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Factors influencing sentencing in domestic violence cases

When one is facing criminal charges, it's tough to know what to expect both in and out of the courtroom. In situations involving domestic violence, a defendant's entire life can be turned upside down following accusations of bodily injury. A Spokane criminal defense attorney can help a defendant know what to expect at every stage of the criminal justice process.

A skilled defense attorney will aid their client in obtaining the most favorable sentencing options if a conviction should occur. Of course, with the help of a legal professional a criminal charge doesn't have to become a criminal conviction. Still, if a case does get to that point, a lighter sentence is almost always preferable to some of Washington State's harsh penalties for convictions on domestic violence charges.

There are several different factors which influence how a judge might sentence an individual on a domestic violence charge in Washington. A judge in a domestic violence case is likely to look at both the victim's history of behavior toward the offender as well as the offender's history of behavior towards the victim. If the judge finds an ongoing pattern of abuse, coercion, control, physical or sexual abuse, that past history is likely to influence sentencing. Another factor the judge will probably review is whether or not the incidents took place in front of any minor children that the offender or victim has.

In a domestic violence case, if a conviction should occur on criminal charges the prosecutor must typically provide certain things for the court to review for sentencing. These include the defendant's history, if any, with protective orders, the defendant's existing criminal history and, if applicable, the defendant's criminal history in a tribal jurisdiction. Thus, a prior criminal record can greatly affect the outcome of a domestic violence case in Washington. Still, there are options for defendants facing accusations of domestic violence. An array of legal resources are available with the advice of an experienced attorney.

Source: Washington State Legislature, "Chapter 10.99 RCW: Domestic Violence: Official Response," accessed Oct. 30, 2015

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