No Contact Orders
There are several types of no contact orders. There are domestic violence protection orders, anti-harassment orders, sexual assault protection orders, vulnerable adult protection orders and no contact orders issued out of criminal cases as either a condition or release or as a separate order. Violation of any of these orders (except as a condition of release) is a crime.
RCW 26.50 addresses domestic violence protection orders. The “domestic” part refers to family or household members such as spouses, domestic partners, former spouses, former domestic partners, persons who have a child in common, adults related by blood or marriage, adults who have or are residing together, and persons who have a biological or legal parent-child relationship. The “violence” part refers to physical harm, bodily injury, assault or the infliction of fear of imminent harm or injury. It can also mean a sexual assault or stalking.
RCW 10.14.040 addresses anti-harassment orders. Unlawful harassment is a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person which seriously alarms, annoys, harasses, or is detrimental to such person and which serves no legitimate or lawful purpose. It must be such that would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress and shall actually cause substantial emotional distress. A “course of conduct” means a pattern of conduct composed of a series of acts over a period of time, however short, which shows a continuity or purpose.
RCW 7.90 addresses sexual assault protection orders. These orders involve a petition from someone who is the victim of nonconsensual sexual conduct or nonconsensual penetration. It can be a single incident of nonconsensual sexual conduct or penetration. Nonconsensual simply means that lack of freely given agreement.
RCW 74.34.110 addresses vulnerable adult protection orders. These orders involve cases of abandonment, abuse, financial exploitation or neglect of a vulnerable adult. A vulnerable adult is defined by RCW 74.34.020 as a person who is 60 years of age or older or who has the functional, mental, or physical inability to care for themselves, a person found incapacitated, a person who is developmentally disabled, a person admitted to a facility or who receives services from an individual provider or a home health, hospice or home care agency.
Violations of all of these orders is a crime. Usually the violations are gross misdemeanor charges but they can be a felony if an assault took place during the violation or there has been two prior convictions for violating the order. Violation of an order can be done by electronic contact, contact via social media, contact through a third person, contact through the mail or direct contact. It is not a defense that the protected person initiated or allowed the contact. Inadvertent contact is not a violation unless the inadvertent contact results in communication.
Violation of a protection order is difficult to defend against. All that is typically needed is proof the order was served and proof of contact. Although Padula & Associates has successfully litigated charges of violating a no contact order, the best practice is to avoid the contact that would lead to criminal charges. When our clients have orders prohibiting contact against one of our clients, we make sure the client fully understands what they are allowed to do and what they are prohibited from doing.
Defending Against a Petition for a No Contact Order:
If you are served with a petition for a no contact order you are a “respondent”. No contact orders go on your “record’ and can have an adverse effect on your ability to carry a firearm, travel into Canada and other countries, and your ability to obtain certain employment. Do not take a petition for a protection order lightly. Do not assume it will have little or minimal effect on your life. Padula & Associates suggests a vigorous defense and we have successfully fended off hundreds of these petitions for our clients.
It is better to spend money hiring an attorney to fight the issuance of a protection order than to spend money on an attorney to fight criminal charges filed against you for violating a protection order. Lastly, the process to fight against the issuance of a protection order can be complicated. Many people who represent themselves try to combat the order with competing factual allegation. While this is sometimes the only defense, it is important to have an attorney to explore if there is a more simply and effective procedural way to successfully challenge a protection order.
Obtaining a Protection Order:
The courts have specifically designed a simple process for obtaining the appropriate protection order. Additionally, the court staff and judges try to assist people in their efforts. Despite this, it is sometimes beneficial to have the assistance of an attorney to perfect all the relevant documents and to assure success in your efforts to obtain a protection order. If you find yourself in need of a protection order, contact Padula & Associates, our attorneys can help you navigate through this stressful process and achieve protection.