Snohomish County Protection Order Lawyers
Preventing and reducing domestic violence and harassment is a national priority. Civil protection orders, sometimes referred to as restraining orders, have been one of the leading legal responses to domestic violence and harassment for several decades. These orders are designed to prohibit the abuser from committing acts of violence or harassment against the person seeking the order. In many cases, protection orders are necessary to protect victims; however, unwarranted protection orders can have many implications for innocent parties.
Individuals who are in immediate danger should call 911. Once you are safe from immediate danger, consult an attorney to discuss your next steps.
Washington’s Civil Protection Order Statute RCW 7.105
Washington’s new protection order statute, RCW 7.105, took effect on July 1, 2022. The changes consolidated the state’s civil protection order laws under one statute.
In light of the extensive changes to Washington’s protective order statute, domestic violence, anti-harassment, and other family law cases require a comprehensive understanding of complex federal and state laws and procedures. Those who need help securing, effectuating, or defending against a stay-away order in Washington should contact Dabney Law Firm, PLLC.
Civil Protection Orders in Snohomish County
Washington State law permits a person (petitioner) to file a civil claim asking a judge to grant an order to protect the petitioner from another person (respondent) whose behavior is abusive, threatening, or seriously alarming. Under RCW 7.105, one uniform form applies to every type of protection order, and filings can be done remotely or in person.
Petitioners should consult with an attorney to determine what type of protection order is appropriate for their situation. RCW 7.105 covers five types of protection orders.
Domestic violence protection orders (DVPO) are appropriate when the petitioner requests protection from a current or former intimate partner, household family member, or roommate. In these cases, the petitioner must allege that they experienced any of the following by the respondent:
- Sexual assault or physical harm;
- In-person stalking or cyberstalking;
- Fear of immediate harm; or
- Coercive control.
In this context, coercive control refers to a pattern of behavior that is used to cause another person to experience emotional, physical, or psychological harm by unreasonably interfering with that person’s liberty or free will.
Sexual assault protection orders (SAPO) are appropriate when a victim needs protection from someone who raped them or engaged in any unwanted and nonconsensual sexual conduct towards them.
Stalking protection orders may be appropriate if a person feels intimidated, fearful, or threatened by another person’s repeated contact or attempt to contact, monitor, or track their whereabouts.
Adults Who Are Vulnerable
Vulnerable adult protection orders (VAPO) may apply if a victim is an adult and has been neglected, abused, abandoned, financially exploited, or threatened with abandonment, abuse, financial exploitation, or neglect by the respondent. A third party can (and often does) file VAPO’s on the vulnerable adult’s behalf.
Harassment protection orders may be appropriate for protection against someone who is seriously alarming, annoying, or harassing another person with no legitimate purpose.
Walton Dabney has extensive experience helping put protection orders in place, or negotiating alternatives when they are an inappropriate response to the situation.
Steps to Securing a Protection Order in Washington
After filing a petition in the appropriate court, there are at least three more steps to securing a protection order in Snohomish County. If you would like to try it without an attorney, the forms are available online. Although handwriting is legally acceptable, judicial officers, clerks, and attorneys prefer if you fill out your form on a word processor electronically for legibility. Few people write with easily understandable script; especially when anxious. If you start the process alone and later hire an attorney, they may ask you to type out what you hand-wrote and resubmit that to the court. Judicial officers do not spend a lot of time trying to decipher hard-to-read handwriting; they disregard what they cannot read.
- Petition and Temporary Order
A judge will review the petition and supporting evidence to determine whether the petitioner meets the requirements of the protection order they are requesting. Sometimes, the judge will require the petitioner to appear at a temporary order hearing. Usually, these hearings occur the same day the court receives the filing or the next working day. The judge may issue a temporary order and schedule a full hearing if the petition meets the relevant requirements (and fills out the correct forms).
Law enforcement officers will serve the respondent with the protection order. Service must be completed at least five days before the full hearing. THis makes things slightly easier for the petitioner compared to other civil actions.
- Full Hearing
At the full hearing, both parties will have an opportunity to speak. In some cases, the judge may ask the parties questions. The judge will also determine whether anyone else may speak or ask questions.
Protection orders typically last one year and, in certain circumstances, can be renewed.
An experienced Snohomish protection order attorney can provide critical advice, counsel, and representation through each stage of the process.
Defending Against Protection Orders
Domestic violence is a significant issue; however, false accusations can similarly have immediate and long-term consequences on the restrained person. In addition to court costs, time off of work, and restricted access to children and the familial home, unwarranted protective orders can have serious collateral consequences for the accused. For example, they could find themselves under arrest for accidently straying within a large geographic area around the protected person.
Very few people completely make up facts and go through all the effort to go to court simply to “get someone in trouble.” However, there may be critical differences between the accuser’s version of the facts and reality. Even if everyone agrees on the facts, a protection order might be an overreaction to a problem that can be solved with an out-of-court settlement. While many domestic violence claims are well-founded, false domestic violence, harassment, and stalking accusations can upset nearly every aspect of the accused’s life… and puts the accuser at risk of being charged with perjury (the criminal law prohibiting lying under oath). In extreme and rare cases, accusers may make a false accusation out of revenge, manipulation, or to support a claim for custody. But in most cases, the falsity is on a small but critical point – one that determines the course of the case. The accuser may feel morally justified in telling a “small” lie to support an otherwise legitimate petition. No licensed attorney would knowingly let their client lie under oath, but falsities do occasionally apear. False accusations can significantly impact the accused’s daily activities, financial position, parenting rights, and reputation; unjustly so.
Temporary protection orders are effective from the moment of service. Thus, immediate action is necessary to defend against these allegations effectively. Even if you are under a temporary protection order that is based on completely bogus facts, you must obey the court while promptly preparing your defense. Those subject to a false domestic violence or abuse allegation should consult an attorney to determine their rights, remedies, and defenses. If you have clear evidence of a falsehood, your attorney may be able to swiftly revolve the matter with a call to the petitioner’s attorney. Despite movies preaching otherwise, lawyers never lie nor let their clients do so under oath.
Modification or Extension of Washington State Protective Orders
Typically, protective orders are effective for one year. The parties to a protective order may file a motion to modify or terminate an existing order before its expiration. However, the moving party must establish that there has been a significant change in circumstances that warrants a modification, termination, or extension.
Violating a Protective Order
Violating a protective order can have serious consequences for both parties. The victim may experience emotional distress, physical harm, or other extremely adverse situations. On the other hand, the restrained person may face criminal penalties, including fines, criminal convictions on their record and confinement in jail. Never take the law into your own hands and disregard a court order; it’s never worth it.
Get Help Navigating the Complex Issues Related to Washington Protective Orders
If you are enmeshed in a dispute that requires you to obtain a protective order or that involves the potential violation of a protection order, it is imperative that you promptly reach out to a dedicated civil law attorney for assistance. At the Dabney Law Firm, PLLC, we have extensive experience helping individuals and families through the various legal issues they face. We are immediately available to discuss your options and help you come to the best solution. To learn more, and to schedule a no-contract and confidential consultation, call 425-488-5809 today. You can also connect with us through our online contact form.
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