In Washington State criminal cases involving a domestic violence arrest, the judge often imposes a No Contact Order between the parties while their case is pending. This can create a significant hardship and collateral consequences to both sides. Sometimes neither party wished for the No Contact Order in the first place. Couples can become frustrated by the inability to communicate. A No Contact Order can impose a strain on household finances, on child care, and on maintaining a semblance of a normal daily life.
This article helps to explain the ins and outs of a No Contact Order in Washington State.
What Is a No Contact Order?
A No Contact Order prohibits you from contacting the other party while the case is pending. It prohibits you from contacting directly or indirectly, in person or by electronic means. It prohibits you from having third parties relay messages on your behalf. It prohibits you from going near specified locations such as the other person’s home, school, and place of employment. And it prohibits you from keeping the other person under surveillance. Violating a No Contact Order can result in additional criminal charges. Prosecutors treat a violation of a No Contact Order just as seriously as the underlying offense.
How Can I Modify or Lift A No Contact Order?
Only the judge can modify or remove a No Contact Order. While No Contact Orders are typically imposed at the beginning of most criminal cases such as Assault, Harassment, Trespass and Malicious Mischief, the parties can petition the judge modify or lift the No Contact Order.
First, a hearing needs to take place. You must contact the court clerk to request that the judge grant you a hearing. Keep in mind that the judge has discretion whether to grant or deny you a hearing at all. If the judge does not grant a hearing in the matter, the No Contact Order stays in effect. If you are successful in getting a hearing scheduled, then you need to convince a judge to actually change the terms of the No Contact Order. ‘
Is There Anything I Can Do?
It is always helpful to show that you have fully abided by the terms of a No Contact Order prior to making the request to the court. If you demonstrate to the judge that you have been fully compliant with the court’s release conditions thus far, it can show responsibility and credibility. On the other hand, if you have previously been accused of violating a No Contact Order, a judge has no incentive to grant the request to rescind it.
While every case is different a good rule of thumb is to show the court that you are taking this case as seriously as the judge. In many police reports, there are allegations that the defendant was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. In other cases, there are sometimes allegations that the client has difficulty expressing his/her emotions with words, and instead can take their frustrations out physically. If alcohol was involved during the altercation, refraining from alcohol is often a court requirement. Demonstrating clean sheets of negative urine-analysis tests (UA’s) and engaging with counseling or treatment can assist the judge in making a determination whether he or she believes that you pose a risk of future incidents towards the other party.
Washington State Domestic Violence No Contact Orders can cripple a family. It can cause an undue hardship on the household finances. It can create a strain on child care. It can upend the mental health of the family unit. Do not take matters into your own hands. Violating a No Contact Order is a serious crime, and prosecutors treat these violations as seriously as the underlying charge itself which can potentially lead to a domestic violence conviction and possible jail time.
While there are never any guarantees with the court, there are certain steps you can take to confidently request a judge to modify the No Contact Order. If you are in need of a domestic violence lawyer or would like to consult a professional about your domestic violence accusation, contact our office for more information. We have successfully defended numerous clients facing domestic violence accusations in Washington State. Call our office today to see how we can help you. We offer a free attorney consultation.