When you have been charged with domestic violence (DV) in the state of Washington, it’s a serious crime and the repercussions need to be addressed. Though women are still more likely to be victims of domestic violence with 85 percent, take note that 15 percent of victims are men. Not all acts of domestic violence are reported to authorities, and not all reported cases are domestic violence, but if the 911 call is made and the courts get involved, the penalties can be severe with life-long consequences. A domestic violence order of protection is a civil order that provides protection from harm by a family or household member. These relationships include:
- Former Spouses
- Biological Parents, Regardless of Marriage or Living Together
- Adults Related By Blood or Marriage
- Adults Residing Together Currently or in The Past
- Persons 16 of Age or Older Presently Residing Together or Have Resided Together and Have Had a Dating Relationship
- Persons 16 of Age or Older Who Has or Has Had a Dating Relationship
- Persons Who Have a Biological or Legal Parent-Child Relationship, Including Stepparents and Stepchildren and Grandparents and Grandchildren.
One or more of the following things must occur to be considered DV:
- Physical Harm
- Bodily Injury
- Sexual Assault
- Making a Victim Fear Immediate Harm
The above list may include many types of abusive behaviors such as pushing, hitting, slapping, biting, choking and other methods of conduct that cause harm or puts the victim in fear of being hurt. TYPES OF PROTECTION ORDERS Although people commonly refer to all orders preventing contact as restraining orders, the type of order that is issued will depend upon who initiates the order as well as the relationship between the accuser and the accused. There are various types of protection orders for Washington State. The types of protection orders are as followed:
- Domestic Violence Protection Order – issued as a civil remedy for a person who is claiming to be the victim of domestic violence. These types of orders are issued at the request of the alleged victim. An accusation of domestic violence can sometimes be enough evidence for a judge to issue a DV protection order.
- No Contact Orders – can be issued as a condition of a criminal case. For example, if you are accused of assault, the court can issue a no contact order protecting the alleged victim, including children, and preventing you from making contact in person, through another person or through phone/email/social media.
- Anti-Harassment Order – a civil order that can be issued as a remedy for a person claiming any type of harassment. Anti-harassment orders are commonly sought in neighbor disputes and other disputes that don’t involve a domestic relationship.
- Restraining Order – temporary and permanent orders are normally filed as part of an existing family law case, such as a divorce proceeding or child custody case.
VIOLATION OF COURT PROTECTION ORDERS If you violate a court order in Washington it becomes a criminal offense. In a criminal trial, the prosecutor must prove that (1) an order was in place AND (2) the violator knew about the order AND (3) the violator engaged in any type of prohibited contact. The criminal penalties for a violation of an order will be considered a gross misdemeanor if the contact did not involve an assault and if the accused does not have two prior convictions for violating an order. This means that there will be a potential sentence of 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. If the contact involved assault or the accused has two or more prior violation convictions, the offense will be raised to a Class C Felony. This means that there will be a maximum sentence of five years in jail and a $10,000 fine. Image Courtesy Wikimedia Creative Commons When a court order is violated in Washington State, the wishes of the alleged victim become irrelevant to the court. Even if the contact was consensual or initiated by the victim, it can still result in a criminal conviction. There is no law that prevents the victim from initiating contact with the defendant, but the defendant can face heavy penalties and jail time if they have contact with the victim, even at their request. If you are being accused of committing any crime against a person that fits under the domestic violence law, you should immediately contact a Washington State domestic violence attorney. It is definitely not in your best favor to attempt to represent yourself when facing serious charges against you that can mark you for life. You need to hire an experienced domestic violence lawyer that can protect you and your rights by representing you against the prosecutor’s office, and defending your case before the court.