Many Washingtonians think that they, as citizens, have an absolute right to press – or not – criminal charges against another person. Unfortunately, this simply is not the case. That said, it is true that a police officer who responds to a domestic violence related incident is, by law, required to complete a police incident report (this is so whether or not an arrest actually occurs), and if contact is made within four hours of the call – arrest someone. However, the prosecuting attorney – not the citizen/ aggrieved party nor law enforcement – decides whether or not to file criminal charges; this is the case regardless of what the alleged victim wants or even desires the same. If charges are filed, only the prosecutor has the authority to drop them. And to make things even more interesting, a judge must actually approve the prosecutor’s request to dismiss the case. Simply put – the alleged victim is simply a ‘witness’ for the government, and has zero authority to drop (or file) criminal charges. In fact, in many cases the prosecutor will continue to prosecute a case even if a victim refuses to testify.
This method of criminal prosecution can be taxing on families and loved ones, but is not going to change any time in the near future. The reality is, once the police are called there is a good chance criminal charges will follow. In a domestic violence situation, this draconian prosecutorial method can wreck havoc on a family because often the call was made simply to seek assistance in de-escalating a family squabble, not to instigate extended governmental involvement.
If you (or a loved one) find yourself facing a DV related criminal charge, it is infinitely important to immediately contact and hire a Seattle domestic violence attorney. 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 domestic violence related assault, malicious mischief, property destruction or some other crime, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys immediately at 206.441.0900.