Protection orders need to be taken seriously. If you have been served with a protection order, it is important to know how to proceed. We have highlighted some of the essential steps to take if you are served with a protection order:
- Legal representation: First and foremost, involve legal counsel as quickly as possible. It is essential that you contact a skilled, experienced defense attorney to advise you and represent you at the hearing to review the temporary order. The sooner you involve legal counsel, the more time they will have to thoroughly investigate your case and advocate for your best interests effectively.
- Understand the order: A protection order is something different than a no-contact order and it is separate from any criminal action. A protection order is issued by the court at the request of a person claiming to be a victim of domestic violence or harassment. A temporary order for up to 14 days may be issued. A hearing will be set within 14 days, at which time the court will designate the length of the order, from one year to permanent. Please see our prior blog post for a description and comparison of orders in Washington State (domestic violence protection order, sexual assault protection order, no-contact order, restraining order, anti-harassment order, vulnerable adult protection order, and stalking protection and no-contact orders)
- Know the terms: Read the protection order carefully. You may be restricted from being within a specified distance of the home, workplace, or school of the petitioner. Understand the terms and do NOT go anywhere the protection order forbids you from being.
- Do NOT contact the petitioner: Do not take any chances. Do not approach, write, text, email, or contact the petitioner in any way. Do not contact or attempt to connect with the petitioner through social media outlets, and do not facilitate third party contact. Do not try to apologize or inquire to the petitioner about why they have filed the order. Any contact can be considered a violation and you may face serious consequences.
- Know the consequences: Consequences of violating a protection order include mandatory arrest and may include criminal charges or contempt. These charges can range from gross misdemeanor to class C felony depending upon the situation. You may face up to a year in jail and substantial fines. A protection order is to be taken seriously and it is essential to avoid any willful violations and to take all steps necessary to avoid accidental violations.
You should not try to tackle this without experienced counsel to advise you appropriately and advocate on your behalf.