Washington No-Contact Order Laws
One penalty of domestic violence that is commonly imposed is the issuance of a no contact order. Domestic violence cases are handled very carefully. Lawmakers want to do everything possible to make sure that people who report domestic violence will not be put in harm's way as a result of bringing charges against their abuser. This can be difficult to ensure and one of the ways that lawmakers try to keep victims safe is to issue orders that require a domestic violence offender to stay away from the victim for a given period of time.
Under RCW 10.99.040 a court shall make sure that a domestic violence victim is kept as safe as possible from the threat of retaliation by not disclosing the victim's location to anyone if their attorney requests it. Under the no-contact law, any person who is released from jail for a domestic violence related crime can be prohibited from contacting the victim. This includes the following types of release:
- Awaiting arraignment
- On bail before trial
If there is not already an existing restraining order, the judge that authorizes this release can decide to issue a no-contact order in order to prevent the domestic violence suspect from contacting the victim and getting too close to them. This order can be ordered by phone and will be followed up in writing as soon as possible. A no-contact order can either be issued or an existing order can be extended during the arraignment process.
Terms of NH No-Contact Orders
A person who is issued a no contact order must abide by its terms no matter what. Even if the alleged victim establishes contact or invites the suspect into their home, they can still be charged with a violation of the order. A copy of the order will also be given to the victim so that they, too, can understand the terms of the order. According to RCW 10.99.040(4) (b), the written order shall bear the following statement on the front of it:
"Violation of this order is a criminal offense under chapter 26.50 RCW and will subject a violator to arrest; any assault, drive-by shooting, or reckless endangerment that is a violation of this order is a felony. You can be arrested even if any person protected by the order invites or allows you to violate the order's prohibitions. You have the sole responsibility to avoid or refrain from violating the order's provisions. Only the court can change the order."
Unless specified, a no-contact order will be issued for one year. The victim can also choose to have the order dissolved sooner if they so desire. The order will be terminated if the charges are dropped or the suspect is found not guilty in court.
Penalties for Violating a No-Contact Order
Under RCW 26.50.110, a person can be sentenced to serious penalties for violating a no-contact order. It is important to remember that a police officer who has probable cause to believe that a person has violated a no-contact order may make an arrest without a warrant. A violation of the order is a gross misdemeanor. If a suspect violates an order by assaulting the victim, they will face Class C felony charges. Class C felony charges will also result if a person has two or more prior no-contact order violation convictions on their record.
- The penalties for a gross misdemeanor include:
- No more than 1 year of jail time OR
- No more than $5,000 in fines OR
- A combination of both
- The penalties for a Class C felony include:
- No more than 5 years of jail time OR
- No more than $10,000 in fines OR
- A combination of both
In addition, a person convicted of violating a no contact order will be held in contempt of court and face additional penalties for that. They may also be sentenced to electronic monitoring which the offender will be required to pay for. A violation will result in all of these penalties as well as an additional charge for any offense that occurred during the contact. For example, if a domestic violence suspect with a no-contact order enters their home and breaks something, they could be charged with violating the order as well as malicious mischief.
Call a Seattle Domestic Violence Attorney Now
If you have been arrested in Seattle for a domestic violence charge and want to know more about no-contact orders, call our office now. Attorney Steve Karimi will listen to your case and explain to you what penalties you can expect to face. No-contact orders can be issued before you are even convicted of a crime. Whether you have violated an order or are facing other domestic violence charges and want to know more about your rights, attorney Karimi can help you. Call now for a free consultation.