The Washington legislature and court system take domestic violence seriously and employ several procedures to prevent parties involved in domestic disputes from coming into contact with one another. One way of preventing contact between an alleged victim of domestic violence and the accused is to issue a court order prohibiting the accused from being in places at the same time as the alleged victim. Violation of a no-contact order is punishable by criminal prosecution.
If you are charged with violation of an order of protection in Seattle or King County, Jennifer Horwitz Law can protect your rights in both criminal and civil court. A compassionate attorney, Jennifer understands the unique nature of domestic relationships and applies this understanding to every client she represents.
Domestic Violence and Protection Orders
Domestic violence is a category of behaviors that are harmful to people in our households and families. While domestic violence, on its own, is not a crime, the behaviors that constitute domestic violence are crimes. Those behaviors or acts generally include causing bodily harm, threats of bodily injury, sexual assault, stalking, or harassment. For an act to classify as domestic violence, these behaviors must be directed at a partner, family member, or household member.
The Revised Code of Washington allows an alleged victim of domestic violence to petition the courts for a domestic violence order for protection. A domestic violence order of protection is a court order that prevents someone from having contact with the alleged victim of domestic violence. Orders for protection are sometimes called no contact orders because they prevent any contact between an alleged victim and the accused.
A domestic violence order of protection prevents a person accused of domestic violence from coming close to or having contact with the alleged victim. No contact orders often prevent the accused from showing up in a variety of locations where the alleged victim might be, including a home or apartment, a family gathering, a workplace, or a school. Although a domestic violence order of protection is not a criminal order, failing to abide by a no-contact order can have criminal consequences. If you are accused of violating a domestic violence order of protection, attorney Jennifer Horwitz can represent you on any criminal charges stemming from the purported violation.
Criminal Proceedings in Protection Order Violation Cases
Violating the Order – Having Contact with the Protected Party
If you are accused of having contact with a party protected by a protective order issued by a Washington court or a court of any other state or Canada, you may be arrested. Violations do not require communicating with the protected party. You may be in violation if you are within a certain proximity to the protected party, as limited by the no-contact order. Upon violation, you will then be tried under the criminal court system. The violation of a no-contact order is generally classified as a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in prison and a fine of $5,000.
Violating the Order – Assaulting the Protected Party
If you are accused of violating a no-contact order and assaulting the person protected by the order, you will be tried for criminal assault. An assault resulting from the violation of a domestic violence order of protection is a Class C felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
Multiple Violations of a Protective Order
To prevent multiple violations of a no-contact order, the Revised Code of Washington punishes repeat violations more severely. If you have two prior convictions for violating a domestic violence order of protection, regardless of who is protected, you may be convicted of a Class C felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Upon violation, you will also be in contempt of court, which means you disobeyed a direct court order. If the party protected by a no-contact order informs the court of a violation, the judge will issue an order to show cause why you should not be held in contempt of court. After a hearing, where you may defend yourself, the judge may issue additional sanctions or punishment for violating the court order on top of criminal punishment. Punishment may come in the form of fines, jail time, or any other sanction issued by the court.
Consult with a Seattle Area Domestic Relations Attorney
Whether you are a victim of domestic violence or crimes involving a domestic relationship or have been accused of domestic violence, attorney Jennifer Horwitz has over 25 years of experience representing clients on both sides of this domestic issue. Knowledgeable of both the criminal and civil laws involved in domestic cases, Jennifer has experience representing both victims and the accused in criminal and civil proceedings. If you experience an issue with the enforcement of a domestic violence order of protection in Seattle or King County, contact Jennifer Horwitz Law to discuss your case today.