By now we are all familiar with what is considered domestic violence … domestic violence is defined as: (1) Physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault, between family or household members; (2) Sexual assault of one family or household member by another; or (3) Stalking of one family or household member by another family or household member. RCW §26.50.010. However, it is doubtful that folks are clear on the stages of a domestic violence case in our criminal court system. So without further ado, SQ Attorneys herein outlines the stages of a Domestic Violence Case:
Stage One – The reporting of some type of violence: Typically, the process of charging a person with domestic violence will begin when the alleged victim or a witness makes a 9-1-1 call to report a crime. When law enforcement arrives at the scene, they will question the parties separately and decide whether there is probable cause for an arrest.
State Two – The Arrest: If law enforcement determines that there is probable cause (which more often than not occurs), they will arrest the alleged offender and place him in jail, without bail, typically for 24-48 hours until he is able to appear before a judge. The law requires officers to arrest one of the parties if contact is made within four hours of the alleged incident.
Stage Three – The Release: If the prosecutor does not file charges, the alleged offender may be released but charges may be filed in the future. If charges are filed other conditions may include, but are not limited to, the imposition of a no contact order and bail. If the prosecutor files charges, then the alleged offender will enter his plea at an Arraignment Hearing.
Stage Four – The Pre-Trial Conference: A pre-trial conference will take place after the arraignment to allow the judge, the prosecutor, and the defense attorney to confer and evaluate the progress of the case. The case can, and often is, resolved at this stage. That said, the resolution typically involves some type of negotiated outcome.
Stage Five – The Motions: If at the pre-trial conference(s) the case cannot be resolved amicably, a motions hearing will take place to determine whether the facts and the evidence gathered are admissible at trial.
Stage Six – The Readiness Hearing: A readiness hearing will take place before trial to determine whether the parties are ready to move forward with an actual trial. All discovery and the disclosure of evidence should be completed by this stage.
Stage Seven – Trial: Assuming the case has not yet been resolved by this stage, the case will move forward to trial and a verdict will be rendered by a jury. Most cases do not go to trial and it is important to understand that the only person that is taking a risk by going to trial is the Defendant himself. Statistically speaking, more often than not the government, not the defendant, wins at trial; a good analogy to the win/loss ratio is to think of the government as a Casino in Vegas and the Defendant as the Gambler. Do most folks who play black jack in Vegas walk away from the table a winner? Of course not, if that were the case there would be no Vegas. That said, it is ‘possible’ to walk away a winner, and in fact people do walk away from the table ‘up’. So … like a Vegas gambler, it is possible for a defendant to ‘win’ a verdict of ‘not guilty’ in court, it just isn’t more likely than not to occur. And alas … this is why it is important to try and resolve the case short of a full blown trial.
If arrested for a domestic violence it is imperative that you immediately contact a Seattle domestic violence attorney to protect your rights and interests. Even the seemingly ‘silly’ case is now taken extremely seriously, and the government will proceed on the case, especially in light of the recent hype given to the issue. The Seattle domestic violence attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified and reputable Seattle domestic violence lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those arrested for crime all across Western Washington and the Greater Puget Sound region. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the criminal allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances of the given case. So, whether cited for assault, property destruction or some other domestic violence related crime, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys immediately.