Many people think that if you are in a domestic relationship, that you are not protected by the law. However, every person in a marriage is entitled to certain legal protections under the law. This includes all members of the wedding party, even the husband or wife. Unfortunately, not everyone knows how to go about using their rights under the law, and this can lead to serious consequences. If you have been accused of domestic violence, you should contact a Seattle domestic violence attorney as soon as possible.
There are a number of different situations that could lead to a charge of domestic violence in Washington. At times, a third party may hear or see something that they wrongly assume is domestic violence, and then calls the police, leading to an arrest and subsequent prosecution of an individual who, in actuality, didn’t commit a crime. In other cases, domestic violence takes place between people who are perfectly happy with their relationships and who are simply acting as a team. In these cases, the alleged perpetrator may actually be innocent, but he or she was acting in ways that violated the wishes of the other partner. In both cases, the best course of action is to contact a Seattle criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
When there are allegations of domestic violence in Seattle, the first thing that the victim needs to do is to notify the police. Under Washington state law, once the victim reports the incident to the police or a law enforcement agency, it is the victim’s responsibility to share the details of the alleged abuse. Even when the alleged perpetrator is ultimately cleared of wrongdoing, that doesn’t mean that the victim is safe from further consequences. Under Washington state law, the prosecutor must investigate the case and present it to the judge for determination. If the victim isn’t able to attend trial, the burden of proof is with the prosecutor, who is then required to prove that the defendant was aware of the allegations against him or her and did nothing to stop the alleged abuse.
If the prosecutor chooses to proceed with the case regardless of whether the charges have been reduced or dismissed, the alleged victim will be charged with a gross misdemeanor. This charge can be either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on what the prosecutor chooses to charge. If the misdemeanor is a sufficient portion of the initial arrest and booking process, the charges will be elevated and the accused could ultimately be charged with more serious offenses such as arson or aggravated assault.
When the matter is reviewed by the grand jury, the prosecutor is required to explain why the charges were filed against the individual. If he or she believes that there is probable cause to believe that the charges are justified, the grand jury will determine whether the charges are appropriate. From there, the attorney will need to wait to see whether the grand jury resutes the case to the misdemeanor level or moves to a felony. If the grand jury proceeds to press charges, the accused will be asked to enter a plea. If the accused decides not to enter a plea, the case will be continued by the court and the accused will be required to enter a plea. Again, if the case is moved to the misdemeanor level, the domestic violence attorney may be able to have the charges thrown out, at which point he will have the opportunity to mount a trial.
However, sometimes grand juries refuse to reschedule a trial after they find that there is insufficient evidence to proceed to a trial. In Washington, a defense attorney will not be allowed to make an argument against misdemeanor charges until all other options have been exhausted. If this happens, then the defense attorney may request that the felony charge be dismissed because it was not a reasonable apprehension. Even in cases where police arrive at the scene after a dispute and find no evidence of domestic abuse, a prosecutor may choose to proceed with a trial rather than accept the evidence as being insufficient for a misdemeanor charge. In these cases, the seattle domestic violence attorney will need to move quickly to get the case dismissed.