February 2, 2016 Melissa

Protection Orders in Washington State

“I need a Restraining Order!” This is commonly heard when one is seeking a court order for protection, but it is a frequently misused term. A “Restraining Order” is one kind of court order, but there are a number of different types of protection orders used to prevent contact that may be harassing or abusive.

Protection orders are put in place to prevent contact between two people. Contact may involve physical or personal contact, phone or text contact, email or social media contact, or communication through a third party. In many cases, protection orders also involve remaining a certain distance away from someone’s home, school, or place of employment.

It is important to be aware of the different types of protection orders that are available in the event that you are ever in a position where you either need to seek one or must defend against one brought by another party. The following is a brief description and comparison of orders in Washington State.

*Domestic Violence Protection Order: This is a civil order from the court issued at the request of a person claiming to be the victim of domestic violence. See Washington State Legislature regarding Domestic Violence Prevention (Chapter 26.50 RCW)

  • Who may obtain the order:
    • An adult who fears violence from a family or household member, or who has been the victim or physical harm, or who fears imminent physical harm or stalking from a family or household member (includes dating relationship).
    • Minors under 16 must seek the order through a parent or guardian
    • Petitioners 13 years old or over may petition for self if respondent is 16 or over and person has been victim of violence in a dating relationship
    • Petitioners 16-18 may seek the order on their own.
  • Consequences if order is knowingly violated:
    • Mandatory arrest; Possible criminal charges or contempt; Class C felony if assault or reckless endangerment, otherwise Gross Misdemeanor
  • Duration of order:
    • If there is an emergency, a temporary order for up to 14 days may be issued. A hearing will be set within 14 days and the Respondent will be given notice of the hearing. At the hearing the court will designate the length of the order, from one year to permanent.

*Sexual Assault Protection Order: This is a civil or criminal court order issued in the context of pending criminal action, or as a condition of sentence. (RCW 7.90)

  • Who may obtain the order:
    • A person who does not qualify for a Domestic Violence Protection order and is a victim of nonconsensual sexual conduct or penetration, including a single incident.
    • Minors under age 16 must seek the order through a parent or guardian.
    • The court may issue an order on behalf of victims of sex offenses when criminal charges are filed.
  • Consequences if order is knowingly violated:
    • Mandatory arrest; Possible criminal charges or contempt; Class C felony if assault or reckless endangerment, otherwise Gross Misdemeanor
  • Duration of order:
    • Temporary order may be filed for up to 14 days; Court will designate the length of the order (up to two years for civil, potentially longer for criminal)

*No-Contact Order: This order is part of a criminal action. After an arrest for domestic violence, in Washington State, a No-Contact Order may be issued as a condition of release. These orders may be issued regardless of whether you share housing or children, and may cause hardship.

  • Who may obtain the order:
    • An incident must have been reported to the police and criminal charges must be pending. The court will decide whether to issue this order when it decides whether the accused will be released on bail or personal recognizance, or when the accused is arraigned or being sentenced.
  • Consequences if order is knowingly violated:
    • Mandatory arrest; Release pending trial may be revoked. Felony if any assault, reckless endangerment or drive-by-shooting, otherwise Gross Misdemeanor.
  • Duration of order:
    • This order is intended to protect the victim until the case is resolved. The order may be dismissed or modified by the court during proceedings, or may be continued by the court after the case resolved. The alleged victim does not control whether the order remains in place but must support it if the order is to be lifted.

*Restraining Order: This is a civil order, generally filed in the context of an existing family law case, such as a pending dissolution or child custody case (RCW 26.09, 26.10, 26.26). This type of order is broader than a Domestic Violence Protection order because it may deal with property issues, child support, spousal support, as well as domestic violence and temporary custody issues.

  • Who may obtain the order:
    • Petitioner who is married to Respondent or has a child in common
  • Consequences if order is knowingly violated:
    • Mandatory arrest; Gross Misdemeanor; Possible criminal charges or contempt
  • Duration of order:
    • Temporary Restraining Order lasts 14 days; Restraining Order in final decree is permanent unless modified

*Anti-Harassment Order: This is a civil order issued for a person claiming any type of harassment and when a person does not qualify for a Domestic Violence Protection Order. These orders are commonly filed in neighbor disputes and other disputes that don’t involve a domestic relationship (RCW 10.14)

  • Who may obtain the order:
    • A person alleging harassment, who has been seriously alarmed, annoyed, or harassed by conduct which serves no legitimate or lawful purpose; The course of conduct shall be such as would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress
    • Parties generally are not married, have not lived together, and have no children in common.
  • Consequences if order is knowingly violated:
    • Gross Misdemeanor; Discretionary arrest with possible criminal charges or contempt.
  • Duration of order:
    • Temporary order may be up to 14 days; Anti-Harassment Order may then carry a duration of 1 year or permanent, as determined by the court.

*Vulnerable Adult Protection Order: This is a civil order intended to protect a vulnerable adult (RCW 74.34.110)

  • Who may obtain the order:
    • A vulnerable adult, or an interested person on behalf of a vulnerable adult, who has been abandoned, abused, subject to financial exploitation, neglected, or threatened.
    • The Dept. of Social and Health Services may also obtain an order on behalf of a vulnerable adult
  • Consequences if order is knowingly violated:
    • Mandatory arrest; Possible criminal charges or contempt; Class C felony if assault or reckless endangerment, otherwise Gross Misdemeanor
  • Duration of order:
    • Temporary order be may up to 14 days; Vulnerable Adult Protection Order duration to be designated by the court for a fixed period not to exceed 5 years.

*Stalking Protection Order vs Stalking No-Contact Order: Stalking Protection Order is civil; Stalking No-Contact Order is criminal, in the context of pending criminal action. See definitions for stalking (RCW 9A.46.110)

  • Who may obtain the order:
    • A person may file a Stalking Protection Order if they are the victim of any stalking conduct (RCW 9A.46.110). Parent or guardian may petition on behalf of any minor. A petitioner 16 years and older may file for themselves and is not required to have a guardian to petition on their behalf. Interested person may petition on behalf of a vulnerable adult.
    • For a Stalking No-Contact Order, an incident must have been reported to the police and stalking related criminal charges must be pending. The court may issue the order.
  • Consequences if order is knowingly violated:
    • For both stalking related orders, consequences for violation include mandatory arrest, possible criminal charges or contempt; Class C felony if assault or reckless endangerment, otherwise Gross Misdemeanor
  • Duration of order:
    • Stalking Protection Order: 14 days for a temporary order; Stalking Protection Order duration is then determined by the court for a fixed period of time or permanent
    • Stalking No-Contact Order: 5 years for a final Stalking No-Contact

Legal Representation:

If you are seeking protection or find yourself falsely accused of actions by a party seeking an order against you, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible. A knowledgeable, skilled attorney will help you to understand your rights and options and will assist you in planning your next course of action. Contact our experienced attorneys at Dellino Law Group immediately.  We will help you determine how best to proceed, taking into account your unique situation.

Contact Dellino Law Group

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