Criminal Trespass and Domestic Violence
In Washington, it is criminal trespassing to come onto someone else’s property and stay there if you’re aware your presence is illegal. Where the perpetrator and the property owner or occupier are family members or share an intimate relationship, the crime may be charged as domestic violence. There are two degrees of criminal trespassing. If you are charged with criminal trespass and domestic violence, the experienced Seattle domestic violence lawyers of Blair & Kim can advise you regarding your rights.Criminal Trespass and Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is charged when certain crimes are committed and the perpetrator and victim are family or household members. Family or household members include spouses, exes, those who are presently cohabiting or previously have, blood relatives, relatives by marriage, those with a dating relationship, those at least 16-years-old or older having a dating relationship with another who is at least 16-years-old, and biological or legal parents and children. Domestic violence can include criminal trespass when it is perpetrated by one family or household member against another.
Criminal trespass may be in the first degree under Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 9A.52.070. You can be found guilty of criminal trespass in the first degree if you knowingly enter or stay unlawfully in a building. Criminal trespass in the first degree is charged as a gross misdemeanor.
Criminal trespass can also be charged in the second degree under RCW 9A.52.080. You can be found guilty of criminal trespass in the second degree if you knowingly enter or stay on someone else’s property under circumstances that aren’t considered criminal trespass in the first degree. For example, if you go onto some other type of property belonging to someone with whom you have a household or family relationship — and that property is not a building, such as a car or structure or land—you could be charged with second degree criminal trespassing.Penalties
Misdemeanor criminal trespass in the second degree can include up to 90 days in jail, up to $1000 in fines, and probation. Additionally, you may face a restraining order and additional penalties where the criminal trespass constitutes domestic violence.
When you’re charged with criminal trespass in the first degree, you are facing penalties for a gross misdemeanor. These penalties can include up to 1 year in jail and a $5000 in fine. You may be placed on probation. There are additional penalties where the gross misdemeanor also constitutes domestic violence.Defenses
Where a property is open to the public, and you followed the rules to gain access to the property, you may have a strong defense against criminal trespass. Similarly, if you reasonably believed a family member or person with whom you have a household relationship allowed you to be present on the property, this could be a strong defense that your lawyer can raise.
When a police officer responds to a call about domestic violence, he or she must make an arrest if he or she has probable cause to believe domestic violence was perpetrated within the last 4 hours. The officer is only supposed to arrest whoever is believed to be the main aggressor in the situation. There are also mandatory arrests for violations of no contact orders or civil protection orders. For example, if you violated a no contact order and went into the home of your ex-wife to confront her about custody of your children, you could be charged with criminal trespass in the first degree.Consult a Domestic Violence Attorney in Seattle
If you are charged with criminal trespass and domestic violence in Seattle, it is advisable to hire a skillful criminal defense lawyer who understands the penalties and collateral consequences associated with the charges. In addition to a potential jail sentence and fines, a criminal trespass conviction will go on your criminal record and could potentially impact a family law matter in the future. Our family law attorney and criminal defense attorney join forces to develop a strong strategy for every client we represent. We represent people in Seattle, Redmond, Kirkland, Bellevue, and Kings County. Call us at (206) 622-6562 or contact us via our online form.