What Happens When Violation of a Protection Order Occurs
A protection order is a court order that provides a person, known as a petitioner, protection from another person. The order prohibits the other person, known as the respondent, from using violence or the threat of violence against the petitioner. It also prohibits the respondent from molesting or putting the petitioner in fear.
Since a protection order primarily protects the petitioner from being contacted or harmed by the respondent, violation of a protection order can result in either criminal prosecution or a civil liability suit.
If you have been charged with violation of a protection order, you need to contact an attorney immediately or you risk spending time in jail. At The Curtis Firm, we have a firm grasp of how a conviction can negatively impact a person's life and we fight aggressively to make sure that our clients do not end up in jail.
With experience of over a decade as a former Pierce County Deputy Prosecutor, Attorney James Curtis has the skills to help you. He is very familiar with prosecution tactics and will use this knowledge to your advantage.
Types of protection orders
A protection order may be a temporary order which a judge intends to stay in effect for thirty days. It could also be an extended order that prolongs the initial protection order for up to one year.
It could also be a civil or criminal order. A civil order is usually requested by an individual that feels threatened by another person. A criminal order is usually requested by the State of Washington through a prosecutor, often during a criminal case. There are different types of protection orders. They are as follows:
- Domestic Violence Protection Order: This is a civil order. It may be requested by a person who is experiencing some form of physical harm, stalking or sexual assault. It could also be filed by a person that fears imminent harm from a family or household member. It can be in place for about a year or permanently.
- Stalking Protection Order: This is a civil order filed by a person that is being stalked by someone who is not a family or household member. It includes being intentionally and repeatedly harassed by another person, to the extent that the harassed person becomes afraid for him/herself. The Washington state laws also allow this order to be granted for cyberstalking. The order can be in place for a year or permanently.
- Anti-harassment Protection Order: This is a civil order filed by a person who has been harassed, alarmed or annoyed by another person. It can be in place for a year or permanently.
- Sexual Assault Protection Order: This is a civil order filed by a person that is experiencing non-consensual sexual conduct by someone who is not a family or household member. It can also be in place for a year or on a more permanent basis.
- Vulnerable Adult Protection Order: This civil order is filed by a vulnerable adult, a guardian or “interested third party” against a person that is accused of abandonment, abuse, financial exploitation or neglect. A vulnerable adult is one who is 60 years old or older who is unable to care for him/herself. A vulnerable adult could also be any adult of any age that has developmental disabilities or who receives care whether in a facility or at home. The protection order can be in place for up to five years.
- Restraining Order: This is a civil order filed as part of a family law case. It could be granted in a dissolution, divorce or legal separation. It can be in place temporarily or on a permanent basis.
- No Contact Orders: These are issued in criminal cases involving domestic violence. They prohibit a defendant from contacting victims of or witnesses to the crime of domestic violence. It can be issued whether a victim or witness wants it or not, and it can be in place as long as the case is in court.
- Harassment No Contact Orders: These are issued in cases of criminal harassment to prohibit a defendant from contacting victims or witnesses to a crime. It can also be issued in spite of the victim or witness's objection and can be in place throughout the duration of the case.
When does violation of a protection order occur?
A protection order is violated when the terms stated in the order are violated or disregarded. In Washington, a complaint for violation of a protection order can be filed when there is proof that:
- There was a valid order in place
- The offender was given valid notice of the order
- The prohibited contact was made either directly or indirectly. The order could also be deemed violated even if the protected person did not object to the contact or even when they requested the contact.
The protection order is enforced under all circumstances unless the person who filed for the order terminates the order.
Penalties for violation of a protection order
When a protection order is violated, the violation amounts to a gross misdemeanour. This will only the case though if the violation was not an assault. There must also be no previous convictions for violating similar orders. The penalties for a gross misdemeanour violation are:
- Jail time of up to 1 year and a $5,000 fine.
- Compulsory treatment for domestic violence
- Loss of the right to possess firearms
- Restrictions to travel
If the violation of the protection order involved an assault or if there were two previous convictions for similar violations, it would be a Class C felony. The penalty in this instance is up to five years in jail, a $10,000 fine, or both. Community service and community supervision could also be a part of the punishment.
How can a Tacoma Criminal Defense Lawyer help you?
When you get in touch with a skilled lawyer immediately you are charged, your lawyer may be able to get the charges reduced or dismissed. Any one of the following defenses may be raised:
- The protection order was invalid
- The defendant was not aware of the protection order
- The defendant did not, in fact, make any contact with the protected person or petitioner.
Defending a violation of a protection order charge can be tricky though and you need to retain the services of a skilled domestic violence attorney.
At The Curtis Firm, we have the skill and the proven track record to defend you properly.. We will fight for your rights and serve as your advocates during the entire legal process, from your arrest through the trial.
Call 253-327-1063 to book a free consultation or visit our offices at 1216 Martin Luther King Jr Way Suite 1 Tacoma, WA 98405.