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The Truth About Domestic Violence Advocates - Washington Criminal Law

Posted Wednesday, August 30, 2017 by Lizanne Padula.

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Prosecuting attorneys of alleged Domestic Violence (DV) cases often utilize a person with the title “Domestic Violence Advocate.” An alleged victim may be contacted by a DV Advocate. This person will hold themselves out as someone who will advocate for the alleged victim. In fact, DV Advocates are typically trained social workers and their purported job is to assist alleged DV victims while the DV case is moving through the criminal court system. However, a DV Advocate is an employee of the Prosecutor’s Office, shares office space with Prosecutors, and regularly work with and take orders from Prosecutors. By the very structure of their employment, they are influenced and controlled by Prosecutors. There is absolutely no way for a DV advocate to be completely independent and able to advocate for the alleged victim.

A DV Advocate will attempt to gather additional information about the incident that brought the individuals into the court system. They will seek information about the relationship between the alleged victim and the accused. Information they gather will be given to the Prosecuting Attorney to be used against the Defendant. DV Advocates are not advocating for the alleged victim’s rights, they are there to garner evidence to make the Prosecution’s job easier.

DV Advocates cannot give legal advice or answer legal questions because they are not licensed attorneys, and they cannot provide assistance in obtaining protection orders.

As an alleged victim, you have rights. Until ordered otherwise by a Court, you can refuse to talk to DV advocates, police, prosecutors, and defense attorneys. Only a Court Order can take away this right.

An alleged victim who wants an advocate who is required to put the alleged victim’s interests above all else, must hire his or her own attorney. Only an attorney hired by the alleged victim can be independent and able to advocate solely for the alleged victim.

If You Are A Victim of An Act of Domestic Violence

If you are a victim of an act of Domestic Violence and have called or are thinking of calling the police, please remember that once you make a statement and tell the police you are the victim of an assault or some other act of domestic violence, you lose all control over what happens to you, your family, and the person you are accusing.

You will not be able to change your mind later and get the charges dropped or dismissed. The concept of you being able to “press charges” or “drop charges” does not exist in Washington State. Further, you will have absolutely no control over what punishment is imposed upon the person accused. Once an arrest has been made and the case has been referred to the Prosecutor’s Office, they have all the power and you become just another witness.

If you truly need protection, we urge you to call the police and make a statement. However, if your goal is to gain some control over your situation, understand that calling the police will transfer complete control to them. Feel free to call us at 425-883-3366 if you need advice.

If You Are Accused of An Act of Domestic Violence

If you are about to be accused or are being accused of an act of DV, it is usually in your best interest to remain silent and ask for an attorney. You do not have to answer questions posed to you by law enforcement. Be polite but firm in your desire to remain silence until you have an attorney by your side.

The skilled attorneys at Padula & Associates, LLC know how important it is to defend your rights. Our attorneys are experienced in all aspects of Domestic Violence defense in Washington State. We know how to advocate for our clients and to pinpoint the weaknesses in the Prosecution’s case. For more than 20 years, Padula & Associates, LLC has been serving the people of King County, Snohomish County, and Washington State with aggressive and effective criminal defense.

We answer our phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call us 24/7 at 425-883-3366, email us at info@paduladefense.com, or fill out our online free consultation form today.