The criminal defense attorneys at Black Law assist both petitioners and respondents in protection order cases in Seattle and other Washington communities. While there are several types of protection orders under Washington law, three of the most common include: Domestic Violence Protection Orders, Anti-Harassment Orders, and Sexual Assault Protection Orders. Please know that a judge can find persons restrained by these orders in violation of them. The penalties for such violations can indeed grow severe. If you or a loved one have questions about obtaining a protection order, or need assistance in fighting one, please contact Black Law for help.

Domestic Violence Protection Orders Under Washington Law

A Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPO) is sought by a victim of domestic violence. More specifically, Washington law says that a DVPO can be obtained by a person experiencing physical harm, bodily injury, assault, stalking, or sexual assault by a family or household member. A person may also file for this protection order if he/she fears imminent physical harm or bodily injury by a family or household member.

Under Washington law, family or household members include:

  • Spouses/former spouses
  • Persons who have children in common
  • Persons who are dating or previously dated
  • Adult persons related by blood or marriage
  • Adult persons residing together or who have resided together in the past
  • Persons 16 years of age or older residing together and who have had a dating relationship
  • Persons 13 years of age or older and who have had a dating relationship with someone 16 years of age or older
  • Persons who have a biological or legal parent child relationship, including step-parents and grandparents.

If successfully obtained, a domestic violence protection order prohibits the restrained party from having any contact at all with the protected party. A DVPO can be in place on a temporary basis, for a year or more, or on a permanent basis. Persons restrained by DVPOs will likely face firearm prohibitions.

Anti-Harassment Orders Under Washington Law

An anti-harassment order is a special type of restraining order that is available for victims of harassment. It’s a civil order in which a court tells a person who is harassing another not to continue in such acts. More specifically, anti-harassment orders can: (1) restrain a person from contacting another person; (2) restrain a person from keeping another person under surveillance; and, (3) require a person to stay a certain distance away from another person’s home or workplace.  Police are notified of these orders and they’re enforceable in any county in Washington.

Washington law considers unlawful harassment any knowing and willful “course of conduct” that seriously:

  • Alarms a person
  • Annoys a person
  • Harasses a person
  • Serves no legitimate or lawful purpose
  • Causes a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, and actually causes substantial emotional distress to a person

A “course of conduct” is basically a series of acts, that take place over a period of time (however short), and have an on-going purpose.

Sexual Assault Protection Orders Under Washington Law

A sexual assault protection order, sometimes referred to as a “SAPO,” is a civil order issued by a court at the request of a sexual assault victim or by someone else on his or her behalf. Persons filing these orders essentially ask the court to tell another person to stay away from them, their home, school, work, or other place specifically named in the order. Any person 16 years of age or older who is a victim of sexual assault may seek to obtain a sexual assault protection order. One may seek an order even if the sexual assault forming the basis for the order was not reported to law enforcement authorities.

An often-asked question in these cases is how Washington law defines “sexual assault”? The law defines sexual assault as:

  • Nonconsensual sexual touching of the genitals, anus, or breasts – either directly or through clothing.
  • Nonconsensual sexual penetration, however slight, of the genitals or anus by a body part of another including the mouth or the use of objects.
  • Forced display of the genitals, anus or breasts for the purpose of sexually arousing another.

Please know that either the person requesting this order, or, the person fighting it may bring a motion to modify or terminate the order. A judge will decide at a hearing whether to grant the motion.

Violations of Protection Orders

A person restrained by a protection order can be found in violation of that order. A person violates the above orders if: (1) a valid protection order was in place; (2) the offender in question was given valid notice of the order; and, (3) the offender committed some type of contact that was prohibited under the order.

When discussing conduct prohibited under protection orders, it’s important to note that this conduct is prohibited up until the order is terminated. Further, prohibited conduct includes both direct and indirect contact with a protected person. It also includes being in close proximity to a protected person.

Penalties for Violations of Protection Orders

The penalties for violations of protection orders are severe. The underlying facts of a case will determine the exact punishment a defendant receives. However, in general, penalties can include incarceration and/or thousands of dollars in fines. A court may also order a violator to submit to electronic monitoring. Further, penalties will grow harsher if a violation occurred through an act of reckless endangerment or assault, or if the violator has two or more prior convictions for similar violations.

The talented attorneys at Black Law have a combined 20 years of experience with protection orders – this includes within Seattle and other Washington communities. They can either help persons obtain a protection order or help someone fight against one. Our protection order attorneys are dedicated and knowledgeable. They are also tireless in their efforts and are here for you. Please contact them now and protect your rights and freedoms.