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Washington courts have the authority to prohibit you from contacting another person when domestic violence has been alleged in several circumstances.
If a court issues a no contact order, violating the order is a crime and will be treated very seriously by law enforcement, prosecutors and judges.
This is true even if the person you have been prevented from contacting invited the contact.
An order preventing you from having contact with another person can be issued when:
- When an individual (the petitioner) files a civil case alleging domestic violence and requesting that the court issue an order preventing another person (the respondent) from having any contact with them. RCW 26.50.030.
- When a domestic violence criminal charge has been filed and the court issues an order preventing the defendant from having any contact with the alleged victim. In this circumstance the court can (and generally will) issue such an order even if the people involved want to have contact and object to the order. RCW 10.99.040.
Washington domestic violence protection orders generally prohibit all contact of any kind (including, but not limited to, phone calls, letters, email, text messages and contact through a third party) and usually restrict your ability to come within a certain distance of the protected person's home, work or school.
If a DV no contact order is issued against you, it should be taken VERY seriously and followed carefully. Violating a domestic violence protection orders is a crime even if the protected person does not want the order in place and wishes or invites contact with you. It is not a legal defense to a criminal charge of violating the order that the contact was wanted or invited and judges and prosecutors are rarely sympathetic to this argument.
Unfortunately, if the court issues an order that prevents you from contacting someone you live with – you will need to make alternative housing arrangements. You can request a "civil standby" which is an opportunity to enter your home for a short period of time with a law enforcement escort, to retrieve some necessary personal belongings.
What you can do now:
It is very important to consult with an attorney if you find yourself facing a domestic violence no contact or protection order in a Washington court.
An attorney who is experienced in dealing with Washington domestic violence cases and these orders can explain exactly what your rights, responsibilities and options are if you are accused of domestic violence in Washington state.