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Domestic Violence Laws

Mandatory Arrest

Domestic violence is extremely serious. Washington State Law requires that the police officer called to the scene make an arrest if he has probable cause to believe that a domestic violence offense occurred within four hours prior to his being dispatched. If assault is involved, the officer will arrest only the person they believe to be the primary aggressor. If an individual has violated a no contact or civil protection order, the police officer is also required to arrest the individual.

If a person is arrested for domestic violence, he or she will usually be held in jail until they appear before a judge—usually within twenty-four hours of being arrested.

What are the Penalties for Domestic Violence?

The majority of domestic violence charges in the Tacoma, Lakewood, Olympia, Federal Way, Gig Harbor, Puyallup, Bellevue, and Seattle, WA areas are gross misdemeanors that are punishable by:

  • 0 to 364 days of jail time,
  • $5,000 fine,
  • Up to 5 years of active probation*.

A domestic violence conviction will make you ineligible to possess a firearm. Military soldiers or law enforcement officers convicted of domestic assault will most likely be terminated from their jobs. Several other professions will also terminate a person's employment upon learning of a domestic assault conviction.

Some domestic violence charges in the Tacoma, Lakewood, Olympia, Federal Way, Gig Harbor, Puyallup, Bellevue, and Seattle, WA areas are felonies and carry more severe sentences.

Assault in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree domestic violence, malicious mischief in the 1st or 2nd degree, felony harassment, and violation of a no contact order with an assault or two or more prior convictions are all felonies.

Felonies are categorized into class A, B or C felonies with class A felonies being the most serious and class C felonies being the least serious. Each class of felonies carries the following maximum penalties:

  • Class A Felonies: Up to life in prison and up to a $50,000 fine,
  • Class B Felonies: Up to 10 years in prison and up to a $20,000 fine,
  • Class C Felonies: Up to 5 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

These penalties can and do apply to those convicted of committing domestic violence felonies.

Individuals convicted of domestic violence offenses are typically placed on supervised probation for two years. Probation Counselors monitor the completion of court ordered treatment programs or counseling. Domestic violence probationers must report in-person each month until compliance with treatment is well established. The judge may also order domestic violence treatment, alcohol or drug counseling, parenting classes or sexual deviancy treatment.

Legal Representation in Washington State

If you or someone you know has been charged with domestic violence in Tacoma, Federal Way, Gig Harbor, Bremerton, Olympia, Seattle, or another city in Washington State, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. The defendant will need a knowledgeable and experienced attorney to effectively defend him or her. Domestic violence charges are serious and should not be taken lightly. Legal counsel will provide the best defense if you are charged with the crime of domestic violence.

Contact Stephen G. Johnson