Questions About Protective Orders
*If you are in a dangerous situation, call 911 immediately.*
What is the difference between a Protection Order, an Anti-Harassment Order, a Restraining Order, and a No Contact Order?
Individuals should take care when dealing with protective orders. The consequences for violating them can be very serious and can lead to criminal liability and arrest:
- Protection Orders are civil orders that involve domestic violence, sexual assault, or other quasi-criminal matters. When these orders are issued, they are sought often by one person upon another whom they have an existing relationship or familiarity with. These can involve spouses, significant others, boyfriends/girlfriends, roommates, or similar. The prior relationship does not necessarily have to be intimate.
- Anti-Harassment or Stalking Orders are civil orders that involve harassment, stalking, electronic surveillance, bullying, or related behaviors designed to significantly annoy or distress an individual. When these orders are issued, they are sought by one person upon another, with a previous relationship or familiarity not being required.
- Restraining Orders are civil orders obtained within a domestic relations case, such as a divorce or legal separation. These orders, sought by one person upon another, can forbid various behaviors based on circumstance (such as do not disturb), and they can be mutually binding on both parties.
- No Contact Orders are criminal orders issued within a case in the criminal justice system. Generally, their terms are harsher than other protective orders. Unlike the other three types of orders, No Contact Orders may be sought only by the State or County prosecuting the individual. If you find yourself on the receiving end of a No Contact Order, we would be happy to refer you to an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Our office assists both Petitioners and Respondents, and we strongly suggest seeking legal counsel to appraise you of your options when being served with or preparing to seek a protective order.
What happens if I violate a protective order?
The consequences of violating a protective order may vary based on the type of order, the circumstances, the language of order, and other factors. In general, a violation can subject the violator to arrest and incarceration. We strongly advise against even the appearance of a violation, even an accidental one. For these reasons, we suggest speaking with an attorney to advise you on best practices to protect your interests.
There is currently a standing protective order against me. The protected person is inviting me to violate the order’s terms. May I do so?
It is the restricted individual’s sole responsibility to adhere to a protective order even if the protected party invites you to violate it. We strongly discourage anyone from violating the terms of a protective order even if invited to do so.
How long does a civil protective order last?
Temporary protective orders last until the next court hearing on the matter. As for final protective orders, typically they last for one-year barring exceptional circumstances. You can later ask the court to extend a protective order if you can demonstrate that the danger is ongoing. Schedule a consultation with our office if your protective order needs extension.
I was served with a Temporary Protection Order. What is it?
A Temporary Protection Order is an order entered for a short period of time before the dispute can be adjudicated. Often, they are used to protect individuals in potential emergency circumstances and only last until a full hearing can be set and heard.
If you are served with a Petition and a Temporary Protection Order, it is critical you read it carefully and understand its requirements. You only have a limited period to respond, so consulting with an attorney is strongly advised. Moreover, depending upon the specific accusations you may be advised not to testify if your testimony could implicate you in criminal behavior. This is often referred to as “pleading the Fifth Amendment” against self-incrimination.
Consult with an attorney to ensure you do not accidentally incriminate yourself in your own defense.
I was served with a Petition. What is it?
A Petition is the document the Petitioner (the initiating party) filed with the court alleging unlawful behavior. If you are a Respondent, a complete Petition and a Notice of Hearing must be provided to you in advance of any hearing, along with any evidence or exhibits the Petitioner filed. Altogether, you will be told exactly what you are accused of and when you need to appear to defend yourself.
Be careful to present all the documentation you have been served with to your attorney. Without it, we will be missing vital information.
I want to file for a protective order. What are my first steps?
First, secure your own personal safety. Once that is accomplished, seek to gather as much concrete evidence as possible of the damaging behavior the other person has engaged in toward you. Screenshots, recordings, records, images, or other documents are always helpful. Witness declarations from other people can be helpful as well. Before a consultation with us, sit down and prepare a dated and timed timeline of events, along with a list of any witnesses who can to support your case. The more concrete specifics you can provide us the more credibility we can give you in front of a judge.
Schedule a consultation with us, and we will be happy to review your options – our number one priority is the long-term safety of our clients.
How much will defending from or seeking a protective order cost?
This will vary greatly from person to person based on individual circumstance. Schedule a consultation with our office for more information.
Questions About Domestic Violence
I may be a victim of domestic violence. What is considered domestic violence in Washington state?
Domestic violence is legally defined in Washington state as physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault, sexual assault, or stalking of one intimate partner or family member by another partner or family member.
Contrary to public perception, domestic violence can include emotional abuse. Additionally, domestic violence is not gender specific and can be committed by either partner.
A dysfunctional relationship may also be marred by the intentional social isolation, “gas lighting,” the use of children or loved ones as emotional leverage, or the malicious domination of finances, family resources, or healthcare.
If you are in a dangerous situation, call 911 immediately.
I am a victim of domestic violence. Can I seek protection for me and my loved ones during the divorce process?
Yes. Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPO) are issued by the court to protect a petitioner and/or child, depending on the nature and circumstances of the facts involved in your case. Orders can restrain the abuser from certain actions, locations, or individuals, and will subject the defendant to arrest should the order be violated.
Details on how this might affect your divorce will be based on a case by case basis. We strongly advise you seek experienced legal counsel to help guide your decision making when it comes to abusive situations.
How long will a Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPO) last?
Usually a DVPO will last one year but can be extended depending on circumstances and need. If a DVPO is about to expire after running it course, one can petition to have it renewed if the safety concerns remain.
The individual facts and circumstance are critical to determining your options to protect yourself. We strongly recommend calling us for a consultation, as our office has experience dealing with domestic violence and spousal abuse.
What domestic violence resources are available?
There are a variety of resources available for survivors and perpetrators of domestic violence. Please refer to our Resources page for further information.