There are more potential outcomes to a domestic violence (DV) charge than virtually any other criminal offense. From dismissal of the charge with prejudice to a finding of guilt after trial to a slew of negotiated outcomes in the middle, make sure you are familiar with all of the different ways your DV charge can be resolved. If you wish to discuss these general outcomes or more specific possible outcomes based on the nature of your case, contact one of our Washington domestic violence (DV) lawyers at Milios Defense.
1. Dismissal with Prejudice.
A case is dismissed with prejudiced whenever jury or bench trial verdict comes back as "not guilty", the state agrees to dismiss the charge and believes it will never be able to refile or when the court dismisses the state's case and believes the possibility of re-opening the case should be foreclosed. The dismissal with prejudice means that the case is closed for good and that the defendant is free from a guilty judgment. In cases that go to trial and result in a favorable defense verdict, the dismissal is obvious. There are also cases where the state does not believe it can move forward and makes a motion to dismiss it's own charge. This usually occurs when the state is having trouble getting its witnesses to court and can not move forward without them. If this realization occurs late in the process, i.e. day of trial, the case will likely be dismissed with prejudice.
2. Dismissal without Prejudice.
A dismissal without prejudice occurs when the state believes it can not move forward with its case but wants to keep open the possibility of refiling the charge. Sometimes these dismissals occur at the request of the alleged victim or because the state feels the alleged victim does not wish to cooperate and there is no other testimony or evidence that is likely to gain a conviction. In such cases, the state can move to dismiss the case in a manner that allows them to refile in a reasonable period of time should the alleged victim have a change of heart and wish to prosecute at a later time. Such a dismissal is usually a good outcome but one which obviously carries with it the specter of refiling.
3. Amending of Charge so as not to reflect DV designation.
Occasionally the parties will work out plea agreement that requires a guilty finding but does so in a manner that does implicate the DV consequences. For example, a person might be charged with Assault DV. A conviction with the DV designation would carry with it several mandatory DV conviction consequences, from DV treatment to loss of right to possess firearms to compliance with the interstate compact. Convictions without this designation would not require these kinds of mandatory provisions. Such amendments could occur because factually, the conduct isn't domestic violence or by way of a negotiated resolution with the state.
4. Stipulated Order of Continuance.
A stipulated order of continuance (SOC) is an agreement by the state to dismiss the underlying domestic violence charge in exchange for the defendant's compliance with a number of agreed and predetermined conditions. Such an agreement almost always carries with it a requirement of participation in a domestic violence treatment program. More information on the usual terms of an SOC can be found here at Washington Stipulated Order of Continuance (SOC).
5. Guilty Finding.
A guilty finding to a charge of domestic violence would occur by way of either a plea or an eventual finding of guilt after trial. There are very few situations where we ever suggest that someone plead guilty to a DV charge but that is not to say they don't exist. Never plead guilt to a DV crime until all of your other options have been considered and explored. Even then a guilty plea is unlikely to be your best option.