Violations of Protection Orders
Washington protection orders can be put in place for a variety of reasons, including domestic violence. A protection order may order you not to threaten someone, order you not to go into the residence of someone against whom you perpetrated domestic violence, give your co-parent temporary custody of your kids, order you to leave a shared residence, schedule visitation with minors, or order you to go to counseling. A protection order is usually for a term of 1-5 years, with an option for the victim to renew if they continue to feel threatened. If you are charged with a violation of a protection order in Washington, the consequences can be severe. At Smith & White, our Tacoma domestic violence lawyers can explore your case and any defenses that may be available.
Protection orders can include many different provisions. They may require no contact or peaceful contact. They can include a stay away or move out provision. They may require you to surrender any guns that you possess and stop you from buying firearms. They can also affect your ability to see your children, current romantic partners, pets, and others who may not be direct victims of domestic violence.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.Gross Misdemeanors
Under RCW 26.50.110, violations of certain provisions of a protection order are gross misdemeanors. These provisions include provisions that prohibit acts or threats of violence against a protected party, provisions that exclude someone from a school, workplace, residence, or daycare, provisions stopping someone from knowingly coming within a particular distance of a location, a provision prohibiting interference with a protected party’s efforts to remove a pet kept by the petitioner or the subject of the order, and a provision of a foreign protection order explicitly stating that a violation would be a crime.
If you are convicted, the court can require you to be electronically monitored. The court will identify the service provider for the monitoring and determine the terms of monitoring. It may require you to pay the costs of monitoring, although it will consider your ability to pay. It will impose a fine of $15, along with other penalties and fines, if you violated a domestic violence protection order. The money from the fine will be sent monthly to be deposited into a domestic violence prevention account.
You can be arrested without a warrant and put in custody when a peace officer has probable cause to think that you violated an order. The prosecuting attorney will need to show that there was a valid order in place, you were given valid notice, and you made the contact that was prohibited, whether the contact was direct or indirect.
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.Retain a Tacoma Attorney Experienced in Protection Orders
If you are charged with a violation of a protection order, you should retain a skillful criminal defense lawyer. At Smith & White, we defend people in the Tacoma area and elsewhere in Pierce, King, Kitsap, and Thurston Counties. Contact us at (253) 203-1645 or through our online form.