The term “domestic violence” is sometimes used as a synonym for assault or abuse. But it’s also a legal term, with a precise definition under Washington law.
The legal definition of domestic violence actually includes several different forms of conduct. What types of behavior are included?
In this post, we will inform you about how Washington law defines domestic violence. We will also take note of a recent proposal to require more supervision of people who are convicted of domestic violence.
Under the Revised Code of Washington (RCW 26.50.010), domestic violence between members of a household or family can involve three different types of behavior. These three types are:
• Assault – Assault, in this context, can involve actual bodily harm or injury. But it can also involve the infliction of fear of such harm.
• Sexual assault – Rape is no longer the operative term in Washington law for forcible sexual contact.
• Stalking – Stalking includes repeated harassment or following another person under certain circumstances. It is defined in detail in RCW 9A.46.110.
Of course, it is also necessary to define what “household or family” means for purposes of domestic violence law. Washington law contains a detailed definition that includes numerous types of relationships. It starts with current spouses or domestic partners. But it also includes former spouses or partners and people who have a child in common, and others.
The definition is a broad one. It can even apply to people over 16 who have or have had a dating relationship with the alleged victim.
Overall, then, domestic violence is a pretty broad term under Washington law.
Keep in mind, too, that domestic violence cases can have both civil and criminal components and various court orders can be issued. These include criminal no-contact orders and antiharassment orders. And in some cases, allegations of domestic violence can affect child custody decisions.
In short, domestic violence cases can be messy and complicated. There’s a lot at stake, from concern about the social stigma of the charge to possible jail time for a conviction. That’s why it’s important to have a skilled defense lawyer to help you respond effectively to a domestic violence charge.