can reach us at 253-203-1645 or through our online form to set up a consultation regarding your case.

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