Washington Domestic Violence Law

Domestic Violence Charges in Washington

A charge of domestic violence can initiate not one, but a series of criminal prosecutions, setting actions in motion that can have very serious, long-term consequences. Washington state law provides for vigorous prosecution of anyone charged with the crime of domestic violence (DV). It is, in fact, one of the most zealously prosecuted crimes in the state. As in many criminal prosecutions, competent legal counsel is critical to assure that the person charged is provided an effective and timely defense that will generate the most successful resolution possible.

Washington state law defines DV as any crime committed against a family member, someone living in the same household, or against someone with whom you have or have had a dating relationship. While the majority of domestic violence cases involve couples who are in or have been in an intimate relationship, the scope of the law is not limited to that scenario. It can also apply to parent-child relationships, sibling relationships and various other established associations or domestic affiliations as defined in RCW 26.50.010 and RCW 10.99.020.

Washington state law, specifically RCW 26.50 and RCW 10.99, deals with domestic relations and defines the applicable relationships as well as the behavior considered to be in violation under the law. Harassment, intimidation, threatening, bodily injury or harm, physical or sexual assault, and stalking are just a few of the listed violations. Misdemeanor or felony charges can be filed as a result of any of these actions based on the circumstances and severity of the crime.

Once an arrest for DV has been made, the court will schedule an arraignment proceeding where formal charges will be filed by the prosecution and the defendant will be required to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Upon accepting the plea and assuming a not-guilty plea was entered, the judge will determine the conditions of release. Conditions could include participation in a treatment program, electronic home monitoring, or adherence to a no-contact order. The judge may issue a no-contact order at this time if there is not one already in place. A date is set for the pretrial hearing and the defendant may be released based on the judge’s conditions. If, on the other hand, a guilty plea is entered, the defendant may be remanded into custody until sentencing.

No-contact orders are issued by the court for the protection of the victim in a DV case. Adherence to the court order is absolutely essential, whether the victim deems it warranted or not. For example, when law enforcement responds to a DV incident and an arrest is made for criminal conduct, the court will determine whether a protection order is warranted. That order must be honored by both parties or a subsequent arrest and prosecution will be initiated for violation. The victim does not have the authority to reverse a no-contact order and must abide by the judge’s order or incur additional criminal prosecution.

At the pretrial hearing, the parties will review the charges and any progress in the case to determine its readiness for trial. At this point, the prosecution and defense have the opportunity to amend the charges or the plea, and the case will either be resolved or will proceed to trial. Motion hearings may be set before trial to hear various issues and then, barring settlement or pleading out to a lesser charge, the case will proceed to trial. At trial evidence will be submitted by both parties, and the judge or a jury will enter its judgment accordingly, either for conviction or acquittal.

The laws of the State of Washington are enacted to protect the victims of domestic violence. The court system works in concert with the district attorney to prosecute offenders to the full extent of the law and protect the victim. If you have been arrested for domestic violence, your first response must be to seek qualified legal counsel who can prepare an appropriate response to the charges filed against you. Procedural and legal responses will need to be presented to support your case and these require the experience and expertise of a professional with years of familiarity with the law. A criminal conviction is a lifelong issue and affect everything from your right to vote and be in possession of a firearm to your future freedom and the ability to work at the job of your choice. It is critical to consult an experienced Washington attorney if you face domestic violence charges. For more information about the legal implications of domestic violence charges, visit http://www.vancouverlaw.net

Domestic Violence, Gender Discrimination

Personal Safety is a fundamental right of life – the right to live without fear of any harm or danger to you and your family, both immediate and extended. No one has the right to harm, abuse or threaten anyone else and a victim has the right to make a formal complaint and seek action against the offender.

“Domestic violence is any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (be it physical or emotional) between adults who are or have been in a relationship together, or between family members, regardless of gender or sexuality. The types of behavior frequently encountered in domestic violence are physical attacks, sexual attacks, psychological abuse, and the destruction of property or pets”.

Domestic Violence and abuse “consists of acts committed in the context of an adult intimate relationship. Domestic violence is purposeful and instrumental behavior directed at achieving compliance from, or control over the abused party”.

It is one of the most under-reported crimes worldwide and occurs across all strata of society. Although statistics and analytical figures point that domestic abuse consists mainly of violence by men against women, it is not restricted to these circumstances. In some cases men too are abused by their partners. However, it is shocking that globally domestic violence accounts for 16% of all violent crimes and 77% of victims are women. It is equally shocking to read that most victims have suffered repeated abuse and continue enduring physical violence for several years before they make a formal complaint. Unfortunately, in most cases, children are at the receiving end of abuse within homes. It is also equally relevant here to note that most women do not report violence or abuse for fear of harassment to their children.

Domestic violence in homes occurs if a spouse is being subjected to abuse by current or former spouse, parent or child. Even if a person is harassed, threatened, stalked, beaten, freedom of movement restrained, or property destroyed; then all these too constitute domestic violence. A victim of domestic violence does not have to be in a marital or other relationship.

Attitudes that are reflected by society contribute greatly to domestic violence. Long held notions that a wife is the “property of a husband and he can do what he likes to keep her in check” have been the cause for delayed action in cases involving domestic violence. Adding to this already aggravating situation is the view that ‘domestic violence’ does not strictly come under the purview of ‘police investigation’. Archaic laws like “the rule of thumb” existed till very recent times.

Till the 1970s, most cases involving domestic violence were settled by mediation by third parties without achieving any desired results. Police response to domestic violence has a pathetic record globally.

Family Law guidelines view such violations seriously and advise victims on the action they need to take and also on what will happen once their application is received. It has also enforced the ‘right of protection to women irrespective of status’ as a constitutional fundamental right.

Several legal cases in the US and Europe have highlighted the plight of victims of domestic violence as well as landmark judgements that have been pronounced. Today, many police agencies adopt mandatory arrest policies enforcing the view that society should view domestic violence as a criminal offence. Only strict action and stringent punishment can provide safety and solace to victims of domestic violence.

In India’s context, it is relevant to sit up and take notice of the increasing number of incidents that are classified as “honour killing” in recent times. Thanks to media exposure, more numbers of incidents are highlighted and the world at large is witness to some gruesome crimes, which are horrifying to say the least. How could family, kith & kin kill another member of the family brutally just to avenge ‘honour’ and ‘status’? What is this mindset? Even the most expert of psychologists may have to delve deep into their knowledge and expertise to come up with plausible explanations and reasoning. For the record, murders are committed of girls who elope with boyfriends; or marry a man of their choice, outside of their own community or caste, against the parents’ wishes; or decide to have a harmless cup of coffee or an ice cream with a classmate of the opposite gender.

Some of these violent crimes are aided and abetted by so-called communal and religious bodies, obviously with backing from some political party that they pledge allegiance to. One such agency took upon itself to “marry off” any two people of the opposite sex who were seen out in the open on Valentine’s Day. Utterly shameless and perverted thinking of the worst kind. Another local administrative body suggests that girls ‘must be’ married off at the age of 15 and boys at the age of 18 to prevent them going ‘astray’ and indulging in shameful activity. A minister went on national television to say that ‘governance cannot trample and set laws that oppose traditional beliefs and mindsets’. What a myopic and absolutely shameful viewpoint!!! Such negative trends will have far reaching consequences on a society’s growth and development. Elsewhere, governments are providing incentives to families to educate girl children because it is not believed without reason, that if you “educate and liberate a woman with knowledge and confidence, you are educating and liberating a family”. Females of any species have that innate ability to strive and overcome obstacles especially when it comes to protecting and providing for the wellbeing of their families. Perhaps nature’s design is not without purpose because every family, even in the poorest of villages across India, that has a literate girl child has seen innumerable benefits being absorbed into their lives in many ways.

Another obvious example of the success of women’s liberation is the micro financing schemes introduced in Third World economies which is ample proof of what women can achieve for themselves, and in turn their families, if they are given the right opportunities and assistance. This success has been a lifeline for millions of families around the globe transforming communities and towns into hives of action and sustenance fuelled by women, cutting across language, regional, religious and communal barriers.

There are huge implications from these positive results and vast lessons for the rest of the world to learn. Hopefully, now that the transformation has arrived, it will evolve to engulf the whole world.

And we may as yet live to see gender biases and discrimination a thing of the past. Long live women power!!

Domestic Violence is Unacceptable in the United States

There are many male dominated societies and cultures in the World, but in the United States we have chosen equal rights for both men and women. Thus, we have laws against domestic violence, which is a much fairer way to live. Still, other cultures think we are nuts for allowing women the same rights as men, they still believe that since men on average are stronger than women, it is only natural that they should dominate them and rule over the family unit. Indeed, this attitude is unfortunate and it is far too common in the world today.

We do see that domestic violence is more prevalent in the United States with those nationalities that come from predominantly male dominated societies. You can ask a police officer about the domestic calls they go on, and they will explain to you, the ethnic make-up of those generally involved and the high percentages. Today, in America we are told not to stereotype or to classify race, religion, nationality, but when it comes to domestic violence in the US, it is obvious from an observational standpoint.

Indeed, in this short article, I am not obligated to explain to you these facts or point our which nationalities have the most domestic violence cases. Suffice it to say that although domestic violence happens with all nationalities and races in the US, it is far greater with a certain few. It is probably not wise to sit around and judge various groups, but the data shows the reality. It is far better to do something about it, making it clear that it is unacceptable here in the US and work locally with community groups to put an end to it all. Think on this.

New York Domestic Violence Law: How to Get an Order of Protection in Family Court

Generally speaking, domestic violence refers to behavior that one person in an intimate relationship uses to control the other. Examples of such behavior include threats, name-calling, isolation, placing someone in fear of physical harm, stalking and sexual assault. The foregoing list of abusive behaviors is far from exhaustive. Each state has unique procedural and substantive rules to protect family members from domestic abuse.

New York’s substantive domestic violence law is set forth in various sections of the state’s Penal Law, Family Court Act, and Domestic Relations Law. These statutes provide several different procedural options for someone who needs to obtain judicial protection against an abusive family member. The broad and remedial purpose of the foregoing laws is to provide the maximum level of protection for victims of domestic violence. To further this goal, New York is a “mandatory arrest” jurisdiction. This means that the police are required to arrest suspects where there is “probable cause” to believe that the accused has committed, against a spouse, former spouse, family or household member, any felony, misdemeanor family offense, or violation of an order of protection requiring the defendant to stay away from the complainant.

Under New York’s Criminal Procedure Law, members of the same family or household (so as to fall under the protections of the family offense laws) include:

  1. persons related by consanguinity or affinity;
  2. persons legally married to one another;
  3. persons formerly married to one another regardless of whether they still reside in the same household;
  4. persons who have a child in common, regardless of whether such persons have been married or have lived together at any time; and
  5. persons who are not related by consanguinity or affinity and who are or have been in an intimate relationship regardless of whether such persons have lived together at any time.

In New York, domestic violence cases are most frequently brought in the Family Court under Article 8 of New York’s Family Court Act. Unlike criminal proceedings, Family Court Article 8 proceedings are generally intended to secure practical protections for victims (such as orders of protection directing offenders to stay away from victims), as opposed to criminal convictions. Court-ordered relief frequently includes orders requiring the offender to vacate a marital residence and cease contact with the petitioner. The Family Court may also order someone to participate in an educational program specifically tailored for perpetrators of domestic abuse.

To obtain an order of protection in New York Family Court, a petitioner must establish that a family offense has occurred. Family offenses include acts constituting disorderly conduct, harassment in the first degree, harassment in the second degree, aggravated harassment in the second degree, menacing in the second degree, menacing in the third degree, reckless endangerment, assault in the second degree, assault in the third degree, or an attempted assault between spouses and/or members of the same family or household. In the context of family offense proceedings, the definition of “disorderly conduct” is broader than in the criminal context, and may include conduct not in a public space. Under Penal Law 240.20, disorderly conduct includes conduct intended to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof. Examples of such conduct include tumultuous or threatening behavior, abusive or obscene language, unreasonable noise, or making an obscene gesture.

Generally, both the New York Supreme Court and the Family Court have jurisdiction to issue an Order of Protection. However, only the Supreme Court has jurisdiction to issue a divorce. Thus, individuals who do not have a marital relationship must seek judicial relief in either the Family Court or Criminal Court.

Occasionally, a spouse may bring an action seeking an Order of Protection in the Family Court, and then subsequently initiate divorce proceedings in the Supreme Court. In such instances, it may be appropriate to consolidate the existing actions. Section 240(3) of New York’s Domestic Relations Law (DRL) authorizes the Supreme Court to enter an order of protection in a matrimonial action.

Given the overlapping remedies and jurisdiction of New York’s Family and Supreme Courts, and the broad array of procedural options, selection of venue and other strategic decisions should be carefully considered and evaluated at the outset of order of protection proceedings with the advice and assistance of an experienced New York family law attorney. In addition to considerations regarding venue, a family law attorney will be able to guide the complainant about important issues regarding preservation of evidence. Frequently, proof of domestic violence hinges on preservation of key communications, such as text messages, voice mails, and emails. Ultimately, these communications will need to be introduced as evidence at trial. Giving careful consideration to strategic and evidentiary considerations at the earliest possible stage is crucial to obtaining a permanent order of protection against an abusive spouse or household member.

Restrictions of Domestic Violence Protective Orders

Domestic violence is an issue that plagues families throughout the country. It is not exclusive to people who are married or in relationships. If can affect all members of a family, including children. In Florida, domestic violence is considered any assault or battery that results in injury to a family member or another person living in the household.

The Sunshine State has several laws in place designed to shield and protect people from domestic violence. Although it cannot be stopped entirely, the goal is to decrease the number of families and people who are victim to the abuse. One possible way is through a domestic violence protective order.

Protective orders are designed to limit the interaction one person has with another, whether that is physical contact or any sort of interaction. The orders are supposed to keep people safe from another, but domestic violence protective orders can be complicated.

A person can file for a protective order if he or she has been the victim of domestic violence or if there is the fear he or she might become a victim. For instance, if a spouse says he or she will harm the other person or that person’s family, a protective order could be issued.

To obtain a protective order, a person first must petition to the court requesting the order be instated. The court will use several factors to determine whether the petitioner has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in danger, including the history between the two parties.

A court is likely to grant a protective order if there has been physical abuse, threats of abuse, threats of kidnapping or harming children, abuse or killing of a family pet or use of a weapon. Whether the respondent – the person the order is filed against -has stopped the other spouse from calling law enforcement also could be used as proof.

The domestic violence laws only apply if the respondent is the petitioner’s spouse, former spouse, related by blood or marriage, living with the petitioner now or has in the past lived as a family. The law also would apply if the person shares a child or children with the petitioner, whether or not they have been married or lived together.

In Florida, violating a protective order is a first-degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fee. A person can violate it in several different ways, including:

• Refusing to vacate the home, apartment or dwelling shared by both parties
• Being within 500 feet of the petitioner’s home, school, job, or any location specified as a place frequented by the petitioner, or a family member
• Committing an act of domestic violence against the petitioner
• Threatening by words or actions to harm the petitioner
• Intentionally communicating with the petitioner