November 7th, 2022
Defending Wrongful Domestic Violence Accusations in Washington
Intimate relationships are emotionally complex. When disputes arise, things can get heated and escalate quickly. However, although domestic violence does happen across the country, false allegations of domestic violence can carry significant and weighty consequences. Exaggerated or downright untrue allegations of domestic violence can wreak havoc on your relationship and reputation. Even though someone facing an accusation should be presumed innocent until proven guilty, the allegation itself can grow out of control and cause loved ones, friends, acquaintances, and even your community to view you with suspicion and judgment. Feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and frightened is natural when you’re wrongfully accused of domestic violence. However, you do not have to go through this challenging time alone. Contact an experienced and compassionate Seattle attorney to discuss your options for protecting yourself and defending your reputation. Together, you can take proactive steps to keep your future as bright as possible.
How Washington Defines Domestic Violence
As of July 2022, Washington state has revised the legal definition of domestic violence. Under this newly expanded definition, domestic violence refers to “Physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the infliction of fear of physical harm, bodily injury, or assault; nonconsensual sexual conduct or nonconsensual sexual penetration; coercive control; unlawful harassment; or stalking of one intimate partner/household member by another intimate partner/household member.” Additionally, the term “stalking” has been further defined as “a course of conduct involving repeated/continuing contact, attempted contact, monitoring, tracking, surveillance or disrupting harassment of an individual.” Under these expanded definitions, a person may be accused of domestic violence even if their alleged behavior was not physical in nature. According to the newly approved definitions, manipulation, coercive control, or repeated attempts to contact the alleged victim may constitute domestic violence.
Consequences of a Domestic Violence Allegation
As the subject of a domestic violence allegation, you may find your life upended in several ways. Even if you know the accusation is baseless or false, it can still become a destructive force, both personally and professionally. Friends and family may start to alienate you, and your employer may take steps to distance itself from you. Unfortunately, your ex can use a false allegation to gain leverage during a current or future divorce or custody battle. You may find yourself losing your parental rights, all due to someone else’s words. In some cases, a domestic violence accusation can lead to criminal charges. While Washington state laws specify that the act of making false accusations is a crime, this does not stop all actors from trying. Any allegation of domestic violence—whether true or not—can cause you significant headaches, anxiety, and stress.
What to Do Once a Domestic Violence Allegation Arises
While it’s natural to feel paralyzed and fearful during hard times, you should take action as soon as possible to ensure your rights remain protected and defended. Below are some concrete steps you can take to maximize your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome.
Contact a Trusted Family Law Attorney
As soon as you learn that someone has accused you of domestic violence, enlist the guidance of an experienced and compassionate Seattle attorney to discuss your situation. Your attorney will assess every detail of these alleged events and help you identify the most strategic path forward. In addition to helping you understand your rights and legal options, your attorney can provide the emotional support you need to weather this storm as gracefully as possible. Your lawyer will answer your questions, address your concerns, and provide you with the guidance and reassurance you need to move forward with greater clarity and confidence.
Document Your Side of the Story
Your attorney will help you identify strategies to fight these allegations. For example, they may recommend writing down all the facts concerning these false accusations. If the alleged victim is exaggerating the truth, write down your account of the incident, providing evidence whenever you can. Your attorney can help you gather statements from witnesses who saw the incident or from people who know the alleged victim is not a credible source of information. If your ex is trying to gain leverage in a child custody battle by accusing you of being an abusive parent, document any details showing that you are a responsible and loving parent (i.e., point to how much time you spend with your child, the activities you do together, any sacrifices you made for your child’s well-being, and other evidence of your love for the child). Facing these allegations can be devastating, so make sure you have a supportive individual, network, or resource to help you cope with these intense emotions. Remember, working with an experienced and understanding Seattle attorney is the best way to gain the composure and control you need to fight these allegations.