Domestic Violence Protection Orders
Domestic Violence orders are unfortunately becoming more and more common. Here at Newton & Hall, we do not believe that this is due to an uptick in domestic violence, on the contrary we believe domestic violence is decreasing. We attribute the rise in these protection orders to the willingness of police, judges, prosecutors, and others to recommend and grant them as a solution to bad relationships.
Unfortunately, a petitioner does not have to have any physical proof that domestic violence actually occurred, to get one of these protection orders. All they have to do is make allegations within their court pleadings. Petitioners are given "advocates" whose job it is to assist them in crafting their story and fill out pleading forms, so as to convince the judge to grant these orders. These advocates are not attorneys, but appear every day before the same judges and stand with alleged victims of domestic violence.
At times they are truly victims, and need protection. But at other times, they are seeking these orders for use as a sword, rather than as a shield as they were meant to be used. Petitioners may be seeking to gain the upper hand in a divorce or break up, and could use them to get child custody or property. Unfortunately we often see people misusing domestic violence protection orders. We have seen them misused to obtain custody of pets, cars, houses and other abuses. I have even seen tenants attempt to use them to fight evictions or avoid paying rent to their landlord.
Although a judge may initially grant a protection order on a temporary basis, you always have the right to hire a lawyer to fight a permanent or lengthy order. You should immediately consult with an attorney that is experienced with these matters, as soon as you have notice of any legal proceedings. These matters are handled on an expedited basis, and you should not wait before seeking help. If you wait, it may be too late to offer a defense, and appeals and motions for reconsideration have very short time limitations, and are less likely to be successful than a vigorous initial defense.
There are very serious and real consequences to one of these orders, including the loss of your constitutional right to possess firearms, difficulties in obtaining and keeping employment, as well as problems when you go to rent a house or apartment. Many landlords and employers choose to not rent to or employ persons with these orders on their record, due to fear of liability and the desire to protect their other tenants, co-workers and customers. Often times this discrimination is difficult to detect, since those that participate in it will not choose to inform the person of the reason that they have chosen to not employ or rent to them.
Domestic violence protection orders are governed by the Washington Court Rules, as well as the Domestic Violence Protection Act, Chapter 26.50 of the Revised Code of Washington (RCW).
Need help with a Domestic Violence protection order?
When you are facing a domestic violence protection order hearing we can help. Call us at (253) 867-2675 to schedule a free initial consultation with the attorneys at Newton & Hall. Our office is located near the King County Courthouse in Kent, and we handle these matters in King and Pierce counties on a regular basis. We also handle other counties like Snohomish, Thurston and Kitsap, but are less often in those courts for protection order cases. We are able to assist petitioners in seeking domestic violence protection orders, as well as respondents in defending against them.
To see information about the criminal consequences of protection order violations click here.