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In Washington state, domestic violence is a crime that requires officers to arrest the violent person if they are 16 or older, when there is “probable cause” that he or she committed a domestic violence offense. If the suspect is under 16, they can be arrested, but it is up to the “officer’s discretion”, meaning the officer decides if it warrants an arrest. There is “probable cause” to make a domestic-violence-related arrest when any the following have occurred:

The suspect is alleged to have committed any one of the following:
Assault of a family or household member
    In Washington, Assault is defined as an intentional touching of another person that is harmful or offensive regardless of whether any physical injury is caused.
    An assault can also be any physical action intended to cause another person to reasonably fear bodily injury or death (even if there was no intent to actually inflict bodily injury).
Harassment of a family or household member
In Washington, Harassment is defined as to knowingly and unlawfully threaten (when by words or conduct it places the person threatened to reasonably fear that the threat will be carried out) to:
  1. Cause bodily injury in the future to another person; or
  2. Cause physical damage to another’s property; or
  3. Subject another person to physical confinement or restraint; or
  4. Maliciously to do any act which is intended to substantially harm another person with respect to his or her physical or mental health or safety.


Malicious Mischief
In Washington, a person is guilty of malicious mischief if he or she knowingly and maliciously causes physical damage to the property of another.
Interfering with Reporting Domestic Violence
This Washington DV crime is committed when a person commits a crime of domestic violence and prevents or attempts to prevent the victim or witness from calling 911, obtaining medical assistance or making a report to any law enforcement official.

Sometimes officers make an arrest even though parents request they don’t arrest their child. The decision to arrest is the police officer’s decision, not the parent’s. However, if you want your teen to be arrested, explain your teen’s behavior to the police officer and let them know if there have been previous violent incidents. Inform the officer if you do not feel safe with your teen at home.

Most parents have mixed feelings when their teen is arrested, including feeling guilty, shocked, tearful and like they are a bad parent. But they often report that their teens’ abusive behavior decreased after the arrest. Most parents in the Step-Up program say that calling the police was one of the hardest, but most beneficial decisions they have ever made for their child. They are finally getting help and there is no longer violence by their teen.