Domestic violence charges are taken very seriously in Washington State and the penalties are often severe. From steep fines to extensive sentences, domestic violence penalties can follow you for many years to come.

This is why such charges should never be handled carelessly. If you are facing domestic violence allegations, it’s important to find a criminal defense attorney with experience in these cases.

What Qualifies As Domestic Violence In Washington State?

According to its legal definition in Washington State, domestic violence is any criminal act committed against a family or household member.

Offenses that can qualify as domestic violence include the following:

Is Domestic Violence Considered A Misdemeanor Or A Felony In Washington?

Depending on the severity of the offense, domestic violence charges in the State of Washington can fall into one of three categories: misdemeanors, gross misdemeanors, and felonies.

Domestic Violence Misdemeanors

In terms of seriousness, misdemeanors are the least severe kinds of domestic violence crimes. If you are charged with a misdemeanor, then you can be punished with a fine of up to $1,000, up to 90 days in jail, or even both. Malicious mischief in the 3rd degree with a domestic violence allegation is the most common of the domestic violence misdemeanors. Malicious mischief in the 3rd-degree charges usually come about from an allegation of slashed tires, broken window, or a destroyed cell phone.

Domestic Violence Gross Misdemeanors

A gross misdemeanor is a crime that is more severe than a misdemeanor but isn’t serious enough to qualify for a felony.

Since gross misdemeanors are more damaging crimes than misdemeanors, the penalties are likewise scaled to match. If you are charged with a gross misdemeanor, then you are facing fines of up to $5,000, jail time up to 364 days, or possibly a combination of both.

Examples of gross misdemeanors include:

Domestic Violence Felonies

Felonies are the most serious kinds of crimes and consequently receive the most severe kinds of penalties. A domestic violence charge qualifies as a felony when it includes:

The three types of felonies resulting from a domestic violence situation are a Class A felony, Class B felony, or Class C felony.

Washington State Penalties For Domestic Violence Assault

Assault offenses are measured on a scale ranging from first degree to fourth degree. First degree offenses are the most severe and accordingly have the most severe penalties.

If you have been charged with domestic violence or assault it is important to seek legal help and counsel immediately. Having a reliable domestic violence attorney on your case will make a world of difference when your trial arrives.

Assault in the First Degree

First-degree assault offenses include assaults where a deadly weapon is used with the intent to cause harm. Or any alleged assault that is responsible for causing great bodily harm or intended to cause great harm.

Domestic violence charges are pursued as Class A felonies and can land aggressors up to life in prison and/or a monetary fine of up to $50,000.

Second & Third Degree Assault

Second and third-degree offenses are considered Class B or C felonies.

These are intentional acts of harm or assault. Class B or C felonies are punishable by between 5 and 10 years in jail or $10,000 to $20,000 in fines.

Assault in the Fourth Degree

A fourth-degree assault charge is a gross misdemeanor in Washington State and is punishable by up to a year in county jail and/or a $5,000 fine.

What To Expect If A Domestic Violence Charge Has Been Brought Against You

You can expect that the legal process following a domestic violence charge will be lengthy and difficult.

Domestic violence charges are serious matters — regardless of the severity of the alleged crime, it’s vital to have a good defense attorney who has experience in domestic violence cases.

Neglecting to seek professional representation in court will put you at a disadvantage. It is critical that you seek out an attorney as soon as accusations are made. The legal road following domestic violence charges is not an easy one, but having legal representation will make a world of difference in your case.

Defending Against A Domestic Violence Charge In Washington

If you are facing domestic violence charges, don’t wait — find a criminal defense attorney who has experience in domestic violence cases immediately. To protect your future and your name, you need a seasoned domestic violence attorney representing you in court.

Morgan Fletcher Benfield is a criminal defense attorney representing those facing domestic violence charges in Tacoma and the Greater Seattle Area. He understands the impact that criminal charges have on an individual’s life and works hard to build his clients a good defense.

Contact The Law Offices of Morgan Fletcher Benfield, PLLC today to schedule your free consultation.