In Washington State, there are several types of orders that are designed to prevent contact between two people. Contact can refer to personal contact, phone contact, texting, emailing, facebooking, communication through a third party or even remaining within a certain distance of someone’s school, home or workplace.
Although people commonly refer to all orders preventing contact as restraining orders, the type of order that is issued will depend upon who initiates the order as well as the relationship between the accuser and the accused.
- Domestic Violence Protection Order – issued at the request of the alleged victim as a civil remedy for domestic violence. An accusation of domestic violence can sometimes be enough evidence for a judge to issue a DV protection order. If you want to avoid involving law enforcement but want to protect yourself from being assaulted, you may want to consider a domestic violence protection order.
- No Contact Orders – a judge can issue in a criminal case. For example, if you are accused of assault, the court can issue a no contact order protecting the alleged victim and preventing you from making contact in person, through another person, or through phone/email/social media etc.
- Anti-Harassment Order – a civil order that can be issued as a remedy for a person claiming any type of harassment. Anti-harassment orders are commonly sought in neighbor disputes and other disputes that don’t involve a domestic relationship.
- Restraining Order – temporary and permanent restraining orders are normally filed as part of an existing family law case, such as a divorce proceeding or child custody case.
What happens if I violate a court order preventing contact?
In WA State, a violation of any of the above orders is a criminal offense. In a criminal trial, the prosecutor must prove that:
- An order was in place AND
- The violator knew about the order AND
- The violator engaged in any type of prohibited contact.
What are the criminal penalties?
If the contact did not involve an assault and if the accused does not have two prior convictions for violating an order, the offense will be a gross misdemeanor, which means that there is a potential sentence of 364 days in jail and a $5000 fine. If the contact involved assault or if the accused has two prior convictions for violating an order, the offense will be a Class C Felony, with a maximum sentence of five years in jail and a $10,000 fine.
What if the contact was consensual?
When a court order is violated in WA State, the wishes of the alleged victim become irrelevant to the court. Even if the contact was consensual or initiated by the victim, it can still result in a criminal conviction. There is no law that prevents the victim from initiating contact with the defendant.
Which side does your firm represent?
At Beckwith DV Law, we take your side. We represent people who want a civil protection order filed and we also defend people who are facing accusations of misconduct. Our experience representing plaintiffs and defendants allows us to better predict outcomes and present your case to the court in a convincing fashion.
What geographical areas does your firm work in?
We work for clients in the courts of King, Snohomish, Pierce, Thurston, and Kitsap County, including the municipal courts of Seattle, Bellevue, Everett, Tacoma, and Olympia Washington. Call us any day of the week for a free consultation.