DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CHARGES IN THE CITY OF BELLEVUE
Bellevue court only handles misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor charges. There are no felonies charged in Bellevue. Felonies usually carry months to years of jail prison. For gross misdemeanors, a person can receive as low as zero days in jail. If you’ve been charged with domestic violence in Bellevue court, you are not facing a felony.
WHAT HAPPENS AT THE FIRST HEARING IN BELLEVUE
- The first hearing following an arrest for domestic violence, is usually an “arraignment” hearing. The arraignment hearing is where you receive a copy of the criminal charge and enter a plea. There are two pleas – guilty or not guilty. A not guilty plea is expected by the judge and the prosecutor.
- The court will consider arguments for release from jail, if someone is in jail.
- The judge will consider imposing a No Contact Order preventing the defendant from having contact with the alleged victim.
- The court gives your constitutional rights in writing
- You receive another court date for a pretrial hearing in the future.
NO CONTACT ORDER
All domestic violence criminal charges involve the judge considering imposing a No Contact Order. The No Contact Order is a court order which prohibits the defendant from having any contact with the alleged victim and the alleged victim’s residence, workplace and school. The judges usually do not consider whether the police report is not true at the hearing on the No Contact Order. The judge will err on the side of caution and impose a No Contact Order. Most domestic violence charges involve a No Contact Order.
An alleged victim may ask the court not to impose a No Contact Order. The judge will often issue a No Contact Order over the victim’s objection. There is a victim’s advocate in Bellevue that can assist an alleged victim in getting a hearing to ask the judge to remove or modify a No Contact Order. Victims/alleged victim’s can also hire their own attorneys to advocate for them.
No Contact Orders generally last while the criminal case is still pending. The judge may be willing to modify the No Contact Order, especially to allow the defendant to have contact with his/her kids.
Most No Contact Orders will terminate at some point. This is done either by negotiation or when a case is dropped or if the defendant has participated in counseling or treatment.
It’s possible to negotiate a dismissal of a charge based on the facts and evidence in the case. The prosecutor might be persuaded to drop the case, although this can be challenging to accomplish. The prosecutor might be willing to offer a dismissal if the defendant meets certain conditions. This is called an “SOC.” Nobody has to negotiate their case, but attempts to negotiate may be worthwhile. Success in negotiation depends on the evidence, mitigating factors and a defendant’s personal goals.
In Bellevue, if you are charged with domestic violence, one option availabel might be a Stipulated Order of Continuance. This is a formal agreement between the defendant and the prosecutor that involves conditions the defendant will meet in order to get the case dismissed. It is not a guilty plea or a conviction. This is also a certain path to dismissal. Often in DV cases, the condition is some form of DV treatment. This is a time and financial commitment that many individuals do not welcome. Many people find that the focus of treatment is not what they need or want.
Whether an SOC is a good outcome is based on the details of the SOC and an individual’s circumstances – immigration status, job or career concerns, family and personal needs.
YOUR RIGHTS AND TRIAL
You have several constitutional rights that the court and prosecutor must observe:
- You are presumed innocent
- You have a right to a trial on the charges
- You have a right to hear and questions witnesses who would testify against you
- You have a right to have witnesses testify for you
- You have a right to remain silent and refuse to testify against yourself
- You have a right to appeal a finding of guilt after a trial.
You have a right to counsel of your own choosing.
If you don’t get the resolution you want or need, you can have a jury trial which requires six jurors to all unanimously agree that your are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
As with every court and every prosecutor, there is always a chance to get your case dismissed. This involves the defense attorney working up the case and gathering the right evidence. To get a case dismissed, there needs to be strong evidence that undermines the credibility of the main witness, alleged victim.
There also needs to be a prosecutor who is confident in critically evaluating evidence. If a prosecutor is convinced that the evidence will not support a conviction after a trial, the prosecutor will drop the charge. If the prosecutor thinks that it might be hard but she might prevail, she will not necessarily drop the charge.
It’s a myth that prosecutors will not take a case to trial because of time or money.
The prosecutor in Bellevue is a veteran prosecutor who has handled hundreds of domestic violence cases. Veteran prosecutors have perspective to distinguish between the serious criminal defendants and everyone else (moms, dads, technology and software professionals, permanent residents, students, etc).
The Bellevue prosecutor will offer resolutions in cases based on her sense of future of safety of the alleged victim, evidentiary issues and the seriousness of the allegations.
You have a right to be treated with respect by the court and court participants. In Bellevue, the clerks, judges, prosecutor and probation, are respectful. Even if the experience is scary or humiliating, there is no extra humiliation imposed by the court.
By the same token, respectful treatment is not to be equated with leniency or someone taking your side. The criminal court process is still churning against you.
The person on your side will be your defense attorney. Please feel free to contact us to discuss your case and needs.