A Look at Domestic Violence Cases in Washington State

If you drive about 300 miles east of Port Orchard, you will arrive in Spokane County. According to a recent news report, officials there are puzzled by a significant increase in the number of people asking for legal protection orders because of domestic violence.

Authorities say the number of people seeking legal protection orders has surged to more than 500 a month from an average of about 300 per month. About a year ago, the county launched a program to more rapidly send details of protection orders to the Spokane Police Department, which then passes the on to other police departments in the region.

It isn’t clear to officials there if the program is linked to the increase in protection orders.

Here in Washington, state law says that domestic violence is virtually any criminal act by a family/household member against another family or household member.

The five primary types of abusive behaviors:

  • Physical violence
  • Emotional abuse
  • Economic control
  • Neglect
  • Sexual assault

As a number of our readers know, we live in one of the states in which the law requires a cop who responds to a domestic violence call to make an arrest if the officer has probable cause to believe that either an assault or other serious domestic violence incident took place within the past four hours.

What if the officer believes household or family members have assaulted each other? The cop will arrest the person believed to be the primary aggressor.

It should be noted that Washington State law mandates officers to make arrests for any violations of Civil Protection Orders and No Contact Orders.

It should also be noted that a prosecutor is not required to drop charges just because someone has changed their mind about domestic violence allegations. While a prosecutor has the authority to drop the charges, a judge must approve that decision.

In some situations in which a person changes their mind, prosecutors might decide to press ahead with the case regardless.

Jeniece LaCross, Attorney At Law

Jeniece LaCross, Attorney At Law