The current population of adults in Washington state is around 4.38 million. Roughly 15% of those adults say they have experienced domestic abuse at some point in their lives. That works out to a little over 657,000 adults in Washington state who have suffered from a form of domestic violence including assault, harassment, stalking, destruction of property, and other forms of abuse.
Many people reach out to us to ask about getting a no-contact order or having a no contact order. This post will help you understand more about when no contact orders are issued and why. Read on to learn more about no-contact orders.
What Does a No-Contact Order Do?
In Washington, a no-contact order is a powerful command issued by the criminal courts to protect someone who is considered to be the victim of a domestic violence related case. It is issued by the court in relation to a criminal case.
These types of orders prevent the alleged abuser from contacting you by any means, including directly, through a third party, through social media, etc. But the courts only issue no-contact orders as part of a criminal action. In other words, the person who harmed you is facing charges for the abuse or has been convicted. If they are released from jail, whether on their personal recognizance or on bail while awaiting a resolution to the case or trial, the court may issue a no-contact order. In such a case, the accused is not to contact you in any way while the criminal case against them is active, or beyond that if so ordered.
A violation of a no-contact order is a crime. If the person who is ordered not to contact you reaches out in any way: calls you, texts you, emails you, has a friend call you on their behalf, DMs you, etc., they could be arrested and/or charged with violating the no-contact order and there may be additional penalties imposed.
You also do not need to ask for a no-contact order. When someone is charged with a domestic violence related criminal offense, the courts will step in and order one. On the other hand, you can let your wishes be known to both the prosecutor and the court. You may want the full protection of a no-contact order. Or, you may want to ask for a modified no-contact order, thereby allowing you to have limited contact for a specific purpose.
An example of this is text and email communication for the purposes of arranging child visitation. But that is only one example. And what if you don’t want the no-contact order? You can make that known as well but be aware that the criminal courts are generally inclined to issue a no-contact order at the inception of a criminal case.
That’s a powerful layer of protection to have. But keep in mind that a no-contact order is only one type of protection order in Washington state. And it is issued by the criminal courts. But you don’t have to be in a domestic violence relationship to need protection from someone. There are other types of civil protection orders in Washington state, such as the following:
Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPO)
Many people who are victims of domestic abuse ask the civil courts for a domestic violence protection order (DVPO). A DVPO will protect victims of domestic violence or someone who fears domestic violence from a family member or household member. It is a civil order of the court that tells the perpetrator not to harm you. It can give one parent temporary custody, order the respondent to seek counseling, order them to leave a shared residence, and more.
An anti-harassment order is a specific type of restraining order for victims of harassment. Anti-harassment orders can restrain the perpetrator from contacting you, ban them from keeping you under surveillance, and require the perpetrator to stay a specific distance away from your home and/or workplace. If the person harasses you again they will face criminal penalties or be found in contempt of court.
An anti-stalking order may be requested by a victim of stalking or by someone else on their behalf. Anti-stalking orders prohibit the person stalking you from contacting you and can require them to stay away from places you frequent such as your school, home, and/or workplace. Willful disobedience of an anti-stalking order can place the respondent in contempt of the court and they could face criminal penalties. If you are being stalked by a family member, that would fall under a DVPO, not an anti-stalking order.
As you can see, there are several types of protective orders in Washington state. An experienced lawyer can help you determine which type of order you need to request.
Because a no-contact order is only issued in the context of a criminal case, the process for getting one from a judge must involve criminal charges related to the abuse that you suffered.
Will & Will Can Help You
With more than 35 years of experience in criminal law, the husband and wife team at Will & Will have seen firsthand how devastating domestic violence cases can be. We’re here to help.
We can help you understand your options. And when you know which type of protective order you need, we can help you get it.
If you need help, we can assist you. Give us a call at 206-209-5585 or contact us online to learn more.