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Violation of Protection Orders: Legal Consequences in Washington

The legal consequences of violating an order of protection in Washington will vary depending on the facts of the situation. It is important to realize that you can get charged with a crime if you contact or respond to contact from the petitioner, even if they tell you that they have dropped the order of protection. You must follow all the terms of the order unless it gets terminated through the court.

This blog talks about violations of protection orders: legal consequences in Washington. You could get a criminal record, go to jail or prison, have to pay thousands of dollars in fines, and have to participate in electronic monitoring if found guilty of violating an order of protection. You will want to talk to a Washington criminal defense attorney as soon as possible if you think you might face accusations of violating an order of protection.

The Washington Statute on Violations of Orders of Protection

RCW 7.105.450 Enforcement and penalties – other than antiharassment protection orders and extreme risk protection orders– are the Washington statutes that apply to allegations of the violation of orders of protection. This statute says that violating an order of protection can be a gross misdemeanor or a class C felony, depending on the facts of the situation. The respondent must know about the existence of the order of protection before being found guilty of violating it.

If a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that a person has violated an order of protection that they knew about, the office can arrest the respondent and take them into custody. A warrant is not required for an arrest in this situation. In addition to the penalties for gross misdemeanors and class C felonies, a violation of an order of protection can be considered contempt of court, which can come with separate penalties.

When the Violation of an Order of Protection in Washington State Is a Class C Felony

The violation of an order of protection in our state can be a class C felony in these situations:

  • The violation of the protection order does not constitute first or second-degree assault; 
  • The conduct was reckless and caused “a substantial risk of death or serious physical harm to another person;” or
  • The offender has two previous convictions for violating a protection order. Those previous convictions could involve the same victim or different victims.

Class C felonies are punishable by confinement in prison for up to 5 years and fines of as much as $10,000. The violator can be required to submit to electronic monitoring. The specific acts of violation could get charged as other crimes that can carry additional penalties.

When the Violation of an Order of Protection Washington State Is a Gross Misdemeanor

When the violation of an order of protection does not meet the elements of a class C felony, it can be a gross misdemeanor. For example, the mere act of responding to a text from the person protected by the order could be a violation that is a gross misdemeanor. 

Courts in Washington State can impose penalties of jail time up to one year, a fine of up to $5,000, or both jail time and a fine. Also, the judge can order electronic monitoring. Getting convicted of violating an order of protection can have a significant negative impact on your life. You do not want to try to handle this situation on your own like a DIY project. Washington criminal defense attorney Jennifer Horwitz could help you pursue the best possible outcome in your circumstances.