One of the things that commonly comes out in the early stages of a domestic violence situation is a restraining order, also referred to as a "no contact order." The legal system in Washington has not only made these easy to get and quick to receive, it has also made them incredibly powerful. Restraining orders can have a huge negative impact on your life if you are on the wrong side of one.
Unfortunately, for some people, this is the real reason why they get a restraining order: To harass the person they are filing it against. This is called restraining order abuse, and it has been a problem in the U.S. for years.
Restraining Orders in Washington
Restraining orders are issued by a court ex parte, without much evidence, and go into effect quickly. To get a restraining order, all you have to do is file the correct set of paperwork in court. The hearing is ex parte, meaning the person against whom the order is being filed does not have a right to be there, so any allegations made to support a need for the order are rarely challenged.
Once received, the restraining order sets strict limitations on what someone else can do, including where they can go, and who they can see or communicate with. These restrictions can drastically change their lives, while the order is in place. Violating the restraining order in Washington can be a serious offense, including a mandatory arrest. You can also be charged with contempt of court and other crimes for violating a restraining order.
Restraining Order Abuse
The ease with which one can get a restraining order, and the power that these orders have on someone else, have made restraining order abuse a disconcertingly common practice. Even though they were meant to provide quick and staunch protection to people suffering from domestic violence, or who are in an abusive relationship, they are often used by people to manipulate, harass, or pressure people they do not like, or who they want to get revenge against.
Examples of restraining order abuse appear in all stages of an alleged domestic violence situation or divorce proceeding. People abuse restraining orders to paint their spouse in a bad light soon before a child custody hearing, or simply because they had an argument and wanted to “get back at them.” Unfortunately, the only thing stopping someone from lying on a restraining order application is a perjury charge, which is rarely pursued.
Domestic Violence Attorneys Can Help Against Restraining Order Abuse
While it is nearly impossible to say for certain how many restraining orders were gotten through deceit or what percentage are gotten through restraining order abuse, domestic violence and criminal defense attorneys agree that the number is too high.