Many people fear the moment when an argument gets out of control and their partner suddenly becomes violent. They might try to hurt you or use a weapon and the only way to stop them is to use self-defense. Even if you acted out of self-defense you can still get charged with domestic violence.
It seems unfair but it’s not uncommon to get charged with domestic violence for self-defense. Technically under Washington law you are allowed to use force to protect yourself, but only just enough that is necessary. If the officer did not witness the scene then that factor would be hard to determine. It is important to know your rights and what to do if you are arrested.
It is legal to protect yourself and your property
In cases where your partner or spouse threatens or hurts you, your family, or your property you are allowed to protect yourself. Under Washington law it is legal to use force to protect yourself in certain circumstances. You are allowed to use force when preventing malicious interference with your property. This means you could stop someone if they are damaging your property. You can also use force to stop someone whom you believe is trying to harm you. Either way you cannot use excessive force.
You are also allowed to defend yourself against a violent crime according to Washington State Legislature. It states that you should not be placed in legal jeopardy of any kind if you were protecting yourself with reasonable means. Although these laws do protect you they are all very circumstantial. Police can objectively read a scene but will likely arrest you if you have any violent charges on your record. It will also depend on the severity of the injuries from both parties. If you use excessive force to defend yourself then that is grounds for a domestic violence charge.
Here’s what you should do if charged with domestic violence
Domestic violence is often thought of as the same as assault or battery but domestic violence is a completely different charge in itself. Domestic violence is an act of violence in a household or between family members. The result of a domestic violence charge can have both civil and criminal consequences such as no-contact orders and jail time. Domestic violence charges can even impact child custody. Therefore the stakes are high if you are charged and go to court. Here’s what you can do if you are accused of domestic violence:
1. See a doctor right away: If you have been in a physical dispute seek medical attention right away. It is not only important to take care of any underlying injuries but also to document your injuries with a hospital. Documentation of your injuries will help show that you acted to defend yourself.
2. Be careful with what you say to police: It will be your first reaction to tell the police that you acted in self-defense but anything you will say in the moment can be used against you in court. Even stating that you used self-defense can be twisted as evidence that you used force, weakening your case. Keep your statement as short and simple as possible.
3. Talk with a lawyer: Make sure to speak with an experienced attorney right away if you have been charged. They can help you draft a statement and minimize your sentence. If the police mishandled the case then you could get even your charges dropped.