Washington State Domestic Violence Protection Orders, Anti-Harassment Protection Order, Sexual Assault Protection Orders and Vulnerable Adult Protection Orders can provide vital protection for individuals in potential danger of violence from others. However, at the other end of the scale, an alleged victim can also use these orders as a weapon or further harassment by making false claims and restraining your freedom and 2nd Amendment rights.
If any kind of Protection Order is granted against someone (commonly called the respondent):
- The Court’s order and the Petition become public record for anyone to read. They are also entered into a database that all Washington State Law Enforcement personnel have access to.
- A court will enter an Order that limits behavior or actions and the police will come and consider arresting an offending party if it is claimed that they violated any aspect of the order.
- Violating a Protection Order is a Crime RCW 26.50.110, RCW 10.14.120. Any violation is automatically a gross misdemeanor, and if the violation includes assaultive behavior, it can be a felony.
- Under certain circumstances, where it is claimed that a firearm or dangerous weapon was used, displayed, or threatened, Protection Orders can take away that weapon and any associated permits to carry them. RCW 9.41.800.
As to each type of order, there are specific remedies, including but not limited to:
- Domestic Violence Protection Orders can exclude you from the dwelling that the parties share, from the residence, workplace, or school of the filing party, or from the day care or school of a child. They can be filed in non-intimate relationships, such as roommates or landlord tenant relationships if you share a room. They can prevent you from knowingly coming within, or knowingly remaining within, a specified distance from a specified location, including your own house. You must turn over all firearms, ammunition and concealed permit to the police department.
- Anti-Harassment Protection Orders are granted in situations where the parties are not related, not sharing a dwelling or in a non-domestic violence situation. These are normally granted in neighbor disputes, business relationships or friendships gone bad. The law gives judges broad authority to do what they think is proper. At minimum, this can include preventing you from making any attempt to contact the prevailing party, keep the prevailing party under surveillance and stay a certain distance from the prevailing party’s residence or workplace. Violation is a crime.
- Sexual Assault Protection Orders, commonly called SAPO Orders are powerful Orders that give the judge broad authority to prevent the offending party from having any contact, including nonphysical contact, with the offended party directly, indirectly, or through third parties regardless of whether those third parties know of the order. Sexual Assault Protection Orders can prevent the offending party from being at the petitioner’s residence, workplace, or school, or from the day care or school of a child, if the victim is a child. These Orders can also prevent the offending party from knowingly coming within, or knowingly remaining within, a specified distance from a specified location; and, lastly, these Orders give the judge any other injunctive relief as necessary or appropriate for the protection of the petitioner. These orders usually stem from unwanted sexual contact with a party and are sometimes a prelude to serious criminal charges. Great care must be taken when dealing with these orders.
- Vulnerable Adult Protection Orders allow a judge to order the relief deemed necessary including: (1) Restraining the offending party from committing acts of abandonment, abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation against the vulnerable adult; (2) Excluding the offending party from the vulnerable adult’s residence for a specified period or until further order of the court; (3) Prohibiting contact with the vulnerable adult by the offending party for a specified period or until further order of the court; (4) Prohibiting the offending party from knowingly coming within, or knowingly remaining within, a specified distance from a specified location; (5) Requiring an accounting by the offending party for the disposition of the vulnerable adult’s income or other resources; (6) Restraining the transfer of the offending party’s and/or vulnerable adult’s property for a specified period not exceeding ninety days; and (7) Requiring the offending party to pay a filing fee and court costs, including service fees, and to reimburse the person bringing the action for costs incurred in bringing the action, including a reasonable attorney’s fee. Any relief granted by an order of protection, other than a judgment for costs, shall be for a fixed period not to exceed five years. RCW 74.34.130.
These Protection Orders can be filed out of anger, revenge, malice, mental health issues, drug problems, control, or harassment. Parties can file protection orders bases on misstatements, exaggerations and false accusations to establish control in and out of the courtroom. Though we have general advice on how to Fight Protection Orders, when protection orders are predominately based on exaggeration and false accusations, it takes a lot more experience and work to prevail, and this must be done in a short time frame.
With the Domestic Violence Protection and Sexual Assault Protection Orders, a person can immediately lose their gun rights. They will be required to turn their firearms and/or concealed permit into the police department. Mere possession of firearms, ammunition and concealed permit could lead to criminal charges. You could lose these rights for up to a year or more.
Even if firearm possession is not a primary concern, there are other consequences of allowing a protection order to remain in place. Many rental companies will not lease an apartment or home to you. Background checks may indicate you are subject to a protection order and you may lose out on that job or volunteer opportunity.
Victims who initiate contact can get you arrested
These orders prohibit contact one-way only. In other words, the person who initiated the order can still approach, call, or otherwise contact an alleged abuser, who has the responsibility to immediately stop the contact or face possible violation charges. In abuse cases, police often choose to err on the side of the victim. You could be arrested, even if the protected party is continuing the communication.
Dealing with the contents of these orders
Why would the other party do this? What motivates the other party? What facts are not distorted, which ones are? What is the whole story? How is a judge or third party likely to understand it? What evidence is available? How can it be gotten? How do you and your lawyer best lay out your case to defeat the protection order? Are there any witnesses or video footage or digital evidence? The ability to rapidly investigate and secure favorable evidence is the key to winning these cases. Thoroughly investigated and prepared cases tend to win more than cases that are not.
Defending your freedoms
The allegations must be thoroughly investigated. No stone is left unturned. Many times the accusations of the initiating party are vague and generic. The filing of the order is often done months after the alleged incident occurred. The filing usually follows a dispute with the responding party (divorce, argument, break up or death in the family). These types of situations raise a red flag and require the expertise of an attorney.
We have seen strong accusations crumble under a thorough investigation and vigorous defense. We will take the time to properly prepare and then know when to speak, when to wait and when to be aggressive. Cases are won and lost on facts but they can also be won and lost based on the quality of the lawyering. Do not blow these orders off. They can come back and haunt you in the future. Get help.
Call Crary, Clark, Domanico & Chuang, P.S. for a vigorous defense.
Entrust us to represent you. Over the course of our lengthy legal careers we have litigated and fought a wide variety of complicated and emotionally tangled disputes, familial disputes, abuse, harassment and sexual behavior cases in the legal arena. We fully understand what is at stake here. But you must contact us immediately, as these protection orders are difficult to overturn on appeal. You have a much better chance to prevail at the trial level. Protect your rights and protect your future. Call use today for a free consultation.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: Can a protected party still contact me, even after a protection order is granted?
Yes- it’s a one way order. There is nothing prohibiting the protected party from contacting you. In fact, it is a crime to respond to that person if there is a valid protection order.
Q: We have kids in common, what can I do so I can see my kids?
As long as the protection order does not list the kids as a protected party, you may contact them. BEWARE- you cannot have contact with the other person. You cannot even ask a third party to communicate with the protected party, as that can be a violation of an order. You can’t call the house where the protected person is living, even though they might not answer the phone. These types of situation call for an attorney to advise you on how to proceed.
Q: I was only given two days’ notice for the hearing. Is that right?
Personal service shall be made upon the respondent not less than five court days before the hearing (don’t count weekends or court holidays). RCW 10.14.070; If you didn’t have enough time, the judge must continue the hearing, unless you allow the hearing to go forward, which is never a good idea. But they must also renew the order to accommodate the new hearing date.
Q: Can I get mutual restraining orders?
No- Mutual orders are not allowed, but the court may realign the designation of the parties where the court finds the original petitioner is the perpetrator. RCW 26.50.060 (4) and (5).
Q: Can I lose my guns?
- Court shall require surrender to law enforcement or other person if clear, cogent, and convincing evidence shows use, display, or threat with firearm or other deadly weapon in a felony or ineligibility of respondent to possess a firearm.
- Court may require surrender if the above is shown by a preponderance. RCW 26.50.060 (1)(j), RCW 26.50.070, RCW 9.41.040 and RCW 9.41.800.
Note: Federal firearms prohibition applies when: (1) the person had actual notice of the hearing and an opportunity to be heard;(2) the order restrains the person from harassing, stalking or threatening an intimate partner or child; and either (3) the court finds the person presents a credible threat of harm to the intimate partner or child or (3) the order contains explicit language restraining the person from using, attempting to use or threatening to use physical force against the intimate partner or child.18 USC 922(g)(8). The majority of permanent orders entered will invoke the federal prohibition, but the federal definition of an “intimate partner ” only includes a spouse, former spouse, other parent of a child, or a cohabitant or former cohabitant.18 USC 921(32). Washington protection orders can so be issued in cases involving relatives by blood or marriage and dating relationships.
The cops will show up and ask for all your guns. They will keep them at the police station until you win your case, or if you lo
Q: Should I bring live witnesses to the hearing?
No- generally, the court will not allow witnesses to testify at the hearing. If you are relying on live witnesses testimony for your defense, you will be disappointed and unlikely to prevail. If you want witness testimony, you must provide a properly signed affidavit to the court. It must be signed and dated with the location of signing. However, the court may allow the petitioner and respondent to add additional comments to the court, but that’s about it.