Courts have authority under Washington law to grant civil and criminal protective orders prohibiting a person from contacting an alleged victim or related individuals, from being within a certain distance of the alleged victim’s person or property, or from other specified activities. Protective orders constitute a significant restriction on a defendant’s liberty, and violation of an order can bring serious consequences, including additional criminal charges and jail time. An experienced order of protection attorney can help defend you against a request for or violation of a protective order, and can help you understand your rights and restrictions if an order is in place.

Allegation of Domestic Violence

All protective orders must originate from an accusation of domestic violence. In the case of a civil protective order, the petitioner must present an affidavit to the court identifying specific facts and circumstances that allegedly constitute domestic violence. A criminal protective order must be part of an existing charge for a domestic violence-related offense. An alleged victim may ask the prosecutor to request a no-contact protective order from the court, or a prosecutor may request one on the prosecutor’s own initiative.

Hearing on Protective Order

After receiving a petition for a civil protective order, the court must schedule a hearing within fourteen days. The court may issue an ex parte protective order that remains in effect until the hearing date. The respondent must receive personal service of the petition, and should therefore have notice of the petition and the hearing date, as well as the opportunity to present evidence in his or her defense. Hearings take place in superior, district, or municipal court, usually in the county where the petitioner resides.

Hearings on criminal protective orders typically take place at the defendant’s arraignment. The court that is hearing the criminal charge against the defendant may also hear the prosecutor’s request for a protective order.

Issuance of Protective Order

Protective orders should be in writing, and the law directs the court that imposes a protective order to issue a written order as soon as possible. For both civil and criminal protective orders, the written order should clearly identify all restrictions placed on the respondent or defendant. Protective orders may include an expiration date, or they may expire at some specified but undetermined point in time. Civil orders may expire after a period of months, or until the court enters another order. Criminal orders remain in effect until an acquittal or dismissal of charges, or until the court revokes or modifies the order.

Protective Order Violations

Violations of protective orders can have serious consequences, even if the violation was not intentional. Contact with a protected person, either in person or via telephone or other communications device, may constitute a violation. Entering onto protected property would normally be considered a violation. For civil protective orders, a violation could lead to a contempt finding, meaning a monetary fine or jail time. A violation of a criminal protective order may bring further jail time and could adversely affect the underlying criminal case. A protective order violation is itself a form of “domestic violence,” according to the Washington Criminal Procedure Code’s definition of the term.

If you have been charged with a domestic violence-related criminal offense in Tacoma, Bellevue or Renton, an experienced criminal attorney can help. For more than 20 years, we have protected the rights of defendants in criminal cases throughout Washington. Contact us today for your confidential case evaluation, or call (888) 212-4824