One of three homicides in King County is a domestic violence crime, and an estimated 50,000 incidents of domestic violence are reported each year throughout the state. As many as 60,000 children in King County are exposed to domestic violence in their homes.
I am committed to combating domestic violence by aggressively prosecuting felony and misdemeanor DV offenders and by supporting DV advocacy for victims. I am a co-convener of the Domestic Violence Initiative (DVI), a multi-disciplinary task force dedicated to improving our region’s response to domestic violence.
Working with former Attorney General Rob McKenna and former King County Prosecuting Attorney Norm Maleng, I helped convince the Washington State legislature to adopt a new law that expands second degree assault to include strangulation. Prior to this change in the law, prosecutors often had no choice but to resolve strangulation cases as misdemeanors because the offender often caused no lasting harm and left few marks or injuries, even though the victim’s life was clearly threatened.
Working with the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys we have changed the way in which repeat domestic violence abusers are sentenced based upon their misdemeanor criminal history of abuse. We also have created a new stalking protection order, signaling to law enforcement and the public that although rare, cases of true stalking are extremely serious.
Working with the Seattle City Attorney’s Office I have launched an innovative program where the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office sites a part-time felony DV Deputy Prosecuting Attorney at the City Attorney’s Office to review all of the city’s misdemeanor DV cases for potential felony charges. Many defendants who have cases pending in Seattle Municipal Court also have pending felony DV cases or are on probation for previous DV convictions. Having a felony DV prosecutor review city misdemeanor cases improves case development and helps identify and hold serial DV offenders accountable. This program was so successful that we replicated this program in South King County in 2010.
I have also increased staffing and capacity of the Protection Order Program at King County Courthouse and the Maleng Regional Justice Center, and our office is close to launching a new website that will allow victims to complete applications for protection orders online.