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A defendant's background affects domestic violence sentencing


From the beginning of one's experience with the criminal justice process, it can be difficult to fully comprehend all that's going on. Especially if one is dealing with charges of domestic violence, the combination of confusion and frustration can be completely overwhelming. It can be helpful to talk with one's criminal defense attorney about each step of the process before going to trial or considering plea negotiations.

If a person is convicted of a domestic violence crime in Washington State, he or she will likely face various sorts of penalties. An experienced domestic violence defense attorney may be able to explain these potential penalties and how best to avoid them. Sentencing is a critical point in the process because this is one of the times when the defendant can share his or her background with the court.

Factors that are taken into consideration by the court during sentencing include whether or not the defendant actually suffered abuse from the victim; for instance, if the defendant had long been controlled by the victim, or if there had been an ongoing pattern of abuse between the victim and the defendant. Such abuse can be physical, sexual or mental, or a combination of two or more types of abuse.

Another important factor taken into account during sentencing includes whether or not the offense took place in front of minor children, either the defendant's children or the victim's children. The court will also look to the defendant's past criminal history, if any, including a history occurring in another state or within a tribal jurisdiction.

A qualified criminal defender can explain all of the factors considered during sentencing and can also provide legal advice. A person who is suddenly facing domestic assault charges, spousal abuse charges or similar allegations can gain a better understanding of how their background fits into the rest of the criminal justice process by considering consulting with a trusted attorney.

Source: Washington State Legislature, "RCW 10.99.100," accessed Aug. 15, 2016

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