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Limiting The Consequences Of Domestic Violence Protection Orders

As a companion to criminal charges of domestic assault, a person accused of domestic violence will commonly be subjected to temporary or permanent protection orders. These orders can kick you out of your own home, prevent reconciliation with the alleged victim and cut you off from your children. You may also be prevented from possessing firearms, which could affect the career of military service members. And violating the terms of a protection order can lead to further legal trouble and loss of rights.

The attorneys of The Law Offices of Smith & White, PLLC, have extensive experience with domestic violence defense, including fighting protection orders and defense for alleged violations of those orders. We take a proactive approach to minimize the impact on your life of both the court orders and the criminal allegations.

Protection Orders In Washington State

A domestic violence protection order is issued to protect the alleged victim from the threat of violence or controlling behavior. There are various types of protection orders for different situations, such as a family law restraining order for parties in a divorce proceeding and special protections for victims of sexual abuse or child abuse.

Two of the most common – and most serious – types of orders in a domestic violence situation are the Domestic Violence No-Contact Criminal Order and the Extreme Risk Protection Order.

  • A no-contact order makes it illegal to contact, threaten or intimidate the alleged victim in any way. The defendant may also be ordered to stay away from their residence or other locations such as the victim’s workplace.
  • An extreme risk protection order may be invoked when domestic violence involves use of a weapon. These are orders obtained by family or household members to stop someone who is at high risk of harming them from having access to firearms if they can show that the person presents a substantial danger. The police can also get this type of court order.

Challenging A Domestic Violence Protection Order

No-contact orders and protection orders are typically granted ex parte by a judge. These are temporary orders issued on short notice or emergency basis on the word of the alleged victim and/or at the recommendation of law enforcement personnel. The subject of a domestic violence protection order does not get any input into temporary orders, or any notice before they are served with the court order.

However, there will be an opportunity to oppose a permanent protection order or modify the terms. It is critical to assert this right, as protection orders are typically issued for one to five years, with an option for the victim to renew if they continue to feel threatened. The court will set a hearing, usually within 10 days after the date of the temporary order, to hear arguments for and against continuing the no-contact order or protection order.

At Smith & White, we know that claims of domestic violence are often exaggerated or fabricated, and that protection orders based on false allegations can be weaponized by the alleged victim to get the defendant in more trouble. Our attorneys have succeeded in terminating unfounded domestic violence protection orders, sparing clients from the oppressive restrictions. We have also convinced judges to limit the parameters of protection orders where the threat of violence is overstated or the order would cause undue hardship for our clients. The evidence presented at a protection order hearing and the outcome can also factor into the criminal domestic assault proceedings and related family court proceedings. We defend our client against the full ramifications.

Violations of Protection Orders

You can be subject to mandatory arrest for a violation of a protection order if you violate a restraint stating that you cannot cause or threaten harm or if you violate an order restraining you from going into the residence, school, workplace, or daycare of children or other areas that you have been ordered to vacate or from which you have been ordered to stay away. You can face Class C felony charges and contempt of court charges for these violations. An arrest is also mandatory for domestic violence when an officer has probable cause to believe that an assault has occurred in the prior four hours. This is true even when there has been no protection order in place.

It is important to realize that you can be arrested even if the victim invited or asked you to violate prohibitions included in the order. The order is from the court, rather than the victim, and the court will adjudicate the violation. You are responsible for avoiding or refraining from violations. The victim needs to get a court order modifying or terminating a protection order if he or she wishes for it to be modified or no longer in place.

A violation of a no-contact order is usually charged as a gross misdemeanor. This means that you can be sentenced to up to one year in jail and fined up to $5,000. You can be charged with a class C felony if it happened through an act of reckless endangerment or assault, or if you have two or more prior convictions for similar violations, in which case you can be punished with up to five years of imprisonment and up to $10,000 in fines.

Protection Orders And Firearms

If you are subject to a protective order that restrains you from stalking, threatening, or harassing an intimate partner or their child, you are also not allowed to possess a gun in Washington. The protective order must have been issued after a hearing for which notice was given, and you must represent a credible threat to your intimate partner or their child. The protective order can be a sexual assault protection order, a domestic violence protection order, a restraining order in a situation in which parental rights and child support were adjudicated, an anti-stalking protection order, an anti-harassment protection order, or a no-contact order for this law to apply. Intimate partners in Washington are spouses, former spouses, domestic partners, co-parents, or current or former dating partners with whom you have lived. This law also requires the court to prohibit you from buying or possessing firearms or a concealed carry license. You are supposed to surrender your firearms or licenses and file a proof that you surrendered them with the court.

The Impact Of A Domestic Violence Conviction On Gun Rights

Domestic violence occurs when crimes are committed against family or household members. These are spouses, ex-spouses, people parenting a child in common, blood relatives, relatives by marriage, people living together who are at least 16, or people with a biological or legal parent-child relationship.

The court will take away your right to possess a firearm if you are convicted of domestic violence. This is a permanent removal unless you successfully petition the court for reinstatement of the right. There is no exception for people who need to carry firearms for a job. In other words, you can lose your right to carry firearms, even if you are a police officer or a military service member. Under RCW 9.41.047, the court is supposed to let you know in writing and verbally of your duty to surrender a concealed pistol license.

Unlawful Possession Of A Firearm In the Second Degree

Under RCW 9.41.040, you can be found guilty of the crime of illegal possession of a firearm in the first degree if you own, have in your possession, or have in your control any firearm after first having been convicted in Washington or elsewhere. This is a class B felony. You can face up to 10 years in a state correctional institution and be fined up to $20,000.

You can be found guilty of illegal possession of a firearm in the second degree if you are found in possession of a firearm and have been convicted in Washington or anywhere else of certain crimes perpetrated by one family or household member against another. These include fourth-degree assault, stalking, coercion, reckless endangerment, first-degree criminal trespass, or violating provisions of a protection or no-contact order. This is a Class C felony. You can face up to five years in a state correctional institution or be fined up to $10,000, or both. Since this type of illegal possession of a firearm is related to domestic violence, you will also be subject to the removal of your right to carry firearms. There is no exception for people who use weapons as part of their job, so if you are a police officer or a military service member, the conviction can force you to change your career.

Get Our Experienced Defense Lawyers On Your Side

If you were charged with domestic violence, your future may depend on your hiring a skillful criminal defense lawyer, especially if you rely on firearms for your career. Based in Tacoma, Smith & White represents people throughout Pierce, King, Kitsap, and Thurston counties, including military personnel stationed in the Tacoma and Seattle area. Call us at 253-363-8662 or complete our online form.