Domestic violence is a very serious crime and as such it comes with some very serious consequences. The crime of domestic violence comes with two waves of consequences, the first happens immediately upon the police first getting involved and the second occurs depending on the outcome of the charge.

To fully grasp what happens with a domestic violence criminal charge, and the possible consequences therein, we’ll take a look at what a domestic violence charge is, the different degrees of domestic violence charges and the full range of consequences that come from being arrested and charged with domestic violence.

What is a Domestic Violence Charge?

The term domestic violence, broadly speaking, covers a range of both felony and misdemeanor violence crimes committed against an intimate partner. The relationship between the victim and perpetrator can come in a few different flavors. Domestic violence covers violence committed against a current or former lover, the parent of a child in common or somebody cohabitating as an intimate partner.

As domestic violence covers a range of crimes, the severity of the consequences of a domestic violence charge will be determined by the severity of the crime itself. The term domestic violence helps to identify the crime being committed but it is also a descriptive way of boiling down the crime committed into its constituent parts (the victim and the aggressor and the relationship between them). To determine the consequences and potential penalties you could be facing for a domestic violence charge, you need to know what type of domestic violence charge you are facing.

What are the Types of Domestic Violence Charges?

There are three extremely common types of domestic violence charges and the severity of the domestic violence penalties a particular charge has will depend on which of the type you are facing. The types of domestic violence charges and their consequences are:

  • Misdemeanors: A misdemeanor is the least serious of the three types of domestic violence charges but domestic violence charges are rarely ever misdemeanors. Being convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence charge results in time spent in jail (not more than 90 days), a fine of $1000 or less, or a combination of both time behind bars and a fine.
  • Gross Misdemeanors: A gross misdemeanor charge is punishable of up to year, a fine of $5000 or less or a combination of both time behind bars and a fine. Gross Misdemeanors are more serious than a misdemeanor but not as serious as a felony.
  • Felonies: Most domestic violence charges are felonies, though a felony domestic violence charge might be dropped to a gross misdemeanor in some circumstances. Felonies are split up three ways.
  1.  Class C: The least of the felony crimes, Class C can still result in up to five years in jail, a fine of $10000 or less, or a combination of the two.
  2. Class B: A class B felony can result in up to ten years in jail,. a fine of $20000 or less, or a combination of the two.
  3. Class A: The worst of all the charges, a class A felony can lead to a sentence of life in prison, a fine for $50000 or less, or a combination of the two.

Domestic violence criminal charges in Seattle also include an additional fine of $100 or less, thanks to RCW 10.99.080, which is put towards a fund for survivors of domestic violence.

The type of domestic violence crime you are charged with will determine what the maximum prison time and fine that you will pay can be. However, there is a lot of variation from case to case because of the details of the crime itself, such as where it happened and if there was a criminal history of similar behavior in the past.

What Happens When You are Arrested for a Domestic Violence Crime?

Domestic violence as a crime requires a mandatory arrest of the individual causing the violence if the initial arrest is made within four hours of the domestic violence offense. In cases where assault is involved, only the perpetrator will be arrested. In most cases the assailant will be held in jail until the following day wherein they will be put before a judge where charges will be leveled.

Once arrested, a no contact order will be put in place to prevent the person charged from contacting the alleged victim. This is done in order to help protect the victim from further violence. If the no contact order is broken, there is a mandatory arrest law in place and so there would be a second arrest.

If the assailant attempted to prevent the victim from calling the police for help, getting medical assistance for their injuries or making a report of any kind to law enforcement then there will be an additional gross misdemeanor crime of interfering with reporting domestic violence applied.

When it comes to sentencing, the judge will make their final decision on the consequences of the domestic violence charge based on factors such as the level of coercion the victim caused, whether a child was present, if there was evidence of a pattern of abuse in the defendant’s history and both the personal and criminal history of the defendant. These will all be important in determining how severe the consequences of the domestic violence charge are, though they cannot be more severe than the maximum sentences for each of the categories of domestic violence charged discussed above.

What Should I Do If I’m Arrested for Domestic Violence?

If you have been arrested for domestic violence then it is important that you take a few steps. First, make sure that you do not break the no contact order. Doing so will only make defending yourself that much more difficult. Next, gather all the information that you can about your case and reach out to an experienced domestic violence attorney.

If you have been charged with domestic violence, you can and should call the Law Offices of Kevin Trombold at (206) 249-9656 to speak with a domestic violence attorney. The longer you wait, the less time there is to build a domestic violence defense. But the sooner you act, the sooner you can put this behind you.