Domestic Violence Protection Order Respondent

The State of Washington considers accusations of domestic violence very seriously. Unlike some criminal charges, alleged victims cannot cease legal action against the accused once they file a complaint. When victims of domestic violence feel threatened, they can petition the court to grant an order of protection.

Washington has several processes to protect alleged victims from domestic violence. On top of filing a protection order, petitioners can request to have their real address substituted to mask their actual location. Petitioners may also request to have the respondent give up their weapons. Protection orders are usually filed because of valid concerns about domestic violence. But there are occasions when the procedure is weaponized by petitioners who misrepresent the facts to obtain protection orders that make the respondent look bad in court.

Because domestic violence protection orders can reflect poorly on the respondent in court, it is not unheard of for petitioners to fabricate their entire case for legal gain. More often, the petitioner is misrepresenting reality by including some facts intermixed with exaggerations or fabrications. Even in instances where a petitioner is able to provide evidence, that doesn’t imply that a protection order is warranted. A qualified family law attorney can provide guidance and representation in these types of cases.

Petitioners and respondents are often engaged in marital or custodial battles in court when a protection order request is filed. While the application may be quickly granted, it doesn’t legally close pending or ongoing cases related to either party. Domestic violence protective orders are only issued to protect an alleged victim of domestic abuse.

For those that have had an order of protection filed against them, it is recommended to contact an experienced Seattle family law attorney.

Washington Domestic Violence Protection Order Attorney

Often, family law deals with families who are fractured and have questions as to what should happen next. It takes an attorney with the right knowledge and sensitivity to provide meaningful and healing family law services. When approaching a domestic violence protection order, family lawyers must act swiftly and tactfully to ensure their client’s needs are met. Otherwise, the impact the order has in subsequent court hearings might be devastating.

The legal team at Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson are dedicated to providing the kind of legal service that fights for the good of families. Our seasoned family law attorneys have devoted themselves to advocating for the futures of parents and children alike, and they have the necessary experience required to fight for your rights.

If you are the respondent in a domestic violence protection order, contact us today at (206) 712-2756 to schedule your first consultation and strategy session. We are here for you, to fight for you, and to advocate for your future. Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson assists clients in the Seattle metropolitan area, including BellevueTacoma, Kent, Everett, Shoreline, Renton, and many more cities in the surrounding area.

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What Are Domestic Violence Protection Orders?

Domestic violence protection orders are a court-issued order designed to protect the petitioner, whose duration depends on the circumstances of the abuse, and if a formal hearing has been conducted or not. Some protection orders can be issued permanently. However, most require renewal on an annual basis.

When the court perceives that the petitioner is in imminent danger of being abused by a family or household member, the court can issue a temporary ex parte protection order before the formal hearing date, usually some weeks later Ex Parte literally means “for one party” and involves a court proceeding with only one party present. That party is often the petitioner and their representative. Once the respondent is served with the order, they will have to wait until the formal hearing to dispute the claims.

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Benefits of a Domestic Violence Protection Order

A Domestic Violence Protection Order serves as the following. It can:

  • Prohibit the respondent, the abusive person, from harassing and/or contacting the petitioner, the person seeking protection. The respondent may be ordered to have no contact with the petitioner, including in person, by mail, by telephone, or through third parties.
  • Exclude the respondent from petitioner’s residence (even if shared), school, business, or place of employment, or from coming to the school or daycare of minor children.
  • Restrain the respondent from cyberstalking or keeping someone under physical or electronic surveillance.
  • Award temporary custody of minor children to one parent, establish temporary visitation, and restrain one parent from interfering with custody.
  • Order the respondent to participate in treatment or counseling.
  • Prohibit the respondent from removing the children from the state.
  • Restrain the respondent from committing further acts of abuse.
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Domestic Violence in Washington

In July 2022, Washington’s legal definition of domestic violence changed. According to the new DV statute in Washington (RCW 7.105), domestic violence occurs when a person suffers any of the following with a household member, family member, or intimate partner:

  • Physical harm
  • Bodily Injury
  • Assault
  • Infliction of fear of physical harm
  • Nonconsensual sexual conduct or nonconsensual sexual penetration
  • Coercive control
  • Unlawful harassment or stalking

Washington law defines family members or household members as:

  • People related by blood, marriage, domestic partnership, or adoption
  • People who currently or formerly resided together
  • People who have a biological or legal parent-child relationship, including stepparents and stepchildren and grandparents and grandchildren, or a parent’s intimate partner and children. It also includes individuals who act or have acted as legal guardians.

Intimate partners are defined as:

  • Spouses or domestic partners
  • Former spouses or former domestic partners
  • Couples who have a child in common regardless of whether they have been married or have lived together at any time, unless the child is conceived through sexual assault
  • Couples who have or have had a dating relationship where both individuals are at least 13 years of age or older.
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Definitions Under Washington’s Domestic Violence Statutes

Definitional changes in Washington’s new domestic violence statute (RCW 7.105), have broadened the circumstances under which a person may obtain a domestic violence protection order. Certain terms such as “coercive control” and “unlawful harassment” are also now included in the definition of domestic violence.

Coercive control is defined as a pattern of behavior that is used to cause another to suffer physical, emotional, or psychological harm. It interferes with a person’s free will and personal liberty. Examples of coercive control include, but are not limited to, engaging in any of the following:

  • Damaging, destroying, or threatening to damage or destroy, or forcing the other party to relinquish, goods, property, or items of special value
  • Using technology to threaten, humiliate, harass, stalk, intimidate, exert undue influence over, or abuse the other party, including by engaging in cyberstalking, monitoring, surveillance, impersonation, manipulation of electronic media, or distribution of or threats to distribute actual or fabricated intimate images
  • Carrying, exhibiting, displaying, drawing, or threatening to use, any firearm or any other weapon capable of producing bodily harm at a time and place that either manifests an intent to intimidate the other party
  • Driving recklessly with the other party or minor children in the vehicle;
  • Communicating, directly or indirectly, the intent to harm the other party’s children, family members, friends, or pets, including by use of physical forms of violence

Under Washington law, unlawful harassment is defined as:

  • A willful course of conduct directed at a specific person that seriously alarms, annoys, harasses, or is detrimental to such person, causing substantial emotional distress
  • A single act of violence or threat of violence directed at a specific person that alarms, annoys, harasses, or is detrimental to such person, and that serves no legitimate or lawful purpose, causing substantial emotional distress. A single threat of violence must include a malicious and intentional threat or the presence of a firearm or other weapon.
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Stalking under Washington’s Domestic Violence Statute

Since stalking is one of the several behaviors that constitute domestic violence, it is also important to note how the statute defines it. Under RCW 7.105, stalking means any of the following:

  • Any act of stalking as defined under RCW 9A.46.110;
  • Any act of cyber harassment as defined under RCW 9A.90.120; or
  • Any course of conduct involving repeated or continuing contacts, attempts to contact, monitoring, tracking, surveillance, keeping under observation, disrupting activities in a harassing manner, or following of another person that:
  • Would cause a reasonable person to feel intimidated, frightened, under duress, significantly disrupted, or threatened and that actually causes such a feeling;
  • Serves no lawful purpose; and
  • The respondent knows that the act threatens, frightens, or intimidates the victim
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Weapons Surrender

In Washington, if the court finds per the petition that the respondent is a credible threat, and that they are restrained from causing physical harm to the petitioner, then the court must issue an order to surrender weapons and require the respondent to appear before the weapons surrender calendar to prove they have surrendered their weapons.  RCW 9.41.800(2).  A surrender weapons order may also be issued if the court finds that, by a preponderance of the evidence, a respondent presents a serious and imminent threat to public health or safety, or the health or safety of any individual by possession a firearm or other dangerous weapon.  Failure to appear for the weapons surrender calendar or comply with the release of weapons can lead to further orders, sanctions or even warrants.

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Court Practices Regarding Protection Orders

Often, but not always, courts will issue an Ex Parte temporary protection order on the same day they receive a petition. A formal hearing date will be included in the documentation, which is usually no later than 10-15 days after the temporary order was issued. From there, the order will be directed to whichever law enforcement department is responsible in the jurisdiction the respondent lives in. After serving the order, the respondent is required by law to follow its conditions.

At the formal hearing, the judge will consider all of the evidence, documentation, and argumentation from the petitioner. They will also allow the respondent to dispute the claims by providing their proof and arguing as to why the order is unnecessary. It is highly recommended to obtain qualified legal counsel for a protection order hearing.

If the formal hearing results in the issuance of a protection order, the length of time the order is active will be set by the judge. When or if the protection order approaches its expiration date, the petitioner must provide current evidence that indicates a need for it to continue if they wish to renew. At a renewal hearing, much like the initial hearing, it is highly recommended to obtain knowledgeable legal counsel to assist you in preparing and going through the court protection order process.

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Impact of Protection Orders on Court Proceedings

If a court issues a protection order for domestic abuse, it can reflect quite poorly on the respondent in any ongoing or future court cases. Family law proceedings that involve child custody, divorce, or domestic abuse charges can all be very negatively tainted by the issuance of a protection order.

Any future case you are involved in, both civil and criminal, can be negatively impacted by the issuance of a domestic violence protection order. Job applications, government assistance, and much other law or finance-related matters can be affected. If you have been served with a domestic violence protective order already, don’t worry, not all is lost. Depending on the facts of your case, a seasoned family law attorney can work with you and the evidence of the case to dispute the accuracy of the petitioner’s claims.

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Additional Resources Washington Restraining Order Information – This is a nonprofit organization devoted to providing domestic abuse victims with information and assistance. It is an excellent place to start for a simple but comprehensive explanation of the protection order process in the state of Washington as well as all other US states and territories.

Domestic Violence Statute in Washington – Access the official website for the Washington State Legislature to view section RCW 7.105.010. The chapter includes definitions for domestic violence-related terms.

Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WSCADV) –  Visit the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WSCADV) webpage to read more information about ending domestic violence. WSCADV’s mission is to create communities where all people can live and love without fear. The organization also increases survivors’ options to live safely and independently from an abusive partner.

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Seattle Domestic Violence Protection Order Attorney | King County, WA

A lot hinges on the smooth handling of a family law case. Life doesn’t wait, and without fighting for your future, it may not treat you fairly either. At Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson, it is our highest honor to listen to, work with, and provide aid to our clients in every kind of legal matter they and their families find themselves in.

Domestic violence protection orders can imply many different things to judges, and they can also significantly impair personal, professional, and public reputations. To give yourself a fighting chance, if you are facing a protection order, contact us today at (206) 712-2756 to schedule your initial consultation and strategy session.

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