In Washington State there are two types of No Contact Orders – (1) Pre-Trial, and (2) Post Conviction. Both types of No Contact Orders in Western Washington prevent a defendant from having contact with an alleged victim. Neither type of No Contact Order, however, prevents the victim from having contact with a defendant, since only the defendant goes to jail if the order is violated; In other words – a No Contact Order limits only a defendant’s behavior, not the alleged victim’s behavior.
A Pre-Trial No Contact Order that is issued against a defendant (sometimes called a Respondent) before he or she is convicted of having done anything wrong is called a Pre-Trial No Contact Order. Amazingly, these types of No Contact Orders can preclude contact between the Respondent and: (1) the alleged victim of the crime, (2) the defendant’s and/or victim’s children, (3) the victim’s place of work and the victim’s home (even if it’s the Respondent’s home too).
In short, these types of No Contact Orders can force a Respondent away from his home and his kids before he has even been convicted of a crime – this is true even if the victim says that nothing happened, or that whatever did happen was blown way out of proportion.
Pre-trial No Contact Orders stay in place until either there is a final resolution to the criminal case, or a Judge specifically orders it lifted.
A Post-Conviction No Contact Order is an order that is issued after a criminal conviction. This type of No-Contact Order can carry with it the same type(s) of restrictions that a Pre-Trial No Contact Order does. Post-Conviction Orders are generally good for at least one year.
Since a No Contact Order can preclude an individual from going to his own home, Courts will generally allow the person one trip home to get his clothes and a few personal items. However, the individual must be accompanied by a Law Enforcement Officer during the trip. This process is called a “Civil Standby.” The person must contact the law enforcement agency and schedule a time for the Civil Standby. Be aware, however, that this is a low priority action for most law enforcement agencies, so a civil standby will only be done when the agency has time to spare.
Violating a No Contact Order
Generally, a knowing and willful violation of a No Contact Order in Western Washington is a Gross Misdemeanor. A person convicted for violating a No-Contact Order can receive up to 365 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. Since violating a Domestic Violence No Contact Order is itself labeled a crime of domestic violence, an individual’s rights to own or possess a firearm will be forfeited upon conviction – even if no gun was used, possessed, mentioned or in any other way used. This is true even where the underlying criminal case is dismissed.
Shockingly, being in a public place (even in the courthouse) is not a defense to violating a No-Contact Order. This means that if a No Contact Order is issued against an individual and that person sees the protected person at a grocery store then he must leave. Inadvertent contact may technically not violate the order, but an individual may have to go in front of a Judge to defend himself, and there is not guarantee that a Judge or even a Jury will believe him.
Even if a victim invites the contact, a Respondent can face jail time if the No-Contact Order is violated. For example:
A man and a woman are married. Something happens at home and the police are called. The police are required to arrest either the husband or the wife. Criminal charges are filed. A No Contact Order is put in place. The No-Contact Order precludes the couple from having contact with one another. The alleged victim contacts the defendant and says something to the effect of, “I’m so sorry that all of this is happening. Come meet me at . . . and I’ll make it worth your while.” The problem, of course, is that the defendant takes the alleged victim up on the offer and meets her at . . . . The officers see the defendant’s car parked next to the alleged victim’s car and initiate an arrest of the defendant for violating the No-Contact Order. The defendant is now facing additional criminal charges.
Removing the Order
It is extremely difficult to have a Pre-Trial No Contact order lifted once it is in place. Even if the victim comes in and testifies before the Judge that the No Contact Order is not needed or wanted, most Judges will leave the No Contact Order in place because they fear to do otherwise would leave himself at risk should something go wrong.
Although it is difficult to get a No Contact Order lifted, one strategy is to have the defendant evaluated by a Western Washington Domestic Violence Treatment Agency. If a domestic violence counselor is willing to tell a Judge that the defendant would not pose a danger to the victim if the order is lifted, then the Judge may be inclined to eliminate the order. The Treatment Agency may, however, want to get the defendant into classes before agreeing to make such a recommendation to the Judge.
Another strategy may be to ask the Court to modify the No Contact Order to allow marriage counseling. Some Judges will require that contact only be allowed via a third party from the treatment agency. Once a No Contact Order has been modified to allow conditional contact, a Judge is more likely to remove the No Contact Order later, unless there is a new problem that arises between the parties.
Most Prosecutors’ Offices have a Domestic Violence Advocate. It is the Domestic Violence Advocates’ job to help victims of domestic violence understand what services are available to him/ her and help keep him/ her informed about the court process.
Many Courts have a specific form that an alleged victim can fill out requesting a Judge to drop a No Contact Order. Unfortunately, many Judges will maintain a No Contact Order in place even after a victim asks to have it lifted.
Being convicted for a crime of Domestic Violence in Western Washington will cause an individual to lose his right to own or possess a firearm – this is a lifetime ban.
The Seattle criminal attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys is a highly skilled, knowledgeable and experienced team dedicated to providing the aggressive representation for those charged with Violating No Contact Orders. The SQ Team creates success by not only working with alleged victims to develop a relationship and encourage positive communication, but the team also works with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the allegations are considered in creating the most equitable and fair resolution possible.
If you or a loved one is charged with the crime of Violating a No Contact Order in King County, Pierce County, Snohomish County, Kitsap County, Thurston County or one of the following cities or towns: Algona, Bellevue, Black Diamond, Bonney Lake, Bothell, Burien, Des Moines, Duvall, Edmonds, Enumclaw, Everett, Federal Way, fife, Hunts Point, Issaquah, Kenmore, Kent, Kirkland, Lake Forest Park, Lake Stevens, Lakewood, Lynnwood, Maple Valley, Marysville, Medina, Mercer Island, Milton, Monroe, Mountlake Terrace, New Castle, Normandy Park, North Bend, Olympia, Puyallup, Redmond, Renton, Sammamish, Sea Tac, Seattle, Shoreline, Snohomish, Sumner, Tacoma, Tukwila, University Place, and/or Woodinville, or any other city or town in Western Washington, call The Criminal Defense Team of SQ Attorneys at (206) 441-0900.