Statue of Justia with man charged with domestic violence in the background.

How Do You Get a Domestic Charge Dropped?

The laws in Washington State are unforgiving for domestic violence charges. A person can be arrested for domestic violence, even if the alleged victim does not wish to press charges. If you were arrested on domestic violence charges, your best choice is to contact experienced a Seattle domestic violence defense attorney to discuss defense strategies for domestic violence charges.

Mandatory Arrests for Domestic Violence

According to Washington domestic violence laws, an officer will arrest a person without a warrant if that person is 18 years of age, and the officer has probable cause to believe the person committed a domestic violence offense within the past four hours. State law also requires mandatory arrest when a person violates a civil protection order or no contact order.

In most cases, the person remains in jail until he or she appears before a judge. If a no contact order is not in place, the judge typically issues a no contact order as a condition of release.  This can mean, for a couple living together that the person charged must immediately find a new living situation. 

Even if an officer does not make an arrest, the police officer must complete a police report after responding to a domestic violence incident. The prosecutor may still file charges after reviewing the police report. 

Getting Domestic Violence Charges Dropped

Once you are charged with domestic violence, the charges will then only be dropped in response to a motion for dismissal or a prosecutor’s request for dismissal of the case. The judge presiding over the case reviews either your defense attorney’s motion or the prosecutor’s request and decides whether the case should be dismissed. 

Even if a witness changes his or her story or the victim does not want to pursue a domestic violence charge, the prosecutor or judge may determine that the case should proceed. Therefore, getting domestic violence charges dropped once they are filed is often very difficult. Your attorney must be able to show the court or the prosecutor that the evidence is not credible or sufficient for the prosecution to proceed or that a legal issue will prevent certain key evidence from being admissible. An experienced criminal defense attorney, who regularly represents people charged in these types of cases,  is critical in your fight to get domestic violence charges dropped.

Building a Defense Strategy for a Domestic Violence Case

Working with an attorney to develop one or more strategies for arguing in favor of dismissal of domestic violence charges is your first line of defense when charged with a crime. Your attorney analyzes the facts and circumstances surrounding your arrest and the charge to determine the best way to attack the state’s case against you.

Examples of defenses to domestic violence that might result in the charges being dropped include, but are not limited to:

  • The police officer did not have probable cause for the arrest;
  • Your legal rights were violated;
  • The victim’s story and injuries are inconsistent with the investigation and report;
  • You were defending yourself from attack or threat of harm; or,
  • The victim had a motive to fabricate the accusation and it can be demonstrated that the victim has made previous false allegations, lied about previous conduct by the person charged or is not telling the truth in the criminal case.

You can increase your chance of having domestic violence charges dropped by contacting an attorney immediately and BEFORE you make any statements to the police.  Be respectful to the police, but exercise your right to remain silent. Do not provide a statement to the police or answer questions without consulting an experienced domestic violence attorney.   Do not have any contact with the alleged victim or witnesses in the case. It is a crime to try to influence what witnesses in a criminal case will say about the accusation. Follow all orders of the court, including no contact orders.

Seattle Domestic Violence Defense Attorney

The consequences of a domestic violence conviction in Washington can be serious. You could face significant jail time, probation, no contact orders, loss of employment, revocation of firearms rights, loss of child custody, and an order to complete domestic violence or anger management treatment programs. 

Seattle domestic violence defense attorney Jennifer Horwitz understands the seriousness of the charges against you. She aggressively fights to protect your legal rights and will diligently investigate your case. Jennifer Horwitz will fight inside and outside of the courtroom to get you the best results possible in your case. Contact her today.


DISCLAIMER: This post is intended to share my perspective, insights and some general information on various aspects of domestic violence cases. It is not legal advice and is not intended to substitute for legal advice. You should consult an attorney to obtain legal advice for your individual situation and case.