In Washington, an aggressive criminal act committed by one member of a family or household against someone else in that same family or household is considered a domestic violence offense. When there is an allegation of domestic violence, the judge in the case has the power to issue what is known as a no-contact order (NCO) in criminal cases, or a civil protection order (CPO) in civil cases. This order bars the person accused of domestic violence from contacting the alleged victim for a specific period of time. More often than not, these protective orders stay in effect while the case is tied up in court and going through the system. The Court also by rule will require you to relinquish your firearms rights, and surrender any firearms you may have in your possession or control.
No Contact Order Rules
NCOs and civil protection orders cover every form of contact currently recognized by the court system, such as in-person, writing, communication via a third party, phone, text, and other online and traditional messaging systems. Because domestic violence is a serious charge in Washington State, the accused usually must also stay a certain distance away from the alleged victim’s work, school, and home.
If you’ve been accused of domestic violence, speak to a Feldman & Lee criminal defense lawyer who can handle the complex issues involved in these types of cases. If you are currently facing or are under an NCO or civil protection order, learn more about them so you don’t make a costly mistake.
NCO Types in Washington
NCOs/CPOs can be issued even when you have not had the opportunity to fully contest the allegations – whether at a criminal or civil hearing. Oftentimes, the court has only read a police report or declaration written by the alleged victim. If it is a criminal matter, your attorney has advised you to remain silent so you do not implicate yourself – even though there may be a strong desire to try and “set the record straight.”
Civil protection order and no contact order rules only restrict the behavior of the accused and don’t pertain to the behavior of the alleged victim. If the accused responds to the victim’s attempt to contact, it’s essential to remember that the individual with the order placed against them can still be charged for violating the order.
NCOs/CPOs can even bar the accused from contacting the children of the alleged victim as well, even if that individual is the other parent. The accused is barred from visiting the victim’s home, even if they once lived there or the shared children still live there, as well.
How are no-contact orders monitored?
In Washington, when an NCO or CPO is issued or modified by the court, the appropriate law enforcement agency is then provided notice regarding the change. Once received, that agency enters the order into their system so that all officers with access to the system can see details regarding the order simply by searching the individual’s name who has the order placed against them. This way, if they choose to attempt contact with the alleged victim, they can contact the police with information of the contact.
If the accused violates a no contact order ofr civil protection order, it will be considered a completely separate offense from the original domestic violence charge it arose from and will come with its own penalties. For people who have two or fewer prior convictions for violating an NCO or CPO, the charge for a violation without any assault in the original domestic violence incident involved is a gross misdemeanor, which can net a punishment of a $5,000 fine and up to 364 days in jail. That person will also lose their right to own or possess firearms.
For those with a history of violating these orders or whose initial domestic violence charge included assault, the offense for a CPO or NCO violation is a Class C felony. This felony carries a maximum jail sentence of five years and a $10,000 fine. Additionally, since the very violation of an NCO or CPO is considered a domestic violence crime, that person will lose their right to own or possess a firearm post-conviction.
Because of the severe consequences of CPO and NCO violations, it’s essential that all people subject to these orders obey CPO and no contact order rules to the letter. If either party were to enter any public place, like a grocery store, restaurant, or event venue, and see each other, the accused would need to leave immediately. Any contact the accused has with the alleged victim, no matter where it is, can be seen as a CPO or NCO violation.
Does a no-contact order go both ways?
Unfortunately for the accused, a no-contact order or civil protection order does not bar contact on both sides. This means that the alleged victim can contact the accused as much as they please and however they want without repercussion. As long as the accused doesn’t choose to respond, they won’t receive an NCO violation. However, the moment they choose to return the contact, they are in violation and face fines, jail time, and charges according to their situation.
Removing an NCO
Having a no-contact order removed can be difficult, even if the alleged victim is the party that requests it’s removal, and judges often still leave it in place for a period of time after such a request. One potential way to have the order removed is by undergoing an evaluation with a domestic violence treatment provider and complying with the treatment recommended. That treatment can range from a set number of hours of anger management classes, a 6 month moral reconation therapy (MRT) program, or a 1 year Domestic Violence Intervention Treatment (DVIT).
If you or someone you know is facing domestic violence charges or already have a no-contact order in place against you, contact an experienced domestic violence defense lawyer about your case. These charges often have severe repercussions in both the long and short term. With experienced legal help on your side, you’ll be more aware of what is going on in your case and all its possible outcomes.