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State law requires mandatory arrest for domestic violence

Most couples have their squabbles. You and your spouse may have had your fair share of disagreements over the years, but you typically are able to work them out in due time. However, if any of your arguments become heated, a misunderstanding could result in someone calling the police.

If someone hears shouting, thuds or glass breaking from inside your apartment or house, that person may think that a physical altercation is occurring. In some cases, this could prompt someone to call authorities and request that they look into an incident of possible domestic violence. What if this happens to you?

Unfavorable circumstances

Unfortunately, if someone calls the police during an argument with your spouse, the situation may not look good from an outside perspective. You may know that the matter was not getting out of hand, but authorities will certainly want to investigate further. If the circumstances seem unfavorable, such as evidence of an item being broken or your spouse showing signs of possible injury, officers may place you under arrest, even if those details are unrelated to the argument or alleged altercation.

Mandatory arrest

Under Washington state law, police officers are obligated to make a mandatory arrest if they believe that a domestic violence event took place within the four hours prior to their arrival at the scene. Even if authorities believe that both individuals involved physically attacked each other, officers will only take the person they consider the primary aggressor into custody. However, officers cannot make even a mandatory arrest without probable cause.

What charges could you face?

Allegations of domestic violence can either come as misdemeanor or felony charges. Either could lead to serious penalties in the event that a court convicts you of these charges. For a misdemeanor charge, you could face up to 90 days in jail and a fine of $1,000, and for a gross misdemeanor charge, jail time of up to 365 days and monetary penalties of $5,000 could apply. If you face a felony charge, you could spend more than one year behind bars.

Defend your innocence

As mentioned, unfavorable circumstances could make it appear that a physical altercation occurred when it possibly did not. The good intentions of an outside party may have landed you in a difficult predicament when that person called the police. No matter how the arrest occurs, you have the right to defend against allegations of domestic violence in efforts to maintain your innocence.

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