Domestic Violence No Contact Orders

On April 26th, 2018, The Washington State Supreme Court paved the way for how judges can impose domestic violence no contact orders.

They decided in State v. Granath that “Under RCW 10.99.050, a court of limited jurisdiction lacks authority to issue a domestic violence no contact under that exceeds the length of the underlying sentence, which can be up to 5 years.”

What does this even mean?

Let’s start with the different types of no contact orders in King / Pierce County that the court can impose.

First, a judge presiding over a criminal case can impose a pretrial domestic violence no contact order. In misdemeanor cases, judges often impose a pretrial domestic violence no contact order when a defendant has been accused of an assault domestic violence charge, harassment domestic violence charge, or malicious mischief third degree domestic violence charge. This order will prohibit the defendant from having contact with a victim, and the order could last for up to five years. If the defendant violates this order, then he or she can be criminally charged with violating a no contact order.

A judge presiding over a criminal case can impose a post-conviction domestic violence no contact order when a defendant has been convicted of a domestic violence offense as a result of a guilty plea or guilty verdict at trial. If the defendant violates this order, then he or she can be criminally charged with violating a no contact order.

This is where that Supreme Court decision comes in. When a person is convicted of a domestic violence crime, the court can place he or she on probation for up to five years and impose a no contact order for that length of time as well. However, if the court decided to only place them on probation for two years, the length of the time that the not contact order could remain in place could only be two years also. Before, a no contact order could remain in place for a longer period of time than the defendant’s probation.

A pretrial and post-conviction domestic violence no contact order should not be confused with a civil protection order. The two types of civil protection orders that one could seek in Pierce County are: a harassment order or stalking protection order. The judge, who issues these orders, does not do so as a result of someone being charged with a crime. Instead, if a person felt that they were being harassed or stalked, they could fill out a form and submit it to the district or superior court to have the judge review it. There would then be a hearing to determine if the judge finds reason to impose either type of order. If a judge does impose either type of order, someone can be criminally charged for violating this type of order.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a violation of a no contact order in Tacoma, Lakewood, or anywhere in Western Washington, please contact Horwath Law right away.

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