Interfering with Reporting of Domestic Violence in Seattle

Washington state recognizes that domestic violence is a common situation in many relationships and advances laws that favor victims of domestic violence. To help victims obtain the emergency services they may need after an incident of domestic violence, Washington law makes it a crime to interfere with the reporting of domestic violence to law enforcement or medical providers. If you are charged with a crime related to domestic violence, in many cases you may also be charged with interfering with reporting of domestic violence. 

Seattle criminal defense and family law attorney Jennifer Horwitz understands domestic disputes get complicated. That’s why she listens to every client with compassion and empathy. Jennifer approaches each case without judgment, which allows her to mount the best defense possible. If you are accused of interfering with the reporting of domestic violence or abuse, contact Jennifer to discuss your options.

Revised Code of Washington Section 9A.36.150

The Revised Code of Washington recognizes interfering with the reporting of domestic violence as a crime. A person interferes with the reporting of domestic violence if he or she:

  • Commits domestic violence; and 
  • Prevents or attempts to prevent the victim or a witness of domestic violence from calling 911, reporting the crime to law enforcement, or obtaining medical assistance.

Interfering with the reporting of domestic violence is categorized as a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

A criminal conviction for interfering with domestic violence reporting requires showing the accused committed an act of domestic violence that occurred before the alleged interference.

Domestic Violence 

Domestic violence encompasses harmful behaviors toward loved ones or those living in the same household. Domestic violence is defined as physical harm, bodily injury, assault, sexual assault, threats of any of these harms, or stalking of an intimate partner by another intimate partner or of a household member by another household member. Domestic violence itself is a crime, but the behaviors that constitute domestic violence, such as assault or battery are also crimes. 

Examples of Interference

Interference with the reporting of domestic violence can occur in many forms. A common example is taking a phone away or preventing a victim of domestic violence from accessing a phone. In other situations, a victim may allege the accused used intimidation tactics that prevent him or her from reporting injuries or cause him or her to recant allegations of domestic violence. 

Interference with reporting applies to witnesses to domestic violence as well as victims. This means preventing a witness to domestic violence from reporting the crime or obtaining medical aid is also a crime. This situation might arise when a good samaritan attempts to report acts of domestic violence occurring in public or a medical care provider attempts to discover the source of a victim’s injuries. 

Punishment 

Interfering with domestic violence is a gross misdemeanor and can result in jail time. But the more serious crime involved is allegations of domestic violence. Allegations of domestic violence trigger many consequences. 

Jail Time

Depending on the act of domestic violence, a conviction can result in jail time for the accused. The amount of jail time depends on whether the crime is classified as a gross misdemeanor or a felony. Less serious crimes, such as criminal trespass, are punishable by less than a year in prison while more serious crimes, such as kidnapping, are punishable by up to life in prison.

Orders for Protection

First, a victim of domestic violence may seek a domestic violence order for protection. An order for protection is a court order that limits contact between the victim and the alleged abuser. An order for protection can have severe consequences, like preventing where you can go or restricting you from owning firearms or weapons. As with a criminal case, if someone seeks an order of protection against you, you have the right to be heard in court and should appear to rebut any allegations against you. 

Consult with a Seattle Area Domestic Violence and Family Law Attorney 

If you are accused of an act of domestic violence and interfering with the reporting of domestic violence, you need sound legal guidance to protect your rights. Seattle attorney Jennifer Horwitz has over 25 years of experience representing clients on both sides of domestic issues and will listen to you without judgment. Jennifer’s years of experience allow her to formulate the best defense against any charges and offer you the advice you need. Contact Jennifer Horwitz Law to discuss your case today.