The Impact of a Protection Order in Washington

A protection order can be a necessary tool to enable someone to protect themselves from a dangerous situation. Unfortunately, these tools can also result in unfair, unnecessary, and unintended consequences for those who have improper orders brought against them. It’s important to understand how a protection order can impact your life and potential legal situations in the future. Defending yourself against unsubstantiated and false claims can preserve your home, your livelihood, and your future.

Types of Protection Orders

There are several types of protection orders in Washington State and recent legislation enables individuals to request them more easily.

Whatever the motivations of the person who files the petition for a protection order, the fact that the claims don’t have to be substantiated creates unique challenges for respondents who are issued the order. Each type of protection order has its own set of requirements and all protections orders carry arrest and criminal consequences for failure to comply. The following are some of the most common protection orders and what they entail:

Domestic Violence Protection Order

A domestic violence protection order may be obtained by someone who believes they are in danger or at risk of domestic violence. The court must find that the petitioner has proven they are a victim of domestic violence. The recipient of the court order may not have any contact with the person who obtained the order, and violation of the order is grounds for immediate arrest. Additionally, a defendant can be forced out of their home, face geographic restrictions that prevent them from traveling to certain areas, and even be denied contact with their kids (including cases where the kids were not the victims of domestic violence).  

An order will also result in a complete prohibition on possession of firearms or dangerous weapons and an order to surrender any such weapons to law enforcement.  

Anti-Harassment Order

An anti-harassment order is designed to protect individuals from harassment, intimidation, or another type of threatening behavior and can be obtained by anyone who believes and proves they’re a victim of this behavior. The person filing an anti-harassment order does not have to be related to the accused whatsoever.  They also do not need to be in fear.  It is enough that they have suffered “substantial emotional distress” and that they want to be free from continued harassment.

Sexual Assault Protection Order

A sexual assault protection order is for those petitioners who claim and prove they are a victim of one or more instances of nonconsensual sexual conduct. The order prohibits the accused from having any contact with the petitioner and violation of the order could result in an arrest and potential felony charges.

The stain they leave on your record can impact you for the rest of your life. It can possibly end your career and even force you out of your home, prevent you from seeing your children, or get you expelled from school. For example, if someone in your home obtains a protection order against you through the courts, you may be prohibited from entering or even being near your home. Violating this prohibition can result in immediate arrest. A protection order could also show up on a background check, complicate an already challenging domestic violence or CPS case, and collaterally impact your ability to establish and maintain future relationships.

Extreme Risk Protection Order

In the case of an extreme risk protection order, a family member or law enforcement files for an order claiming the respondent’s access to a firearm poses a legitimate threat to use it in an act of violence. If the court issues this order against you, you will be unable to pass a background check to obtain firearms and force you to surrender any current firearms as well as licenses or permits to own or carry weapons.

Vulnerable Adult Protection Order

As the title suggests, these orders protect a vulnerable adult who has been abused, exploited, threatened, neglected, or abandoned by the respondent. These can be filed by the vulnerable adult, their guardian, or a person with an interest in protecting the vulnerable adult.

These orders come with a wide spectrum of results for respondents as it can result in an order not to abandon the petitioner or result in an order to not contact them at all. Additionally, there can be geographic restrictions, a strict accounting of any use of the vulnerable adult’s income/assets, and limitations to the ability to access the petitioner’s estate.

If you find yourself facing a protection order of any kind, it’s a race against time to prepare yourself for the hearing that will take place in a matter of days and get the situation resolved fairly. Since contacting the petitioner is out of the question, the first step is to contact an attorney who has experience in handling all types of protection orders. Depending on the circumstances, it may be possible to have the protection order dismissed or modified to improve the outcome of the accused. If you or a loved one has been served with a protection order, contact the office of Burke Brown Attorneys at (206) 933-2414 as soon as possible for a consultation.

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