A Criminal Defense Attorney’s | Lawyer’s Perspective on Isolated Incidents of Domestic Violence vs. A Pattern of Conduct
In criminal law cases labeled domestic violence, it is important that your criminal defense attorney or lawyer be able to distinguish familial violence that is part of a larger pattern of conduct designed to establish power and control over a partner vs. an isolated incident of violence driven by other factor(s). We find clients who understand why the laws surrounding domestic violence distinguish between these two categories are better able to understand, and react accordingly, to how their behavior and cases will be viewed by State agencies, prosecuting attorneys, judges and assessment professionals.
There was a time in Washington where violence by a man on a women who lived together or shared children was ignored or accepted by the legal system. Though the stories and impact of this behavior was known, it was not till the after the 1960s, the woman’s liberation movement and public acceptance of psychology as more than a quack science that these problems were studied and quantified. Over the course of the next 30 plus years, ideas and programs on how to handle the problems of relationship violence were offered and adopted by the legislature, police, prosecuting attorney offices, judges and other state agencies. Much of these ideas and programs focused on power and control dynamics and utilized the Duluth Model for treatment.
As a result of these studies and programs, Washington law adopted a series of comprehensive legal reforms that focused on identifying perpetrators of domestic violence, identifying victims of domestic violence and providing protection and a way out for these victims and their families. This adoption has worked its way throughout the system on all levels of government programs. Studies showed that these women and their children were trapped in a “cycle of violence” because the male used a variety of forms of violence, threat and coercion to isolate, weaken and control these women. See the Duluth Wheel of Domestic Violence. Studies also showed that this violence was not an isolated event but part of a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors. See the Duluth Wheel of Domestic Violence. The situation these women and children lived in was violent and leaving was dangerous. In order to break this cycle of violence, assistance was necessary and legislation followed.
Today, every time our defense lawyers or attorneys represent a male accused of domestic violence, we are acutely aware that there is, for lack of a better word, a presumption, that our client’s behavior is part of a larger pattern of domestic violence and coercive behaviors. We are also aware that police, prosecuting attorneys and judges know “true” cases of domestic violence are highly volatile and will instinctually err on the side of caution in cases until they have a better idea of what they are dealing with. Spending the time to speak with our clients at our office to identify the stressors (work, money, depression, substance use, communication problems, infidelity, family problems, mental health, parenting issues etc.) that lead to an isolated incident of domestic violence and following this up with professional evaluations has consistently led to positive outcomes and charge reductions our clients can live with. We cannot change the facts of your case, but we can put them in context and guide our clients through the legal maze surrounding domestic violence accusations and relationships.
Our criminal defense lawyers | attorneys know that criminal cases are rarely as simple as the police report and our clients hire us to make sure their rights are protected. Our firm has a unique blend of courtroom experience, skills, knowledge and temperament. Consultations are free but a poor choice in counsel is not. The first step is an appointment. Call us at 206-708-7852.