The state of Washington has enacted domestic violence laws that protect the human rights of individuals suffering abuse at the hands of their partner, spouse or other relative. This abuse can occur in the form of physical, psychological or sexual actions. Harassment and stalking behaviors as well as the destruction of personal property also can fall under domestic violence laws.
People who are being abused are often fearful for their safety and the safety of other loved ones living in the household and may feel helpless and unable to protect themselves from the abuser. Talk to a domestic violence lawyer in Bellevue about the protections available to you.
What Constitutes Domestic Violence in Washington State?
Acts of domestic violence can be committed by current or former spouses, a live-in partner or former live-in partners, a person with whom you share a child, or even someone you are dating. Domestic violence laws can apply to individuals aged 16 and older. Domestic violence can be a criminal act that warrants criminal prosecution and includes the following actions:
- Reckless endangerment
- Criminal trespassing
- Property damage
- Stalking (including cyber-stalking)
- Violating an order of protection
- False imprisonment
- Murder or manslaughter
Domestic violence can be very serious, and many abusers threaten further or more serious abuse if the abused victim reports the activity to authorities, tries to leave or seeks help. Interfering with domestic violence laws is a crime and can be punishable by law. Victims should call law enforcement and can work with a Seattle domestic abuse attorney to exercise their rights.
Washington Laws that Help Domestic Violence Victims
Both the criminal and civil legal system in Washington offer protection against domestic violence. If you are a victim of abuse, you will need to get assistance from authorities, such as the police or the court system either to bring criminal charges against your abuser or seek civil protection. You also can work with a domestic violence lawyer in Seattle. Consider the following options when determining your best course of action.
- Protection orders: If you are fearful of harm or harassment from your spouse or partner, you can seek a protection order from the court. A protection order is a civil decree that requires a person to cease any form of contact with the holder of the order. When you file for a protection order, you will need to provide documentation to support your request. If the court receives appropriate documentation, a temporary order will be issued and served to the abuser by a sheriff. After a period of two weeks, a hearing will be scheduled to determine whether a final order will be enforced.
- Criminal charges: If you’ve been physically abused, injured, sexually assaulted, threatened with any type of weapon, or had your property damaged or stolen by your abuser, you can contact police to press criminal charges. You may have to testify in court to complete the charges, and a protective order can be issued to prevent your abuser from contacting or harming you while you await your court date.
- Federal mandates: According to federal law, if you have a protection order in place, it not only will apply to your safety in the state of Washington, but also will travel with you wherever you go. All states must enforce your protection order, and your abuser is not permitted to contact you in any part of the country.
Seattle Domestic Abuse Attorney Molly Kenny Can Help
Domestic violence affects families in every socioeconomic class, every age group, every race and every type of neighborhood. While this type of abuse often causes victims to feel helpless, shameful and afraid, there is help available from the authorities and domestic abuse lawyers in Bellevue.
At the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny, our team understands the volatile, emotional nature of domestic violence cases. A domestic violence lawyer in Bellevue can help you understand your rights, seek the help you need to get out of harm’s way and gain the protection you need to rebuild your life. We assist with divorce and domestic abuse cases. Call us today for discreet legal assistance at 425-460-0550.