As you are discovering, if you are accused of domestic violence assault in Washington it is taken very seriously and there are many potential consequences. You’re already worried about the potential jail time and fines as well as other potential penalties such as mandatory treatment. You’re also probably concerned about the no contact order (NCO) that may have even already been placed on you.
You’ve probably got several questions. You’re wondering, “What if the alleged victim doesn’t want the NCO? What if the alleged victim contacts me? What are the consequences if I break the NCO? How will I get my belongings?” This will strive to answer those questions but what you really need is the counsel and defense of a defense attorney.
What are the consequences if you break the NCO? You would then be charged with the secondary crime of violating a no contact order. This can sometimes even be classified as a felony. Plus it does not look good on your case. It does not necessarily guarantee a bad result, there are no guarantees either way, but it does make the job of your defense more difficult and an unfavorable result is more likely. Please make sure you understand the limitations of the NCO and follow them. If there is an emergency that makes it necessary for you to contact the alleged victim call your defense attorney. He will be able to contact the prosecuting attorney. It may make things complicated now – but better a minor complication now than horrendous consequences that last much longer.
What if the alleged victim doesn’t want the NCO? There are many reasons why they might not. You may live together, raise children or even run a business together. In any of these situations a NCO would complicate matters for both of you. Perhaps there is not even any history of violence between you two and the police responded to a one time argument that unfortunately went too far. So, yes, it has happened that the alleged victim doesn’t want the NCO either. But, remember that it is not the victim who is prosecuting you. It is the state. Although the victim will be listened to and has a voice in the court it is still generally decided to issue an NCO until the case is resolved. So you will still want to follow what it says. It is the Judge, and not the alleged victim, who is ordering you to not have contact. Is is no defense that the alleged victim allowed or even initiated the contact.
What if the alleged victim contacts you? This is one of the more ticklish areas of the law. The NCO stops you from contacting the victim. It does not stop them from trying to contact you. If you respond you will be found in violation of the NCO. In fact, it has been known to happen that some people that know this fact have tried to use the NCO as a weapon – they contact the defendant and then call the police when the defendant responds. So please protect yourself. If you are contacted do not respond. Do mention every instance that it happens to your defense attorney – if it looks like there is probable entrapment going on, it could possibly be useful for your defense.
How will you get your belonging? Should you just send a friend or family member? That might still be construed as an NCO violation, as you are prohibited from having contact through a third party as well, so it is inadvisable. What you will want to discuss with your defense attorney is the possibility of a civil standby order. It allows you to go to your residence with police escort to pick up your belongings. It only usually allows for 15-20 minutes so you will want to be prepared with a list of necessities and locations so you can be quick. The alleged victim is allowed to be present and any disagreements of ownership will at this point be given in favor of the person still at the residence. Please get one of these orders before trying to get anything from your home and then please follow its conditions. Compliance in current court orders looks good in the court’s eyes and makes the job of your Pierce County / Tacoma domestic violence defense attorney that much easier.
Please get counsel as to how to proceed. Call Smith & White, PLLC – the first consultation is free.