February 21st, 2023
Defending Against a Domestic Violence Protection Order in Washington State
Relationships are inherently complex, and disagreements can turn emotional and heated in an instant. While domestic violence protection orders aim to shield vulnerable individuals from abusive partners, housemates, or family members, some parties acting in bad faith may try to weaponize the system against innocent people. False accusations are not unheard of—but these statements can cause severe damage to someone’s career, relationships, and reputation. If someone has pursued a domestic violence protection order against you and you know the allegations are false, it’s essential to recognize that you have legal rights. Contact an experienced and trusted Seattle attorney right away to discuss the details of your situation and determine the most strategic path forward.
Understanding How Temporary Protection Orders Work
If you have been served with a Temporary Protection Order, it’s natural to feel confused and anxious about what this means. Temporary Protection Orders can be used when the petitioner believes that they are in immediate danger and need protection as soon as possible. This tool typically applies in extreme circumstances, such as when the victim fears that their partner (the alleged abuser) is about to harm them or their children. Once the victim files the petition, the Court will schedule a meeting with a judicial officer as soon as possible (usually within the same day), and they will determine whether to issue the Temporary Protection Order. A copy of the petition will be served on the respondent, who must immediately cease all contact with the petitioner. A Temporary Protection Order lasts until the court can hold a full hearing, generally around 14 days.
Who May File for a Domestic Violence Protection Order?
Washinton state laws allow an individual to file a petition for a Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPO) against spouses, former spouses, current or former dating partners, blood relatives, relatives by marriage, housemates, and any persons who have a biological or legal parent-child relationship (i.e., step-parents and grandparents). According to RCW 1.105.100, a DVPO “must allege the existence of domestic violence committed against the petitioner or petitioners by an intimate partner or a family or household member.” If the Court grants the petition for the DVPO, the order will notify the respondent of all the terms that they must uphold and respect. Violating the terms of the protective order can lead to significant penalties.
Recognizing the Penalties for Violating a Protective Order
When the Court puts a protective order in place, the document will include the specific terms of the order. For instance, it will tell the respondent what they can and cannot do (i.e., show up at the petitioner’s place of work, contact them by phone, etc.). It will also specify how long the protection order will be in effect. Keep in mind that the Court may decide to extend the duration of the order if the judge determines that the petitioner still requires these legal protections. If you violate the terms of the DVPO, you risk several penalties, including the potential for incarceration. It’s essential that you understand every term and detail of the protective order to ensure you keep your freedom and future as bright as possible.
How to Defend Yourself Against False Allegations
Finding yourself accused of domestic violence can be a frightening experience, especially when you know the allegations are false. Although your first impulse may be to contact your accuser to ask them why they are pursuing a protective order against you, doing so will likely further complicate the situation and make things worse for you. Instead, contact an experienced attorney right away to discuss what’s happening. Your attorney will assess every detail of the situation and help you identify the most effective defense strategy. First, you may look at what documents or evidence the petitioner has provided the Court to identify any weaknesses or inconsistencies in the accuser’s story. You can also involve any witnesses who can attest to the petitioner’s history of exaggerating or not being truthful. No matter what path your defense strategy takes, you can trust that your attorney will fight hard to protect your rights and reputation.
Aggressively Defending Your Reputation
Although our court system urges us to presume innocence until proven guilty, not all defendants enjoy the benefit of the doubt. Even the mere allegation of domestic violence—even if it’s completely baseless and false—can wreak havoc on your relationships and reputation. However, you do not have to endure this stressful experience alone. Reach out to a caring and understanding attorney to receive the clarity and reassurance you need to move forward. Sometimes, all you need is to know that someone is fighting hard for you to feel less alone and hopeful about the future once more.
Reach out to the dedicated and caring Seattle family law attorneys at the Hemmat Law Group today by calling (206) 682-5200.
Andrew Linden is an Associate Attorney at Hemmat Law Group. Mr. Linden graduated from Knox College in 2016 and received his J.D. from Lewis & Clark Law School in 2019. He is a member of the Oregon and Washington State Bar.