Civil No Contact Orders
Civil Orders Preventing Contact
Civil orders preventing contact come in various types. They are imposed by a Judge when a person demonstrates they need protection from the behavior of another person or persons. The order will typically prevent the prohibited party from contacting a person or persons, entering their home, coming within a designated distance, having contact by telephone, text, email or third party. Violating an order is the basis for a criminal charge and can result in immediate arrest. An experienced attorney can help you determine the right type of order. Choosing the right type of order is important as the information you must present to the court varies and the relief granted may differ. In civil cases the person seeking the order is referred to as the "Petitioner" and the person defending against the order is referred to as the "Respondent." Michele has represented both Petitioners and Respondents in all many of civil no-contact order proceedings.
Seeking a No-Contact Order
If you feel that you need the protection of a court order Michele can help you make a presentation to the Judge that will help him or her understand why there is a need for an order. Even if you have been the victim of a crime you need to demonstrate to the Judge that the order is necessary. Judges hear many of these cases every day and must balance the need for the order against the rights of the person who is the subject of the order. In some cases it can take months for criminal charges to be filed so if you feel a civil order is necessary, making a good presentation to the Judge is important. Michele has helped individuals secure orders of protection. If you are unable to afford an attorney there are community resources available to assist you with your presentation.
Defending Against a No Contact Order
If someone is seeking an order against you an attorney can help you understand the system and how to defend against the order. Michele has helped many individuals who are the subject of these petitions demonstrate to the Court why the order should not be entered. Many individuals believe they can "talk it out" or "talk sense" into the person seeking the order. As difficult and frustrating as it may be, you must work within the system to resolve these issues. Trying to talk to someone who is seeking an order can result in criminal charges and immediate arrest. Civil courts have very specific rules about the form in which materials must be presented to the Judge and other party and strict timelines. If your materials are not filed or served properly the Judge will not be able to review them.
Temporary Order of Protection
The Court may grant an ex parte temporary order for protection before a hearing when the Petitioner demonstrates they are in immediate danger. If the Judge grants the Temporary Order the party being restrained will receive the order and will thereafter be prohibited from contact with the protected party. The order will be in place for a fixed period, usually fourteen days, and may be reissued. A full hearing will then be set at which point the parties will have an opportunity to make a full presentation arguing for and against the protection order.
Domestic Violence Protection Order
A Domestic Violence Protection Order is ordered when a person claims they are a victim of Domestic Violence. Domestic Violence encompasses parties who have a domestic relationship either as a household or family member, or persons engaged in a current or former dating relationship. The order will prohibit contact with the victim and may include children. It will restrain the other party from having any contact with the protected parties. The order will also require the party being restrained to surrender all firearms or dangerous weapons. The order may be entered before criminal charges have been filed and continue until a Court is convinced it is safe for the parties to have contact again.
Stalking Protection Order
In 2013 the Washington Legislature approved a new mechanism for victims of stalking to obtain protection. The Stalking Protection Order provides specific means for victims of stalking to request an order prohibiting their stalker from contacting them. The order is intended to be a comprehensive document providing specific instructions to the stalker regarding what conduct is prohibited. The objective of these orders is to provide the victim with peace of mind and send a strong message to stalkers that violations of the order will not be tolerated. These orders can be put in place for a fixed period of time or permanently and are not dependent on a crime has been reported or investigated. A Stalking No-Contact order is also available when a criminal case has commenced alleging stalking.
Civil Sexual Assault Protection Order
A petition for a Sexual Assault Protection Order is sought when someone alleges the existence of nonconsensual sexual conduct or nonconsensual sexual penetration. The person seeking the order must state under oath specific statements or actions made at the same time of the sexual assault or subsequently thereafter, which give rise to a reasonable fear of future dangerous acts, for which the order is sought.
Unlawful harassment is a knowing and willful course of conducted directed at another person which seriously alarms, annoys, harasses, serves no legitimate or lawful purpose and would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress and actually causes substantial emotional distress. A "course of conduct" is a series of acts over a period of time with an on-going purpose to harass. The court will consider whether the parties contacted each-other or whether one party was initiating the contact, whether the party accused of harassment has clearly been told no further contact is desired, whether the actions of the person interfered with privacy or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive living environment, whether the contact has previously been limited by a court order.
Vulnerable Adult Protection Orders
A vulnerable adult is anyone over 60 and without functional, mental or physical ability to care for himself. Or, someone who is 18 years or older and was found incapacitated, has a developmental disability, has been admitted to a DSHS-licensed care facility or receives in-home care from a provider under DSHS contract. A vulnerable petition can be filed when the vulnerable adult is a victim of abandonment, abuse (sexual, mental, physical), financial exploitation, neglect, or the threat of any of these. A legal guardian, legal fiduciary, the Department of Social and Health Services, or an "interested person" on behalf of a vulnerable adult may file a petition.
Violation of No Contact Order
No contact order violations have implications beyond unauthorized contact with the person who is the subject of the order. In most cases, violating a no contact order can result in criminal charges being filed. The criminal penalties for violating a no contact order can be significant. If there are multiple violations of no contact orders, the offense becomes a felony and significant time can be imposed. If you are prohibited from contact someone, the burden is on you to ensure there is no contact. Violations of no contact orders include: in-person contact, text messages, phone contact, emails or other contact through websites or social networking, passing messages through third parties. Many people assume that if the person they are being restrained from contact initiates the contact that they are permitted to respond. This is not accurate, you must at all times refrain from contact or responding to a person who is the subject of a court ordered no contact order. If you have violating a no contact order and are concerned about potential criminal charges Ms. Shaw can evaluate your case and help safeguard you in the future.