Seattle Domestic Violence Attorneys
At Leyba Defense PLLC we have handled hundreds of domestic violence cases. If the police are contacted regarding a domestic dispute in Seattle. Whether a third party contacts the police or a phone call is made by one of the parties involved in the incident. The police will make a determination about what happened and in most cases, an arrest will occur. The most common allegations that result in an arrest for domestic violence involve an unwanted contact, property destruction, threatening harm, or violation of a no-contact order. If an arrest is made then the accused will be booked into jail and will not be released until they see a Judge.
What is Domestic Violence
An arrest and/or any subsequent criminal charges will fall under the category of domestic violence if the alleged victim and the accused are family members, in a current or former dating or marital relationship, or even roommates that live together. If the police determine the parties fall under the domestic violence category they have broad authority to arrest the individual they deem to be the aggressor. Often times this can be based on one person’s word against the other, or the statement of an unrelated third party.
Domestic Violence FAQ
What happens when the police are called? When the police are called regarding a domestic dispute they will usually contact the parties involved. This involves separating the individuals and questioning them about what happened. Sometimes these conversations are recorded and can try to be used later on during the criminal proceedings. If there are visible injuries, or property damage the police will take pictures and document their observations. Once the police have completed their inquiry they will make an arrest in most cases. Even if the party that called the police does not want the other party to get arrested it will not matter. In fact in most cases, the police will simply take the side of the party who called the police and arrest the other party.
What should I do if the police contact me? If the police arrive at an allegation of a domestic dispute and you’re deemed to be the accused then do not answer any questions and request to speak with an attorney. It’s that simple. Anything you say or do will be used against you. It is best to exercise your right to remain silent and request to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
What are common offenses that get charged as domestic violence? Any criminal offense can fall under the domestic violence category as long as the parties are related or have some other domestic relationship. The most common domestic criminal offenses are:
- Malicious Mischief or property destruction
- Telephone harassment
- Violation of a no-contact order
- Interfering with the reporting domestic violence
Will a no-contact order be imposed? If an individual gets arrested for domestic violence then they will be booked into jail and will not be released until they see a Judge. In most cases a condition of release will involve the imposition of a no-contact order. Even if there have never been any prior allegations of domestic violence a Judge will always err on the side of caution and impose a no-contact order. If a no-contact order gets imposed, a motion to modify or strike the no-contact order can be filed at a subsequent court date by a criminal defense attorney. The alleged victim will typically have to appear in Court and make that request in front of the Judge.
What if I live with the alleged victim? If a no-contact order gets imposed and the parties live together then all is not lost. First, it is important to have a criminal defense attorney present at the time the no-contact order is imposed. That attorney should argue for limited contact especially if the parties have children, share expenses, or need to communicate for any variety of reasons. Additionally, a request for a civil standby needs to be made so once the accused is released from custody he or she shall be able to go home and retrieve any personal items under the supervision of a police officer.
What are consequences as the result of an arrest for domestic violence? The consequences of an arrest for domestic violence can be quite severe. These can vary depending on the Court and whether the allegation results in a misdemeanor or a felony charge. But the most common consequences stemming from an arrest for a domestic violence offense will range from spending a night or two in jail, an imposition of a no-contact order, an order to not return home, the forfeiture of any firearms, possibly domestic violence treatment, bail, electronic home detention.
What if the alleged victim does not want the charge to be prosecuted? Unfortunately, this is a common misconception with domestic violence cases. Even if the alleged victim does not wish to have the charges filed or prosecuted it is only up to the Prosecutor to make that decision. A Prosecutor will always be taken into consideration the alleged victim’s wishes but ultimately that will not be the deciding factor. In my experience, a Prosecutor will look at several factors in deciding to dismiss a case. Obviously, the alleged victim’s wishes are one, but a Prosecutor will also consider any relevant criminal history, any proof problems with the case, any mitigating circumstances a criminal defense attorney can provide about their client.
Will I lose my firearm rights? Unfortunately, an arrest for a domestic violence offense will result in the immediate forfeiture of firearms at least while the criminal case is pending. Any plea deal will also usually consist of a no possession of firearms clause. A criminal conviction will also result in a loss of firearm rights and will only be restored after a certain period of time has elapsed and a motion to reinstate this privilege has been granted by the sentencing Court.
How can a criminal defense attorney help? Unfortunately, in domestic violence cases much of the information in a police report is based on inadmissible hearsay and biased statement from the accuser. There typically is not a witness that can corroborate what happened and the crux of the case is one person’s word against another. A thorough investigation in a domestic violence case can reveal two things in a criminal case. First, would be proof problems such as inconsistent witness statements, lack of physical injuries, a biased investigation by the police, prior false report claims by the alleged victim, or legal challenges to evidence the Prosecutor relies on. Second, would be the ability to put together a mitigation packet for the Prosecutor to try and negotiate the charge to be dismissed. This would include character letters, completion of counseling and/or anger management, and provide a background to the Prosecutor on who the client is as a person and how this has impacted their life. Due to the severe consequences a domestic violence conviction can have the ultimate goal in any domestic violence case is to have the charges dismissed.
What are possible outcomes for a domestic violence case? It depends. In my experience there are 3 acceptable outcomes in a domestic violence case. Obviously the best case scenario is a dismissal of the charges outright. The second best outcome would be something called a stipulated order of continuance agreement. This is a contract one would enter into with the Prosecutor’s office. If certain conditions are met then the case will be dismissed. There would be no guilty plea with this type of agreement. The third best outcome would be a deferred sentence. This also results in the case being dismissed if certain conditions are met, however unlike the stipulated order of continuance agreement a deferred sentence does require a guilty plea. If the conditions are met then the accused withdraws their guilty plea and the Prosecutor moves to dismiss the case.
If You’re in a Domestic Violence Situation, Leyba Defense Is Ready To Help
If you have been accused of a domestic violence offense it is imperative you contact a criminal defense attorney on your side as soon as possible. At Leyba Defense PLLC we have successfully defended over 1000 individuals accused of domestic violence allegations. We are available 24/7 and will provide the best possible defense in each and every case we defend.