Arguments are a part of life. Whether a disagreement arises between neighbors, spouses, parents and their children, or siblings, most of these spats equate to an exchange of harsh words and nothing more. In some instances, though, arguments can become heated and turn physical in nature. When this happens, an individual may wind up being accused of committing a domestic violence crime. Washington residents who wind up facing these criminal charges need to be sure they know how to defend themselves, as the penalties for a domestic violence conviction can include jail and irreparable damage to one's reputation.
Under Washington law, domestic violence can occur one of four ways. First, domestic violence occurs when family or household members are physically injured by another family or household member. The second form of domestic violence occurs when fear of imminent assault or physical harm is instilled in a family or household member. Third, sexual assault by one family or household member against another is considered domestic violence. Fourth, stalking another family or household member can be deemed domestic violence.
Why is it important to understand the definition of domestic violence? Depending on the circumstances at hand, the definition itself may give rise to criminal defense options. For example, if a family or household member is unharmed in an altercation and they were never afraid of physical harm, then domestic violence has not occurred. Additionally, who qualifies as a household member may become an issue, although the statute does define this term, too.
There are, of course, more standard defenses to domestic violence, such as self-defense. But, the criminal defense approach taken by an accused individual will rely heavily upon the facts of the case. Therefore, those who want to know the best legal options available to them should consider consulting with a legal team that knows how prosecutors will try to prove domestic violence and how to attack their weaknesses.
Source: Washington State Legislature, "RCW 26.50.010," accessed on Apr. 7, 2017