The safety and wellbeing of individuals and families are of the utmost importance to the state of Washington. In order to protect them from abuse, Washington has crafted laws for protection orders. Protection orders are designed to provide relief to individuals facing physical, emotional, or mental abuse. For domestic abuse protection orders, the abuser must be someone that qualifies under “family or household member” or be someone you have or previously had a “dating relationship” with.
Domestic abuse can be a serious threat to health and wellbeing. When caught in a cycle of abuse, the most important thing one can do is pursue whatever avenues you have to escape it. Washington state has created different legal actions one can pursue to find relief from abuse. One of the most effective means of doing so is to file for a protection order.
Since protection orders are court issued by a judge, they require substantial evidence supporting the claims for a judge to sign it. This is why it’s always recommended to consult a qualified family law attorney before filing for a protection order. The process can be confusing and immensely stressful. However, you can fight back by having legal assistance to guide you and help you craft the kind of argument you need to guarantee your safety.
Washington Domestic Violence Protection Order Petitioner Attorney
For those suffering abuse from loved ones, relief can seem impossible to get. Our culture tells us that family is important; that is certainly true. Another vital truth, though, is how toxic, violent relationships can have far-reaching consequences on our wellbeing. State laws have devised a pathway to obtaining relief from abuse no matter who has subjected you to it known as a protection order.
Our concern for families and the goal of producing happy, satisfied clients drives each and every one of us at The Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson. We understand that people come to us in desperate need and seek guidance on how to maintain their lives and provide for their loved ones. When a client walks through our door, there is always something critical at stake. Our seasoned attorneys take that trust our clients give and utilize it to advocate on their behalf in and out of court.
If you are considering filing for a domestic abuse protection order or have already filed, contact us at (206) 712-2756 to schedule your first consultation and strategy session. The Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson serves clients in the Seattle metropolitan area including Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue, Redmond, Everett, Bothell, and many other surrounding cities.
Overview of Domestic Violence Protection Order Law
Can I Get a Domestic Violence Protection Order?
Many people hesitate to pursue a protection order because they doubt that their circumstances meet the legal criteria. The letter of the law can sometimes be confusing but the legal definition of abuse is not rigid. If you can reasonably prove your wellbeing has been disturbed by action or threat of an action, it probably qualifies as abuse. The judge has discretion as well. When making your case for the judge, it is important to keep in mind that it is ultimately up to them whether your petition is accepted or rejected.
There are different kinds of protection orders for situations like stalking, harassment, or sexual assault. Domestic abuse protection orders are for victims of domestic abuse perpetrated by family or household members as well as intimate partners.
Major changes in Washington’s protection order laws (RCW 7.105) took effect July 1, 2022. Listed below is the standard criteria that determine if abuse has occurred, and if that abuse is domestic in nature:
- Family or household members include:
- People related by blood, marriage, domestic partnership, or adoption
- People who currently or formerly resided together
- People who have a biological or legal parent-child relationship, including stepparents and stepchildren and grandparents and grandchildren, or a parent’s intimate partner and children. It also includes individuals who act or have acted as legal guardians.
- Intimate partners include:
- Spouses or domestic partners
- Former spouses or former domestic partners
- Couples who have a child in common regardless of whether they have been married or have lived together at any time, unless the child is conceived through sexual assault
- Couples who have or have had a dating relationship where both individuals are at least 13 years of age or older.
- Types of abuse include:
- Physical harm
- Bodily Injury
- Infliction of fear of physical harm
- Nonconsensual sexual conduct or nonconsensual sexual penetration
- Coercive control
- Unlawful harassment or stalking
Mental abuse is defined as an intentional, willful, or reckless verbal or nonverbal action that threatens, humiliates, harasses, coerces, intimidates, isolates, unreasonably confines, or punishes an individual. This may include ridiculing, yelling, swearing, or withholding or tampering with prescribed medications or their dosage.
Anything that is not listed here can still be considered abuse, or domestic abuse, depending on the situation. It is always wise to consult a family law attorney when considering seeking a protection order of any kind. Experienced legal assistance can answer your questions, explain the legal process, and provide you with guidance to protect yourself and your family.
Definitions Under Washington’s Domestic Violence Statute
RCW 7.105 has broadened the circumstances under which a person may acquire a domestic violence protection order. As stated previously, the statute provides a new definition of domestic violence and now includes new terms such as coercive control and stalking.
Under Washington law, coercive control is defined as a pattern of behavior that is used to cause another to suffer physical, emotional, or psychological harm. It interferes with a person’s free will and personal liberty. Examples of coercive control include, but are not limited to, engaging in any of the following:
- Using technology to threaten, humiliate, harass, stalk, intimidate, exert undue influence over, or abuse the other party, including by engaging in cyberstalking, monitoring, surveillance, impersonation, manipulation of electronic media, or distribution of or threats to distribute actual or fabricated intimate images
- Communicating, directly or indirectly, the intent to harm the other party’s children, family members, friends, or pets, including by use of physical forms of violence
- Driving recklessly with the other party or minor children in the vehicle;
- Carrying, exhibiting, displaying, drawing, or threatening to use, any firearm or any other weapon capable of producing bodily harm at a time and place that either manifests an intent to intimidate the other party
- Damaging, destroying, or threatening to damage or destroy, or forcing the other party to relinquish, goods, property, or items of special value
Under RCW 7.105, stalking is defined as any of the following:
- Any act of stalking as defined under RCW 9A.46.110;
- Any act of cyber harassment as defined under RCW 9A.90.120; or
- Any course of conduct involving repeated or continuing contacts, attempts to contact, monitoring, tracking, surveillance, keeping under observation, disrupting activities in a harassing manner, or following of another person that:
- Would cause a reasonable person to feel intimidated, frightened, under duress, significantly disrupted, or threatened and that actually causes such a feeling;
- Serves no lawful purpose; and
- The respondent knows that the act threatens, frightens, or intimidates the victim
In Washington, if the court finds per the petition that the respondent is a credible threat, and that they are restrained from causing physical harm to the petitioner, then the court must issue an order to surrender weapons and require the respondent to appear before the weapons surrender calendar to prove they have surrendered their weapons. RCW 9.41.800(2). A surrender weapons order may also be issued if the court finds that, by a preponderance of the evidence, a respondent presents a serious and imminent threat to public health or safety, or the health or safety of any individual by possession a firearm or other dangerous weapon. Failure to appear for the weapons surrender calendar or comply with the release of weapons can lead to further orders, sanctions or even warrants.
How Do I Get a Domestic Violence Protection Order?
In order to file a petition for a domestic violence protection order, you must fill out the proper forms and submit them to a civil clerk at your local courthouse. The forms will require you to describe in detail the type, length, and severity of your abuse. Additional evidence can also be submitted. If you are fearful that you are in immediate danger, an Ex Parte hearing can be conducted the same day that you file your petition.
The Ex Parte protection order is temporary. Most formal hearings for protection orders are scheduled for 10-15 days after the paperwork was filed. Ex Parte hearings only require the petitioner to be present and are usually granted when the circumstances indicate an immediate threat. Once the temporary order has been served to the respondent, the order goes into effect. The Ex Parte order expires on the date of the formal hearing.
Both temporary and formal protection orders require evidence to back up the claims made by the petitioner and the respondent. This is why it is highly recommended that you approach both hearings with an experienced family law attorney. In order to increase the likelihood of a positive outcome, it is best to consult legal assistance.
What are the Potential Outcomes of a Domestic Violence Protection Order?
The primary goal of protection orders is to provide relief to victims of varying types of abuse. When an order is issued, the intention is that the respondent will cease contact according to the conditions listed out in the order. If they decide at a later point to violate that ruling, they can be held criminally liable for their actions.
The issuance of a domestic violence protection order implies that domestic violence has occurred in the past and is a possibility to occur in the future, so it can have a tremendous effect on future court proceedings. If a protection order is issued during a pending legal case or before one begins, it can have a significant impact on the outcome of the case.
After the Formal Hearing
Depending on if your petition is accepted or rejected, there are several different ways to proceed from a formal hearing. If your petition was accepted, it will go into effect immediately for the length of time prescribed by the judge. If it was rejected, you apply for another hearing at a later date.
Petitions can be rejected for many different reasons. Some might be rejected not because there was no abuse, but because it didn’t meet certain qualifications. In instances like this, the best course of action is to apply for a more fitting protection order. If it was rejected because the judge didn’t perceive the situation to constitute abuse, you can always file another petition at a later date.
The stakes are high, and the situation often demands immediate action. In order to fight for the right outcome, it is highly recommended that you seek out a capable family law attorney.
Womenslaw.org Domestic Violence Protection Order Washington – This website contains detailed information about every kind of restraining order available to victims of abuse in all 50 states. It is an excellent resource and a good place to begin understanding what you can do.
Washington RCW Domestic Violence Page – This link leads to the official Revised Code of Washington section on Domestic Violence Prevention Law. A lot of helpful information can be found, and it is always a good idea to be familiar with the exact wording of the law before you make any decision.
Seattle Domestic Violence Protection Order Petitioner Attorney | King County, WA
If you are a victim of domestic violence, filing for a protective order can supply immediate relief. Obtaining a qualified attorney can give you the guidance and knowledge to make filing a protective order much easier. Domestic violence is a frightening thing to experience. When you don’t feel safe in your own home, or with the people who you are closest to, it feels like you have nothing at all. Even when it seems like nobody is willing to listen, it is our sincerest hope that you will trust us to be your advocate.
At The Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson, it is our mission to provide individuals and families with the service and care they deserve. Our skilled attorneys have the drive and the knowledge to fight for you, and to advocate for your brighter future. Contact us at (206) 712-2756 to schedule your first consultation and strategy session. The Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson serves clients in King County, Snohomish County, Pierce County, Kitsap County, and many other counties in the surrounding area.