In Washington State, it is a crime if your partner hurts you physically, forces you to have sex, threatens to hurt or kill your children, stalks or harasses you, or destroys your property. All forms of domestic violence are harmful and should be taken seriously.
What Is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence can take many forms; abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual, financial, and/or psychological. No matter the form, all types of abuse are harmful. Abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of race, religion, culture, socioeconomic status, marital status, gender, or sexual orientation.
Washington State law defines domestic violence offenses as virtually any criminal act committed by one “family or household member” against another. King County District Court - East Division, Bellevue handles misdemeanor domestic violence offenses including: assault, property destruction, harassment and telephone harassment, intimidation with a weapon, reckless endangerment and violation of no contact or domestic violence protection orders.
A “family or household member” includes:
- Persons who are now or have been married or resided together,
- Persons who have been, or are presently in, a dating relationship so long as both parties are at least sixteen years of age,
- Persons who have a child in common,
- Parent-child and step-parent,
- Grandparent-grandchild (including step-grandparents), and
- Adult siblings.
Domestic violence offenses handled by the City of Bellevue Prosecutor's Office are either misdemeanors, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine, or gross misdemeanors, punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Generally, a person who has been convicted of a domestic violence assault cannot possess a firearm or get a concealed weapons permit in the State of Washington. Violation of this provision is a felony.
Information, assistance and resources for victims of domestic violence.
- Eastside Legal Assistance Program: The Eastside Legal Assistance Program (ELAP) is a non-profit organization that provides high-quality, no-cost civil legal services to survivors of domestic violence throughout King County, Washington, and to low-income residents of East and Northeast King County.
- Northwest Immigrant Rights Project: Provides immigration-related legal advice, information, representation and education to low-income Washington State Residents.
- 206-587-4009, or 1-800-445-5771
- King County Bar Association – Lawyer Referral and Information Service: evaluates need for legal assistance and refers to an attorney or appropriate community resource.
- LifeWire: This organization has been providing domestic violence services and programs to the community since 1982. Programs they provide include a 24-hour crisis line, confidential emergency shelter, safety planning, legal advocacy, transitional housing and support groups for victims of domestic violence and their children. All services are free.
- 425-746-1940, or 1-800-827-8840
- Abused Deaf Women’s Advocacy Services (ADWAS): services to victims of domestic violence who are deaf, deaf/blind, or hard of hearing. Services include safe homes, 24-hour crisis line, safety planning, therapy, support groups, legal/medical/child advocacy.
- 206-726-0093 TTY
- Chaya: confidential advocacy services for South Asian women who have been the victim of domestic violence. The staff is bilingual in Bangla, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Punjabi, Tamil and Urdu.
- 206-325-0325 or 1-877-922-4292
- Chinese Information and Services Center: a multi-service center including advocacy, safety planning and counseling for domestic violence victims and their children. The staff is bilingual in Mandarin, Cantonese, Tioshanese, Taiwanese and Fujianese and Cambodian.
- Consejo Counseling and Referral Services: counseling, safety planning, support groups, legal/medical advocacy and transitional housing for Latino/Hispanic women who have been the victim of domestic violence. Staff is bilingual in Spanish.
- 206-461-4880 or 206-753-7006 after hours/weekend crisis line.
- Northwest Network: counseling, support groups, safety planning and legal advocacy for lesbian, bisexual, gay and trans people who are currently in or have left a physically and/or emotionally abusive relationship.
- King County Sexual Assault Resource Center (KCSARC): information, support, counseling and education for victims of sexual assault, including confidential advocacy and 24-hour crisis line to answer medical, legal or other questions. All ages served.
- 425-226-5062 or 1-888-99-VOICE (86423)
For more resources, please see the Violence against women of King County – Domestic & Dating Violence information booklet (.pdf). (pages 47-54)
Rights of a Victim
Rights of Crime Victims & Witnesses (RCW 7.69.030)
If you are a crime victim, a survivor of a crime victim or a witness to a crime, the State of Washington provides that reasonable efforts be made to ensure you the following rights:
Rights of Child Victims and Witnesses (RCW7.69A.030)
In addition to the rights that have been provided for all crime victims and witnesses, Washington law requires reasonable efforts be made to ensure the following rights for child victims and witnesses under the age of eighteen.
- With respect to child victims of violent or sex crimes or child abuse, to receive a written statement of the rights of child victims as listed in RCW7.69A.030 as well as local crime victim/witness program information, if such a program exists.
- To have all proceedings explained in language easily understood by the child.
- With respect to child victims of sex or violent crimes or child abuse, to have a crime victim advocate or any other support person present at any prosecutorial or defense interviews for emotional support.
- To not have the names, addresses, or photographs of the child victim or witness disclosed to any agency outside the criminal justice system without permission.
- Whenever possible, to be provided a secure waiting area during court proceedings and to have an advocate or support person stay with the child prior to and during any court proceedings.
- To allow an advocate to make recommendations to the prosecuting attorney about the child’s ability to cooperate with prosecution and the potential effect the proceedings on the child.
- To allow an advocate to inform the court about the child’s ability to understand the nature of the proceedings.
- To be provided information and referrals to social service agencies to assist the child and/or the child’s family with the emotional impact of the crime and the legal proceedings.
- To allow an advocate to be present in court to provide emotional support to the child during testimony.
- To inform the court as to the need to have other supportive persons present during the child’s testimony.
- To allow law enforcement agencies to enlist the services of other professional personnel such as child protection services, victim advocates or prosecutorial staff trained to interview child victims.
More Information on Victims’ Rights (RCW 10.99.030 (7))
IF YOU ARE THE VICTIM OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, you may ask the city or county prosecuting attorney to file a criminal complaint. You also have the right to file a petition in Superior, District or Municipal court requesting an order for protection from domestic abuse, which could include any of the following:
- An order restraining your abuser from further acts of abuse.
- An order directing your abuser to leave your household.
- An order preventing your abuser from entering a residence, school, business or place of employment.
- An order awarding you or the other parent custody of, or visitation with, your minor children in your custody.
- An order restraining your abuser from contacting, molesting or interfering with minor children in your custody.
The forms you need to obtain a Protection Order are available in any Municipal, District or Superior court or at the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Protection Order Advocacy Program.
Victim Protection in Rental Housing (RCW 59.18.575)Victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking may terminate their rental agreements. In order to terminate a rental agreement, the tenant must:
- Be a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking (or have a household member who is a victim or the above crimes);
- Have a valid order of protection or have reported the violence to a qualified third party (e.g. police), and that third party has provided the victim with a written, signed record of the report; and
- The request to terminate must be made within 90 days of the violent incident.
Domestic Violence Leave – Victims and Family Members (RCW 49.76.030)
An employee may take reasonable leave from work to:
- Seek legal assistance or remedies for the employee or employee’s family members including preparing for, or participating in, any civil or criminal legal proceeding related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
- Seek treatment for physical or mental injuries caused by domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, either for the employee or family members.
- Obtain, or assist a family member in obtaining, services from a domestic violence shelter, rape crisis center, or other social services program for relief from domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
- Obtain, or assist a family member in obtaining mental health counseling related to an incident or domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
- Participate in safety planning, relocate, or take other actions to increase the safety of the employee or the employee’s family members from future domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
Protection Orders & No Contact Orders
What is a No Contact Order?
1. If a person is arrested for, or charged with, a domestic violence-related crime, a No Contact Order may be issued to prohibit the person from contacting you. When issuing a No Contact Order, the Judge considers the input of the prosecutor and the victim, safety issues, and the defendant criminal history, as well as history of abuse. The Judge may issue a No Contact order whether or not you request one. Contact your advocate to discuss your wishes.
2. If a No Contact Order is issued, you will be sent a copy. If you are unsure whether a No Contact Order was issued, or you have not received your copy, please contact your advocate or the prosecutor.
3. A violation of the No Contact Order is a crime. It is the defendant’s responsibility to abide by the No Contact Order. Even if you invite contact, the defendant could be arrested and charged with additional crimes. If a No Contact Order has been violated, call 911 immediately.
What is a civil protection order?
To learn more about the different types of protection orders, please visit the Washington State Courts website.
Domestic violence victims may file a court petition for a Civil Protection Order. A protection order does not involve the police or criminal charges. If granted, a Civil Protection Order can:
- Prohibit contact of any kind,
- Remove the restrained party from a shared residence,
- Grant temporary custody of children and set visitation schedules,
- Order the restrained inttreatment/counseling,
- The order can be tailored to meet individual needs.
Petitions for Civil Protection Orders can be filed at any King County Superior Court, King County District Court or any other Superior or District court in Washington State.
The King County District Court - East Division, Bellevue is located at:
1309 114th Ave. S.E., Suite 100
Bellevue, WA 98004
Forms for protection orders can be obtained at the Superior Court Clerk's Office, Room 378-W (3rd Floor), online at the Washington State Courts Website, or call 206-296-7870
For more information, go to the Protection Order Advocacy Program in Room E-223,visit their website, or call 206-477-1103
(Advocates will explain the process, provide assistance with completing forms, and accompany the applicant to the court process.)
Why Did the Court issue a no-contact order?
RCW 10.99.040 provides that because of the likelihood of repeated violence, the Court may issue a Domestic Violence No Contact Order when any person is arrested or charged with a domestic violence offense.
I don't want a no-contact order. Can I contact the defendant?
It is the Judge’s decision whether to impose a Domestic Violence No Contact Order. It is important to remember that the order is against the defendant and it is their responsibility to abide by the order. If the defendant engages in any communication in violation of the order, even if the defendant did not initiate the communication, he or she may face serious sanctions including revocation of release, contempt of court and additional criminal charges.
What if there is more than one no-contact order against the defendant?
Judges in the King County District Court - East Division, Bellevue cannot change or cancel orders issued by another court. The requesting party must go to each court individually to request that an order be changed or cancelled. Remember, unless all orders have been cancelled, the defendant remains in danger of being charged with a new crime if any contact occurs.
How do I request that a Judge change or cancel a domestic violence no-contact order?
You must first file a completed form titled, “Protected Person’s Motion to Modify/Rescind Domestic Violence No-Contact Order”.
Once received, the Court will schedule a hearing, and the defendant and the attorneys will be notified of the hearing date. At the hearing you will have an opportunity to talk to the Judge and explain why the order should be cancelled (“rescinded”) or changed (“modified”).
What happens at the hearing?
The Court will listen to the reasons why you want the Court to change or cancel the no-contact order. The Court may also hear from the defendant (if present) and may also hear from the prosecutors (if pending criminal charges). If you fail to appear, your request may be denied. You may not be allowed to discuss the facts of the case at this hearing, as that will be heard at a different date. You may be asked if you have a safety plan in place.
What information will the Judge consider when hearing my motion?The Court will consider many factors when deciding whether to change or cancel the order, including:
- Whether the defendant has a criminal history or history of domestic violence;
- Whether the defendant has a history of violating court orders, including warrants;
- The nature of the offense;
- The status of the case;
- The defendant's compliance with the conditions of release or probation;
- Whether there are new violations;
- Lethality and other factors indicating future violence; and
- Any other relevant factors.
Pressing or Dropping Charges
A police officer responding to a domestic violence incident must complete a police report whether or not an arrest occurs. The City Attorney’s Office will review the police report to determine whether or not to file charges. If charges are filed, only the prosecutor has the authority to drop them. A Judge must approve the prosecutor’s request to dismiss a case. The victim is a witness for the City and has no authority to drop charges. In many cases, the City will prosecute a case even if the victim refuses to testify.
The City Attorney’s Office may choose not to file charges. In that event, the victim will be notified of that decision.
Domestic Violence Advocate
How does the Domestic Victim advocate help victims?
In the criminal justice system, the Domestic Violence Victim Advocate is a professional who works with the prosecutor’s office and/or police department to support and inform you through criminal proceedings. The advocate can provide information to you about your case, domestic violence, and safety options, as well as referrals to community advocacy programs and other services. The advocate can also provide your input to the prosecutor regarding safety concerns, No Contact Orders and other issues. It is important to keep the advocate and the prosecutor informed of your current address and phone number so they can, if you request, update you on what is happening with your case.
- Call the City of Bellevue’s Domestic Violence advocate: 425-452-4237
Probation Supervision & Counseling
Defendants who are convicted of domestic violence offenses are often placed on supervised probation. The Bellevue Probation Department has specialized training in Domestic Violence. Probation counselors monitor the completion of court ordered treatment programs or counseling. Defendants report regularly to Probation until compliance with treatment is well established.
Defendants are frequently court ordered to complete a State certified domestic violence treatment program or Domestic Violence Moral Resonation Therapy. Defendants must pay for treatment.
In addition to, or instead of, domestic violence treatment, the Judge may order alcohol/drug treatment, individual counseling, parenting classes or sexual deviancy treatment.
Bellefield Office Park
1309 114th Avenue SE
Bellevue, WA 98004
Probation Office - Suite 200
King County District Court - East Division, Bellevue - Suite 100
The law requires a police officer responding to an incident of domestic violence to make an arrest if the officer has probable cause to believe that a domestic violence assault or other serious domestic violence offense was committed within the previous four hours.
If the officer determines that family or household members have assaulted each other, the officer will arrest the person he or she believes to be the primary aggressor. State law also requires mandatory arrest for violations of No Contact Orders and Civil Protection Orders.
A person arrested for a domestic violence offense will usually be held in jail until he/she appears before a Judge, usually the following day. The Court may require a defendant charged with domestic violence to sign a No Contact Order as a condition of release from jail prior to trial.
Prior to arraigning domestic violence defendants, the Domestic Violence advocate will attempt to contact victims to determine whether they wish a No Contact Order be issued.