Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Domestic Violence Protection Orders in Washington State

 In Washington, we have several types of orders that restrain and restrict contact between parties. Over the next few blog posts, I plan to discuss the differences between a Domestic Violence Protection Order, Anti-Harassment Protection Order, Restraining Order, Sexual Assault Protection Order, and Criminal No Contact Order.

What is a Domestic Violence Protection Order?

A Domestic Violence Protection Order, or DVPO, is meant to help you get protection from your abuser (the Respondent). It is an order you can get from the court that tells the Respondent that they cannot contact you. Although this is a civil protection order from the court, if your abuser violates the order, they may be arrested or criminally charged with violation of the order.

What is "Domestic Violence"?

The legal definition of Domestic Violence under RCW 26.50 likely differs from other definitions you may have read online or in other materials. For purposes of obtaining a protection order, Domestic Violence is defined as:

(a) Physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault, between family or household members;
(b) Sexual assault of one family or household member by another; or
(c) Stalking of one family or household member by another family or household member.

What counts as "Domestic Violence"?
  • If you have been hit, assaulted, sexually assaulted, or physically hurt.
  • If you are in fear of an imminent threat of harm by the Respondent.
  • If you have received threats that inflict fear of imminent harm.
  • Controlling behavior may indicate domestic violence, but it must be such that it meets the definition described above.
What if I am in a relationship or household where I am a victim of Domestic Violence?
  • If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
  • If you are not in immediate danger but need help finding resources, call the 24-hour Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-562-6025 when it is safe for you to do so.
  • If you seek a protection order, go to your nearest courthouse and the Clerk will help you find the domestic violence advocates or discuss your case with an experienced attorney who can represent you.
  • It is important to contact an attorney especially if your case involves children. Often a DVPO is consolidated with a family law case.
  • Be sure to make a safety plan in case of an emergency. Contact Domestic Abuse Women's Network (DAWN) at (425) 656-7867 when it is safe for you to do so.
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Rachel Luke is a attorney in the Bellevue office of Wong Fleming. Ms. Luke practices family law and represents clients on divorces, custody issues, parenting plans, child support, and more. 

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  2. A fantastic read….very literate and informative. Many thanks

    Family Law / Divorce